A Big thank you to Greg Holmes from Australasia Manchester who cycled the length of Britain solo to raise money for the Foundation. If you haven’t followed his journey on Instagram then read his entertaining daily updates below. His account proves that these challenges are no holiday!
LEJOG #1 – Lands End to Okehampton.
Ludicrously tough day in the saddle, my lack of training quickly became apparent. Turns out that doing no training for three weeks whilst doing 50+ hour weeks in a large extremely busy restaurant isn’t ideal preperation! Struggled from about 40 miles in. New record total ascent though. Weather held up nicely after a few showers early on.
If anyone isn’t sponsoring me because they’re thinking “I’m not just gonna donate money for Greg to go on holiday” then please think again, today was utterly hellish!!
Thank-you so much to everyone who has donated and to all the support & words of encouragement, it means the world. It’s a really good cause, the Tim Bacon Foundation raises money for Cancer Research. Link in Bio.
Special thanks to Chris & Colette for escorting me to the start and seeing me off in style.
Tomorrow we go again! Next stop Tom’s house in Bristol.
LEJOG #2 – Okehampton to Bristol
Another tough day in the saddle, I felt awful this morning until I got 5 sachets of porridge in the system, I even toyed with the idea of chucking some parakeet food in to substitute my usual Chia seeds but fortunately decided against it. My knees were very sore from yesterday although they eased up towards the end. Stunning scenery – the highlights of which were Cheddar Gorge & the Mendip Hills AONB. Good old friend Tom came out to guide me home the last 5 miles, his new flat is a palace & I’ve had a pizza the size of a dustbin lid. Tomorrow we go again, next stop Church Stretton in the Shropshire Hills AONB.
LEJOG #3 – Bristol to Church Stretton.
Tom escorted me to Chepstow over the Severn Bridge, stunning views & I bought 8 cakes for a tenner from Costa eating a blueberry muffin whole. Monmouthshire is jaw droppingly gorgeous. I struggled with my knees until taking my friend Felipe’s advice to take ibuprofen which I washed down with a whole packet of Jelly Babies and two Tunnocks tea cakes whole (it’s impolite to not eat them whole). Half an hour or so later I was flying without a peep from my knees and racing along listening to Patti Smith – Radio Ethiopia (in only my left ear Mum so I can listen for traffic with my right ) I chose to not check how far I’d gone/had to go today as everyone knows a watched kettle never boils. Started to flag a bit so sat on a grassy verge and got some funny looks as I did the Wim Hof breathing method (give it a whirl it’ll blow your mind) then chucked down 2 packets of Sainsbury’s sushi (ideal cycling food). Blink of an eyelid & Crack Up by Fleet Foxes later and I roll into quaint Church Stretton. Tomorrow I’m heading back to the coolest city in the UK & I’m being escorted back into town by my dear cycling pals The Mountain Goats, see you tomorrow chaps!
LEJOG #4 – Church Stretton to Manchester
8am alarm clock, Transcendental meditation, Wim Hof breathing, cold shower, 10 sachets of porridge, 3 ibuprofen and I’m ready to go! 1 minute into the ride and I realise my left knee and right ankle are extremely painful, I’m unable to put any power through the pedals and I limp downhill into pretty Shrewsbury feeling very low and hoping the painkillers kick in soon. The painkillers kick in and I’m as right as rain & as fresh as a daisy!
Meet cycling pals “The Mountain Goats” in Whitchurch and they tow me along at warp speed back towards my favourite city. Quick Wim Hof in Tatton Park and I’m on the home straight. Painkillers wear off and I’m back to wincing along gingerly on the pedals. Say farewell to the Goats and sit on the Bridgwater canal eating chocolate and the remnants of yesterday’s 8 Costa cakes congealed into one big cake mush summoning the strength for the final bit. Get home and within 20 seconds of being there my friends roll up with placards welcoming me home. If I wasn’t a double ‘ard lejogging bar steward I would’ve been bawling like a baby. One enormous wagamama later (I had a 42, a 107, a 110, a 93, a large 7, a 603 and a 700) and I’m ready to limp and wince my way up a ladder to bed.
Tomorrow we go again! (once the painkillers kick in)
LEJOG #5 – Manchester to Tebay.
There was at least a small part of me that wasn’t jumping for joy this morning at the prospect of cycling up to the very top of Scotland but after an emotional farewell to my houseplants, to the tippermost of the top I headed. I set off in completely the wrong direction – my subconscious sending me towards Manchester’s finest restaurant (Australasia) until what conscious thought I have left kicked in and after apologising to my garmin ” sowwy Garmina, I’ll make it up to you babez” I was on my way.
I was meeting my parents for lunch in Garstang and by the time I got there I was drenched as the weather had gone all “British”. My Mum had brought with her a magic pain relieving cream which I slathered liberally on the majority of my lower half, it seems to be effective
Morale thoroughly boosted I set off again at a good pace feeling quite strong and for one moment I thought the rain might be easing but then it got stronger, but once you’re completely drenched you can’t get wetter so I wasn’t too bothered
Stopped at a petrol station for a cherry coke and some marshmallow shaped but flumpy textured sugar which I inhaled straight into my bloodstream, as I left the attendant gave me a sincere & heartfelt “good luck out there mate” which I found funny as he was basically questioning my sanity for cycling in such conditions.
Loads of climbing in the last 20 miles, beautiful countryside and a friendly welcome at the B&B. The pub claimed they had stopped serving food but after a couple of advanced GC Holmes persuasion techniques (I’ll show you sometime) I was washing down some thoroughly edible food with 2 Heineken 0%ers.
My Uncle John is joining me in Carlisle tomorrow for 20 miles or so, it’ll be great to see him, and I’m completely indifferent about the weather, honest guv.
LEJOG #6 – Tebay to Moffat.
The good news is I’ve made it to Scotland. The bad news is that Scotland is bigger than almost anyone realises & I’ve still got a very long way to go.
Highlight of today was seeing my Uncle John, he joined me from Carlisle to Lockerbie and the weather was mostly lovely, today was the first day I didn’t put suncream on and consequently I’ve turned the usual comedy salmon colour.
Today was shorter than previous days but the last 15 miles were a real slog, both of my hands are going numb & my left foot is numb too but the good news is that my right foot is still capable of sending Matthew Le Tissier-esque 40 yarders looping into the top corner, you never lose that level of nonchalance.
Tomorrow is another very long one 100 miles ending up in Perth so I’m having an early night, I’ve prepared my breakfast with both water bottles primed with 5 sachets each of porridge.
LEJOG #7 – Moffat to Perth.
There’s one thing that people invariably ask you/make jokes about when you tell them you cycle long distances and I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. After each of these updates you’ve probably been left disappointed at it not being mentioned, you’re probably thinking “yeah yeah Greg you’ve got sore knees *yawn* and numb hands *booorrriinngg*, what I really want to know is…”
“Greggy-boy – TELL ME ABOUT YOUR UNDERCARRIAGE!!!”
Yesterday it became apparent that I had no choice but to bring out the big guns. A couple of Christmas’ ago my Mum bought me these padded hotpant things mostly as a joke, they’re actually really good and today I combined them with the usual padded bib short to give a double layer of padding which is pretty effective at protecting that crucial undercarriage region. The slight aesthetical problem is that it leaves me looking like I’ve had prosthetic booty implants. I look a bit like that guy from the moneysupermarket advert twerking down the street that got a record number of complaints about 5 years ago. A middle aged man with grotesquely oversized booty implants all wrapped up in lycra cycling the length of the British Isles. Anyway there’s way too much information and mental imagery for you. You’re welcome.
Today for the first time I started to think that the “You get stronger as you go along” thing isn’t a complete myth, I felt strong and really enjoyed the days cycling. Not as much as if I were on holiday or anything I must stress
Three days left and tomorrow I’m heading to Aviemore!
LEJOG #8 – Perth to Aviemore.
I spoke too soon yesterday about getting stronger and today I struggled with heavy legs through showers and a headwind on a tricky technical singletrack route around the base of the Cairngorms but I’ve made it to Aviemore where I used to come on holiday as a kid.
I was thinking actually, does anyone mind if I sack off the last 2 days? Think I’ve had enough cycling for a few months. My body has been complaining to my brain all week, and it’s gone from a few polite emails along the lines of: “can we get a quick chat about my workload recently please?” & “I’m starting to feel stretched too thinly in some areas” to today at one point my body went around to my brain’s house and scrawled on the garage door “I’M LEAVING YOU & I’M TAKING THE KIDS, YOU CAN KEEP THE DOG!!!”
Instead of cycling all day tomorrow I know of a cracking owl sanctuary nearby I’d like to visit, plus I’d really love to hit a steam room for a few hours. Then on Monday I fancy a game of golf actually.
Is that ok with you lot?
Retweet for Yes that’s fine
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You know the right thing to do.
LEJOG #9 – Aviemore to Rogart
Ok so after consuming the now standard 10 sachets of porridge this time sat in the foyer of Tesco Express Aviemore (I work in a restaurant darling the staff didn’t even check back) off I pop feeling strong and determined to make good time, I pass a sign for what may be my true calling (World Porridge Champion 2021?) and marvel at the wonder of this little old universe we call home.
Making great time heading into Inverness I see a fellow cyclist on the other side of the road fixing her bike, I offer my help & meet the lovely Naomi a kindred spirit fellow mentalist also travelling the length of the country for charity, but starting from John o’ Groats (JOGLE) & camping along the way instead of my decadent style of staying in 5*+ Hotels so elevating her mentalness to another level, I salute you! Great meeting you today Naomi & good luck with the rest of your trip!
I cracked on with the bit between my teeth listening to Time Out Of Mind by Bob Dylan featuring the song Highlands:-
“Well my heart’s in The Highlands, gentle and fair
Honeysuckle blooming in the wildwood air
Bluebells blazing where the Aberdeen waters flow
Well my heart’s in The Highlands
I’m gonna go there when I feel good enough to go”
Rolling into Rogart for the earliest finish of the journey so far at 6pm and admire some more cosmic machinations as the adorable b&b owners Sandy & Ian offer me a home cooked meal washed down with a vintage Ribena opened especially.
Last day tomorrow. Hmmm, sack it off for a game of golf? Not a feline’s chance south of heaven. I hate golf! By the way, sorry to anyone who seriously thought I was thinking about throwing in the towel yesterday! (I love you Mum xxx)
Tomorrow I go to the tippermost top of the entire cosmos! (or the tiny little island that we think’s a big deal on the tiny grain of sand Earth we think’s a big deal in the galaxy that’s really no big deal amongst galaxies, babe)
LEJOG #10 – Rogart to John o’ Groats.
7am alarm although I’ve been snoozing for a while as a cockerell has been doing his thang. 20 minute Transcendental meditation like a blissful luger hurtling between thoughts. Then the least glamorous activity that all mammals do. Then the porridge, downing the 2 full waterbottles in one then turning them upside down above my head; the remnants dripping onto my head as I stick out my tongue and lion’s roar like a rugby team at fresher’s week. The remnants of porridge dribble their way down as the blood drains from my face as I have the realisation that I’ve not done my morning Wim Hof breathing method!! And if you do it with a full stomach apparently you WILL projectile vomit! (perhaps an appropriate initiation for a rugby playing fresher but not acceptable for a lejogging greggy boy!) Anyway I decide to not overreact and chill out (literally) by having my usual cold shower. THE SHOWER UNIT DOES NOT GIVE ME THE OPTION FOR COLD WATER! I storm naked into the kitchen where the lovely Sandy is sat open mouthed and I force her to to chuck bucket after bucket of ice cold water over me in the front garden until the remnants of porridge have been washed away and I’m approaching a modicum of decorum with my morning routine. (For the more gullible of us, this last bit didn’t happen, I just giggled in the nice warm shower imagining it, and thought I must remember to include the scene in tonight’s debrief. I didn’t roar like a lion either, but I did feel like it )
So I hit the streets and pedaled away on the last leg of an epic journey. After much thought I’d decided to take the A9 route along the coast as it would have been much further going up through the middle of the Highlands plus I do enjoy cycling by the sea. I read somewhere recently that suggested the reason that artists & painters & poets & human beings in general have a deep longing for and fascination of the sea is that, like how water molecularity attracts water, it’s the water in the human body that gives us our innate attraction to the seaside and beyond.
A-roads are generally disliked by cyclists and rightly so due to the traffic & fatalities, I’d be warned that the A9 was particularly bad but in practice I thought it was a brilliant road to ride on, a good surface with a beautiful view of the sea, and it only got slightly dangerous when on a fast downhill section I decided to get a selfie of myself throwing a whole banana in the air then catching it straight down my throat like a seal does with a fish. I got a great shot though, I’ll share it sometime! You can really see the respect in the articulated lorry driver’s eyes in the background of the photo as he waggles his fist in admiration. (Only joking Mum xxx)
I was making great progress and after a quick pit stop leaving a brussel sprout amongst the winnets on the tiptray (restaurant lingo darling) I plowed on, my knees only slightly sore and the ankle injury I’d be nursing since day 2 had subsided into the strange sensation that someone had put a folded up empty crisp packet in my sock, and every time I checked there was no crisp packet, just the sensation. Weird. My grotesquely over sized booty implants were purring like a litter of kittens gorging themselves on chantilly cream as with a strong tailwind I was flying along the coast the fastest I’d been the whole trip. After a quick phone call to my Mum to say I was glad the Gloria Estefan CD had arrived I plowed on, Garmina wanted me to head inland again but I override her for the first time as I wanted to stay on the coast and before long I made it to Keiss where I was staying for the night only 7 miles from JOG. Marco the B&B owner took one look at my gangly frame and apologised for the size of the bed and laughed when I suggested sleeping in the bathroom. After a quick TM & WHM, I left for the final push without my panniers and without the stiff neck I’d had all day (funny that).
Without the panniers it was like stepping out of a red 1.1 litre F-reg Nissan Micra and into a sleek silver 1.8 litre 8th Gen Honda Civic with all the toys (glass roof, leather seats, cruise control, heated seats, I could go on all night, magic folding seats, cruise control oh I’ve said cruise control but you get my point) it was THAT much of a difference and I began sprinting in delight at the feeling of freedom from the panniers until I realised that my knees are not quite ready for that kind of thing thank-you very much! (I’m sure they’ll grow back eventually)
I’d read that reaching JOG can be a bit of an anticlimax, but it wasn’t for me, I had a lovely experience. A nice lady took the obligatory victory photo and after a quick congratulatory phone call with my parents I made my way to the nearby fish & chip shop, there was a sign on the door that read “Opening at 17.15”, I looked down at my watch and it was exactly 17.15! A massively enjoyed but thoroughly mediocre fish and chips later, and with 4 identical souvenir trinkets in my back pocket I sauntered back to the B&B in Keiss where I’m writing this.
THANK-YOU to everyone for all the messages of support & encouragement & for the extremely generous donations, we’re currently on £1925 which I’m completely blown away with.