We've all considered taking our passion for two wheels into the realms of racing, sportives and even challenging feats of strength. Living in the UK, one such well known challenge is the epic Lands End to John O'Groats route - LEJOG.
Taking on such a mammoth challenge is not only rewarding, but it's a whole lot of fun too. You get the chance to ride places you've never been, meet fellow cyclo-holics on the way and even surprise yourself but pushing the boundaries of your riding ability. However, cycling great distances and undertaking lengthy journeys requires careful planning and preparation.
If you want to take the hassle out of your own hands, there are a number of cycling adventure companies that provide comprehensive packages. The Deloitte Ride Across Britain event took place earlier this month which saw hundreds of pedal mad cyclists taking part in the epic LEJOG route. Amongst the rabble of rolling wheels were Emily Chappell and Kajsa Tylen.
The fully assisted tour allows each rider to solely focus on the pedalling aspect of the journey, while Deloitte Ride Across Britain does the rest. Without worrying where your next meal is coming from, or if you're going the right way, you'll be able to focus on the ride, making friends and enjoying the trip in its entirety.
LEJOG - The Route
Over the course of 9 days, nearly a thousand riders scaled from the South to the North of Britain. Each day requiring roughly 110 miles of riding, with each stage varying in technical level and climbs. The route was as follows:
Day 1: Lands End - Okehampton (107 miles)
Day 2: Okehampton - Bath (110 miles)
Day 3: Bath - Ludlow (99 miles)
Day 4: Ludlow - Haydock (105 miles)
Day 5: Haydock - Penrith (104 miles)
Day 6: Penrith - Hamilton (100 miles)
Day 7: Hamilton - Fort William (126 miles)
Day 8: Fort William - Kyle of Sutherland (110 miles)
Day 9: Kyle of Sutherland - John O'Groats (104 miles)
The longest and most challenging day was Day 7 - Hamilton to Fort William. At 126 miles and with 6,000ft of climbing, this is the longest and arguably the most challenging stage of the route.
With the exception of some rain on day 5, the horde of cyclists were welcomed with brilliant sunshine and incredible scenery.
LEJOG - The Ride
"It was amazing getting to know my fellow riders, and seeing everyone on their own emotional and physical journey, day after day." - Emily Chappell
Amongst the two wheeled army was famed ex-bicycle courier, turned writer, turned adventurer, Emily Chappell. Although Emily has clocked up a considerable amount of road miles in the UK, this was the first time she'd ridden LEJOG in one trip.
We asked Emily how she found the 9 day tour, riding with so many other cyclists: "I was completely swept up in the atmosphere, and I loved sharing the experience with 800 other people. It was a privilege to have some properly fast people to chase, and to learn from cyclists far more experienced than me."
It wasn't just Emily Chappell on board either, as Kajsa Tylen took to the roads to join the Ride across Britain for a stage of the journey. Attempting to beat the number of cycled miles in a year, completing one of the legs was a great addition to her incredible challenge.
We caught up with Kajsa to see how she got on, and her experience of the event: "It turned out to be one of my favourite days of my attempt. I was greeted so warmly and was really well looked after. Nothing was too much trouble for the crew, and I noticed they were exactly the same with all the riders. This meant a lovely, relaxed atmosphere and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, despite being in pain. The dinners and breakfasts were great and everything was organised to perfection."
Deloitte Ride Across Britain - What's Included?
In short, everything.
The idea behind activity packaged such as this one is that all you have to do is turn up, and ride. All the stress of carrying your belongings, working out where you're going for food, where you're sleeping each night, is all taken care of.
PRE-RIDE: Training plans are given out to those who need a little guidance on how to effectively train for such a mammoth event. Deloitte include training days and maintenance classes to boost your confidence for taking on the event.
THE RIDE: Each stage is clearly sign posted on that day, so there's no need for map reading. Two or three well equipped fuel stations will be along each stage. These are great for stocking up and getting any check overs from the maintenance and medical crew. Experienced riders and chaperones will be along the way, offering help and that all important morale boost. Timer chips are handed out at registration, so although it isn't a race, you can monitor your ride performance. The last resort of the broom wagon will be out sweeping up struggling riders.
EVENINGS: While you're out pedalling away, the Deloitte team are carting your camp supplies and possession to the next finish stage. Each rider gets allocated a two man tent, and the site village offers hot meals, massages and that much needed reward, a pint.
Entries are open for 2017's Deloitte Ride Across Britain (LEJOG), and there are a number of packages to choose from. You can choose from the classic 9 day experience for £1500, or you join the England or Scotland legs for £1000.
Although it sounds like a lot of money for a bike tour, it's pretty reasonable when you consider 9 days of camping, food, mechanics, medical, entertainment and expert guides that are all included.
Bike touring packages are becoming more popular as they take a lot of the stress and time out of your hands. All you need to focus on is pedalling up those climbs, and enjoying those descents, without worrying where your next meal will come from. What's even better is with events such as these, they are fantastic fund-raising opportunities to really help make a difference to various charities.
There are many bike tours out there, but for more information about next years Deloitte Ride Across Britain - LEJOG event, check out their website here.
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