Friday, 19 August 2011

10 Hints and tips for LEJOG or JOGLE

Here are my hints and tips, bearing in mind that I am not a coach, and am commenting only from my experience and in the spirit of cycling comradeship. So what’s my experience? I have been riding my bike since 8, and when I was 13 it really developed into the way to get around. When I was 18 I did my first end to end, solo with tent, stove and all. The bike weighed 35Ilbs and the load was 40Ilbs. I didn’t walk a step! There was dip when I got my first car at 22, but it recovered in my late 20s, and I now have over 82,000 recorded miles since 1982.

I am told I am a good club cyclist, and you know from this blog I did the End to End the long way last year. I did it on my own with a support car. I did 1353 in 16 days being 13 full days and 3 half days. It rained on 13 days. I enjoyed it immensely, even when it hurt. I wasn’t ever tired as such, but deeply fatigued at the end which took about 3 weeks to recover from. Yes I would do it again. Why not?
Generally I do sportives, and shorter Audaxs. The longest I have done is 5 yrs ago and was 330m in three days (tour of Wessex), with the last day 130 mile with 8000ft of climbing. Took 8 hrs, the whole 330 was 20000ft climbing in 20hr45mins. Did it again the year after. I’ve done the Dartmoor Classic three times, and will do it again, best was 105m in 6h45m with 9000ft of climbing on Dartmoor. First finisher was 5h42, slowest was over 10 hrs. Oh and I am 45 and a half years old. The photo on Twitter is me at the top of the highest point of the 330, with 65m left to go, and with a tail wind :-)
1 Training:

I think it is common to think that ’you’ haven’t done enough training. That said I think the reason why so many people do the end to end is that it is attainable by ordinary people, its just a case of how long/easy. The more training you do the easier you will find the ride and the more you will enjoy it. If you are a regular cyclist then it really is a case of extending the rides, and backing them up. I build up in half hour steps. So maybe 2.30hr on sat, 2hr on Sun, and a couple of 1 to 1.5hr during the week, these can be faster rides. Then step up the weekend rides 30mins at a time until you can comfortably back up 4 and 4 sat to sun.

The general advice is don’t try to increase your mileage by more than 10% at a go, listen to your body. If it hurts it is trying to tell you something, stiff and sore muscles is different to painful knees and joints. If they continue to hurt then get someone who knows to check your position, cleats, saddle height etc.

2 Hills:

Learn to love hills, there will be a few on the way, so you may as well love them as otherwise your going to spend a lot of time being miserable. Use the gears on the bike to allow you to spin up the hills, then over time, try and ride one gear higher than is comfortable. This will help you build strength. Don’t choose a big gear and grind up the hill. You don’t go at a steep hill in 5th gear in a car, it really labours, your body is the same.

3 Rest:

Is as important as training. Slowly increase the hours over 3 weeks then back off for a week, then pick up again, doing a bit more than the first week. Also take days off during the week. Exercise stresses the body, the recovery period allows it to grow. If you don’t rest, you will overtrain, go backwards and ultimately get ill. So give it a rest too.

4 Kit:

A bike that you are comfortable with is a necessity. Get someone to help you with your position. After that I would advise proper padded shorts, stiff soled cycling shoes which are either clipless, or use top straps. There is loads of choice, you don’t need to have racing shoes and walk like a duck. The recreational shoes set the cleat (the bit on the shoe) in a recess so you can walk normally.

I don’t generally use any sort of chamois cream in my shorts. Keep your contact points with the saddle clean, and clean shorts everyday. Use non bio washing powder least the bio part of the bio is not rinsed out fully and it starts to digest your cheeky bits. On the end to end after four days of rain I got a bit sore from being wet all the time so got some sudocream (look in the baby section, they use it for nappy rash) which I applied, and no more problems.

Otherwise dress to stay warm in the rain, but don’t overheat. A raincoat wide open as it is now not raining will simply slow you down and use energy. Take it off.

If you get cold then your body will use energy keeping warm, not moving forward. I’ve seen people abandon rides as they got cold and miserable. Stay warm, even if wet, and don’t ride with your clothing acting like a parachute slowing you down. Bus shelters are a great place to shelter in poor weather.

Take tyre levers and a couple of tubes with you daily and consider taking a spare tyre and oil to keep the bike moving after the wet.

5 Eating:

On the ride eat! Eat today, for today and for tomorrow. Eat within 30mins of stopping and make it carbs with some protein. 80/20% is good. Then eat again within 2 hrs. This is because your body is most ready to replenish itself immediately after stopping and will really put it away, after two hours this tails off. Eat whilst riding, and eat before you are hungry.

Your body carries enough glycogen for about 2hrs of exercise, less if it is intense. You can improve this by becoming fitter and hence more efficient, which means training your body to run more off it’s fat stores. But you also need to feed it during the ride to keep the glycogen in the muscles up. If you don’t feed it you will bonk (cycling term) or hit the wall, if you are a runner.

Food that I carry is Frusli bars (cheaper than the ‘special’ energy bars) and I use PSP to drink, but I use the unflavoured as it is cheaper and you can flavour it yourself with squash if you want. I keep a few power gels in case of need. I also ate quite a lot of cake on my end to end!

Also drink before you are thirsty. Get into the habit of drinking, and target maybe a bottle every two hours, more if it is hot. Giving yourself a target will make sure you drink it.

Continuing on the food theme. At some point you may feel awful, in a kind of general crapness. This is ok. DO NOT PANIC. Slow down and eat and drink. Your body will come back to you, but will need a little time, so treat it gentle and be nice to it.

6 Head:

Believe that you will do this ride and complete it. At the same time don’t think of it all at once in case of overwhelming yourself with the challenge. Break it down into blocks, days, villages, turnings, hours, summits, lamp posts if need be. Make them achievable, but always believe. It is not IF you do it, simply how long. Do not allow your head to give in. If there is a group of you, you can help each other, just be aware that you may need to. Be aware that as you all begin to tire, your moods may well become affected and you may say things that none of you might normally say or indeed mean. Cut each other some slack and look after each other, both on the road and emotionally. As I said it is achievable, but it is hard, and that is what makes it worth it. If it was easy, they’d all be doing it.

If there is a group of you, you can also help with taking turns riding into the wind. Give it 5 mins each and you only need to be there twice in an hour which is maybe 10 to 12 times a day. Easy huh?

7 Gearing:

My general advice would be to start on cog bigger than you would normally ride, let the legs spin a bit, rather than push on. As the days go on you will find you have much reduced power anyway, so you may have to drop the gears. I ride 53/39 on the front and 13/27 on the rear and I can get up most hills on that. If you are laden with kit you will need lower. Many people now ride with a compact chainset on the front which gives a much lower spread of gears. Just remember as the days go on you will lose power in your legs.

8 Route:

Routes are available from various sources including the CTC and

The GPX files for my All SEWN up #lejog is at:

I would recommend that you stay off the main roads, especially if there is a group of you. I never fail to be amazed when I come across cyclists on dual carriageways and many A roads. On my lejog I picked direct minor roads, rarely anything bigger than a B road. Google Earth and its Street view are great for looking ahead at roads.

My main suggestion is that north of Inverness that you consider following the Sustrans route 1. It is pretty direct and on tracks beside the main road and then close to but off the A9. When driving back from JOG we saw cyclists on the A9 in amongst the cars, whereas there is no need.

9 The Start/Finish

I am convinced that the start/finish at John O’Groats is not the car park and sign post but is at the lighthouse at Duncansby head. If you don’t get there, the other pointy end, then I am not convinced you have done the full route.

10 Apps

I would recommend the free rainy days app, so you can at least see where the rain is and which way it is going. Google earth streetview is great for looking at roads in advance to see if they should be avoided.

Websites include for where the rain is now and an indication of where it is going, and for wind see 

Well I hope that has helped, I don’t know what your knowledge level or experience is, so sorry if you have found it patronising. I do believe you can do it if you want to. Do remember to enjoy it on the way, and anything hard or difficult is just part of the experience. My view was short of total mechanical failure of the bike or me I was going to get there.

Good luck, take care and stay alive, play nicely with the cars and most of all enjoy.


  1. very informative and helpful, thankyou

  2. Very helpful thank you! Especially the head paragraph! We are tackling lejog for charity starting Aug 3rd. 3 man team plus support.

  3. Attempting Jogle on 2nd May in 9 days, route planned via Strava. Thanks for a great write up and tips.

  4. Thanks for the affirmation and advice. Doing my first LeJog for my 40th this Sept with Deloitte RAB. Good to have ones thinking confirmed and know that I'm heading the right direction with training from someone who's done it :) Cheers!

  5. Thanks for the affirmation and advice. Doing my first LeJog for my 40th this Sept with Deloitte RAB. Good to have ones thinking confirmed and know that I'm heading the right direction with training from someone who's done it :) Cheers!

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