This post recounts the first day of my 14 day LEJOG19 adventure, on 4 August 2019. For tips based on my experience, please go to my blogpost How to ride Land’s End to John O’Groats
The moment had arrived. I along with 18 other cyclists were gathered by the famous sign at Land’s End, supported by three guides from organisers Peak Tours. There was laughter – and a few butterflies. Were we and our bikes up to the challenge? How would we cope on the endless hills of the West Country?
As always, Land’s End struck me as a place to leave, rather than a destination. (A good reason to cycle from there to John O’Groats, rather than the other way. Even more important, the prevailing wind will usually be a helpful tailwind rather than an infuriating headwind slowing you down.)
The ride to Penzance was surprisingly fast which banished my nervousness and we were soon cycling along the seafront to the first Peak Tours ‘brew stop’. This was a wonderful moment as we were given mugs with our names on for us to grab a coffee and an array of snacks to keep energy and morale as high as the Cornish hills.
Having cycled LEJOG in 2002 along the north coast of Cornwall, I relished the softer scenery of this southern route skirting Truro and heading across the river Fal on the King Harry ferry. (There’s something special about taking a bike on a ferry, especially a rare chain ferry like this one.) We were making good time, and even reached the pub lunch stop at the Royal Oak at Perranwell before it opened!
Those Cornish hills proved manageable until the very last one, a brute of an incline near the lovely harbour village of Fowey. But I was soon approaching Fowey and the nice surprise of a gem of a pub as the night’s accommodation, the Galleon Inn. It was right on the harbour and my room was in a modern, comfortable wing. A perfect place for a meal to get to know my fellow cyclists and to watch the boats go by.
Pre-ride to Land’s End from Cape Cornwall: 7 miles, 400 feet climbing, average speed 13.8mph
Land’s End to Fowey: 65 miles, 4,878 feet climbing, 4 hrs 43 minutes cycling, 13.8mph average speed