Posts Tagged ‘lejog’

Last day in London – cycling the superhighways and final LEJOG packing.

September 1, 2015 2 comments

Went for delicious South Indian lunch in Tooting along the CS7 cycle superhighway. Good points: wide, clearly marked and hence mostly clear of the traffic queued up alongside. Bad points: whoever thought coating most of a cycle path in blue paint that turns slick in water was a good idea in Britain?! Buses and lorries were really good to cycle around – very respectful and giving nice wide berths and purposefully avoiding cutting us up. Taxis and smaller delivery vehicles were totally a different, variable, story.

Then some last minute shopping in town. Prob only did 20 miles in total today between lunch and then this afternoon’s shopping, but it also felt like nothing to do, so hopefully this bodes well for not feeling the strain horrifically, although obviously it will be a massive step up from 20 miles lightly laden to full camping gear. And the hills of Cornwall… But also we’re not going for speed and we will have all day. I expect it to be tough, but that I’ll cope. Most worried in case its wet and cold and miserable all the time. If its at least a bit sunny I’ll enjoy the feeling of flying that I get from cycling and even pushing the bike up hill won’t be unbearable.

So here’s the obligatory pre packing photos.

Obligatory pre packing shot
Top row : panniers, bike helmet, waterproof jacket (not very good and failed to upgrade today. Hope to find better one in shop along the way), foldable down day pack.

2nd row : Small things (details below), camping mat (multimat adventure air), tent (force ten helium 200), sleeping bag (force ten nano -5), toiletries (details below), rainbow flag for pannier rack

3rd row : cooking pots, stove (vango), gas cylinder for stove, warm hat, microfibre towel, yellow dry bag for clothes, clothes (details below), pink laundry bag.

Small bits and pieces

Small bits and pieces

Emergency poncho (my equivalent of generation game’s cuddly toy!), USB rechargable torch/power pack, tent pegs, survival blanket, head torch, spare guy rope, knife, emergency whistle, chain wire saw, compass, thermos flask with integrated tea/coffee strainer. bike lock (purely for deterrent whilst inside cafes etc) travel mug, stove, pans, pirate bandana.

Toiletries etc

Toiletries etc

Nitrile gloves and first aid tape. Moisturiser with 15 spf, small bottles half full with colour safe shampoo and conditioner (my hair is currently dyed blue and I want it to stay that way as long as possible!), multi purpose travel soap, foldaway toothbrush, toothpaste, ear plugs, menstrual cup, toilet paper, eye ointment and mirror to apply it with.

USB cable and plug, kindle, 16gb USB stick with both USB and OTG connections, another USB stick, pens, zip lock bag.



(Above is just my tops rolled up)

6 pairs knickers. 3 pairs sporty type socks, 1 pair airline socks (for keeping dry and wearing in sleeping bag only), silk long johns, swimsuit, waterproof trousers (sadly just boil in the bag type), 1 pair long quick dry trousers, 1 pair 3/4 length quick dry shorts, 2 cycle tops, 1 short sleeve quick dry top, light summer dress, long sleeve merino thin top, thermal but thin polo neck top, fleece.

Some other stuff is in Vince’s bags, mostly sporks and bike tools. Got 2 water bottles – one which fits into cage on bike. And little handlebar bag with clear top for phone and room for road snacks.

Train Glasgow -> Manchester. Leaving Glasgow for lejog trip

August 27, 2015 Leave a comment

About to leave from Glasgow CentralOn the road again. On my way. My bike, beloved, is there. I’m really doing this! This trip is really happening! Can’t believe it. Unreal and exciting. How will it be? Will it be wet, cold, miserable, punishing hills, saddle sore? Wet tent, cold sleepless nights? Will we get injured? Robbed?

A month on the road! Oh what a wonderful thing I have brought about for myself. A glorious month of waking up somewhere new. Seeing miles pass by. Flying along country lanes, along rivers, waking up surrounded by nature, feeling progress made under out own steam.

But first a friend’s wedding, then a few days in London, and then the train to Penzance.

Small towns, tea shops, local flavours, the rhythm of the road, morning coffee and home made cakes. Hospitable hostelries at the end of a day in the saddle.

Passing Carlisle now. Always feels significant, in either direction. This time, feel the travelling south to go north. Winding up the miles that we will later unwind. Today 100 miles took just over an hour. In a few weeks this same leg will take a few days. Reminds me of the bus home after doing the West Highland Way, except this time its the other way round.

Bike next to em on the trainI packed whilst I was full of nerves still. I ended up ignoring the packing list that I’d made in a more sensible headspace and don’t have the best stuff. But I worked/saved up for months to afford this trip so I have money in the bank if I upgrade any of my gear along the route. Unlike most of my long distance walking / wild camping trips we will be passing “civilisation” regularly.

What I lack in physical (or mental) prowess, I make up for in bloody minded stubbornness. Several times I’ve walked with feet so sore I was crying, but kept myself going. Barring theft or injury I will complete this trip. And it is both a challenge and a gift that I have made for myself (with a lot of help from my best friend/travelling companion).

I plan on posting a photo and short diary entry most days. Hope they don’t get annoying for folks, and won’t feel in any way offended if you turn off notifications.

Categories: lejog Tags: , ,

OMG commitment! #lejog prep – train tickets and bike chosen.

August 5, 2015 1 comment

omg commitment!! have booked train tickets for heading off for lejog! terrifying! leaving 27th august as friend’s wedding en route in manchester, and then onto london, will work on the sunday and bank holiday monday, and then head to penzance from london on wed 2nd.

And going to buy bike probably today! not telling you what it is in case someone says “omg not that one” after i’ve paid out! it seems to satisfy requirements within budget (£400 on the nose) and is not spectacularly wonderful bike, as seems i don’t have budget for that, but will do. has: reasonably specced parts for the budget, front and back pannier attachment points, disk brakes (i had taken that off requirement list but this bike has them anyway), steel front forks and diamond shaped frame. and is in my size and feels ok to ride. i don’t know enough to say whether its “comfortable” as i’ve only ever had bikes that were friend’s cast offs, so am used to them being randomly sized and being ok with that. it didn’t seem bad to ride. isn’t particularly lightweight, but have been seriously eyeing up road bikes and might treat myself to something cute and speedy if i can face being in a saddle ever again after september!

Helium 200 tent, multimat adventure air mat and Nano -5 sleeping bag next to bike pannierAlso tried packing my panniers for first time today. My shiney new sleeping bag (got a force ten nano -5 for £75 in the sales!), multimat adventure air inflatable camping mat (sooo comfy, lightweight and compact) and helium 200 tent fit into one of my panniers with some space to spare :) Leaves plenty of space for clothes, cooking stuff, washkit etc (not too much of the cetera though ;) ) in the other. Though might spread them out differently to make the panniers balanced. So far not needing front panniers, but the bike has the option for them. Obv I would rather travel as light as possible!

Excited and nervous. Every time I see a bike with panniers these days I get a bit dreamy. Its going to be incredible to see the length of this island and will be an amazing adventure. Its also going to be bloody tough, especially first couple of weeks. I will be nowhere near road fit – I simply don’t have the time to get the miles in between now and then.

The best physical training for a big cycle tour is to ride a really heavy bike a really long way. Obviously. Guess what? You can do that by going on a big cycle tour. Start off gently. In less than a fortnight you’ll be as fit as you’ll ever need to be. ( )

So, inspired, excited, nervous here I am. I’ve set the wheels in motion and soon I’ll be off on another adventure. Between then and now I have a mini adventure (train from Glasgow to Berlin, hacker camp there, and then home via 2 nights in Oslo) because life is too short to not do all the things I’m excited by. I guess I’ll rest up some over the winter! Though those who know me even a little might find that amusing/unlikely!

I’m doing lejog specifically in September, because I wanted to face my 40th birthday with a challenge, something new, and something I’ve long wanted to do (both a long cycle trip and this journey in particular). I want to say “fuck you” to society’s and my internalised prejudices about what it means to acquire years. This is my one chance at life, and I don’t intend on looking back regretting not following my dreams.

Categories: lejog Tags: , ,

Ambitions / bucket list – surface travel

October 28, 2014 Leave a comment

I’ve just started a new category on my blog. Its another personal, rather than political, thing. Just decided to keep track of things I want to do on here, my blog, as its already existing infrastructure/account etc rather than starting another account somewhere else. I don’t know who would be interested, but its my blog, and so I reserve the right to be unreservedly narcissistic as I’m not chewing anybody’s ear off. Equally though, if anyone who’s done any of these things wants to comment/give me tips/get me even more excited about them, that would be great. Or if any of you want to share your own, related, things you’re planning on doing, that would be cool.

I really like the feeling and sense of achievement of travelling by surface. It could be by vehicle – as when I spent 3 months in an old land rover overlanding in West Africa in 2001, or by foot – as in many and varied multi day hikes in Scotland. I love watching the landscapes change, getting a real appreciation of distance and feeling the place I’m in. These are trips I’ve wanted to do for a while. They all are doable, with research and preparation.

  • Lands End to John O’ Groats (LEJOG) by bike.
    Though I love travelling to other parts of the world, this wee island is pretty good too! I’ve never done a long distance cycle ride, but a very good friend told me about this one, last year. And since then I’ve been mulling it over. Well, yesterday I discovered that someone I know has done it, and that made it seem even more possible! And she’s about my size – I hadn’t realised before but somehow all those images of super fit macho guys doing cycling feats must have got into my brain and sub consciously I must have felt that this was beyond me. At least that’s the best explanation I can think of for my excitement at how much more possible me cycling LEJOG felt after finding out that another smallish female who I knew had! Watching the landscape change. Being able to look at a globe and know that I’d done corner to corner of that island under my own power*
  • Walking from my front door in Glasgow to Cape Wrath – the North West corner of Scotland (WHW -> CWT)
    Again, its about how much I enjoy the process of walking. The feeling of making progress under my own steam. The depth of landscape you see when you travel through it more intimately. The way my mind works when I’m walking. The challenge. The satisfaction. The beauty. The empowerment. I’d take the WHW (which I’ve done twice) and then there’s several routes on the Cape Wrath Trail (CWT), but I quite fancy one that goes via Glenfinnan.
  • Overlanding back to UK from India
    Don’t know whether I’ll have the resources (ie money/time) to do it after my next planned trip out there, but I have been eyeing up routes and it definitely looks doable, thanks to my UK passport. I was looking at India-Nepal-China-Russia. Would be a fascinating journey in its own right. This would be by public transport though – I’m not that brave!


That’s that for now. I guess I’ll keep using this new category to post updates on plans for this and other challenges. I don’t know how they’ll fit around my other life goals of making a positive difference in the world, but I realised thanks to some incredible people that my life can and must be about all of my passions if I’m to be sustainable. Also I’m not sure when I’ll do all these. A lot of that depends on the ebola crisis. If needed I’m prepared to go to West Africa soon after my course finishes in February. Otherwise I’d like to do at least one of these next year.


* with the massive assistance of science and technology to use levers to efficiently turn my effort into distance, over routes traversable because of social, political and economic factors, and that I’m able to do it at all because of feminists before me, and my own privilege in being able bodied and relatively well off. But somehow all that makes it more special, not less. Makes me appreciate interconnectedness, and motivated to reduce the oppressions that mean others find it harder to follow their dreams, or even dare to dream in the first place.