Charity Bike Ride

23rd May 2018

Day 11: Tuesday 31st July. Altnaharra to John o'Groats. The final day!                                     

   LEJOG 2018: Altnaharra to John o'GroatsLEJOG 2018: Altnaharra to John o'Groats

Day 11 from Altnaharra (otherwise known as the midge capital of the universe) to John o’ Groats would be our last of this amazing journey. Slightly shorter than previous days it allowed us to enjoy a cooked breakfast for the first time and leave a little later than usual. A full English was ordered but a full Scottish was delivered. Apparently people get shot around these parts for that mistake. 

Our route today took us due North to the coast and then due East to John o’ Groats along the coastal road and Cycle Route 1. A fierce Southerly blew all day which was helpful for the morning and then irritable for the afternoon. It’s hard to remember if we have had a headwind at all throughout this trip, but the blowy crosswinds for four hours certainly made up for that. Concentration required. Our second puncture of the whole ride occurred when Keith’s "puncture resistant tyres" gushed sealant and required 30 minutes to fit an inner tube. Two flat tyres in a cumulative 4,000 miles of roads is darn good though.

After reaching the coast the scenery changed from vast Highland openness to rolling hills and regular scattered villages. Predominantly straight roads took us efficiently from Bettyhill to Thursk for lunch and on to our final destination. A surprising number of beautiful sandy beaches presented themselves in secluded coves. If only I’d brought my trunks…. 

In the last miles we visibly relaxed as it become more apparent that the journey was complete and we had made it with no major issues. Except for Steve who was seen emptying his water bottles and tightening his shoes readying for a sprint finish! That wasn’t in the script and we all finished together to a small gathering of our supporters around the signpost. As a surprise, our southern support driver Graham had caught the train from Preston too. 

After the celebratory bubbles, photos and chitchat with onlookers I rode further East to Duncansby Head to see a puffin colony and some fantastic coastal views. Despite the strong wind, we enjoyed very favourable blue skies for the whole day. I imagine this part of the country rarely looks as fantastic as it did today. 

This evening we have celebrated in Inverness and toasted a successful trip. The length of the country on bicycles in ten days. Expertly planned and co-ordinated by Gerry and adeptly supported by Graham, Vicky, Andy and Paul, with assistance from spouses and children! Guest appearances from Richard and Scott kept us company during the trip which covered (just) over 1,000 miles. We are all hugely satisfied and thankful to all involved. 

The pictures above are, in order, the deer in morning mist at Altnaharra, the beautiful Scottish north coast beaches and the finishers' photo.

Finally, it is very satisfying to have raised over £3,000 for our chosen charities. Thank you to everyone who have contributed to these important causes.


Donations made to date: £3,105

KMs travelled today: 130

KMs travelled: 1,631 (1,013 miles)

Time moving today: 5hr:35mins

Total time moving: 67hrs:03mins

We are riding to support the great work done by Cancer Research UK and Sue Ryder Hospices. If you would like to make a small donation please click here: 

Day 10: Monday 30th July. Fort Augustus to Altnaharra. 

LEJOG 2018: Fort Augustus to AltnaharraLEJOG 2018: Fort Augustus to AltnaharraLEJOG 2018: Fort Augustus to Altnaharra

Day 10 from Fort Augustus to Altnaharra was longer than planned at 115.5 miles (186km) further into the Scottish Highlands. A slight detour at Inverness added a few miles but reduced the altitude climbed. Seemed a resonable trade off. We are now level with Norway and almost as North as we ride, before heading East to reach John O' Groats. Within 30 miles tomorrow we hit the North coast road and meander to our destination. Just one more day to go.

Today was more beautiful than yesterday as the sun shone for the majority of the day rather than yesterday’s washout. Scottish Highlands at their finest. We left Fort Augustus and cycled the length of Loch Ness on the quiet southern road rather than the busier northern A82. We stopped near the eastern end at Dores for the mandatory second breakfast. A brief heavy shower on the climb from the start was the only precipitation of the day. Loch Ness was stunning.

Gerry’s route planning has taken us on some unusual bike paths, tow paths and generally off the beaten path. This has been the scenic route rather than the quick route. Today’s route took us into a field, through nettles and thistle, over a wire fence and down 30 steps to cross a river that we could have simply used an earlier road for. Scenic at its best.

We finished in the very small hamlet of Altnaharra, famous for having a hotel (198 years old) and barely anything else (except lots of midges and deer). The road from Lairg was perhaps the emptiest I have ever ridden. A friendly tailwind and silky soft tarmac (in places) made the gentle incline a breeze. Endless views of empty grasslands, distant mountains and a ribbon of tarmac. You could tell that we are nearing the end of the country. Life here is few and far between. Dinner was sublime. We are certainly staying for a proper breakfast in the morning rather than opting for the quick porridge option.

The pictures above are, in order, stopping on the Loch Ness road to enjoy the view, the scenic river crossing, and the open road to Altnaharra. 

We are all looking forward to a shorter ride tomorrow and then heading back to Inverness to celebrate. Less than 80 miles remain between us and John o’ Groats. We are all a little weary. Steve and Keith are nursing knackered bodies. Gerry is finishing on the spare bike after a terminal diagnosis of the broken front derailleur. The weather looks very favourable for a glorious end to an amazing journey. 

We are riding to support the great work done by Cancer Research UK and Sue Ryder Hospices. If you would like to make a small donation please click here:


Total donations received: £3,060

KMs travelled today: 186

Total KMs travelled: 1501

Time moving today: 7hr:34mins

Total time moving: 61hrs:28mins



Day 9: Sunday 29th July. Callander to Fort Augustus. Donation target achieved!

Day 8: Callander to Fort AugustusDay 8: Callander to Fort AugustusDay 8: Callander to Fort AugustusDay 8: Callander to Fort Augustus

Day 9 from Callander to Fort Augustus was a massive 115 miles (185km - our longest day) into the Scottish Highlands. Far and away the most anticipated day on the route for me, getting into the real Scotland. Mountains, climbing, wonderful descents and unique vistas. Sadly, the rain came early and stayed with us all day, leaving us very wet and uncomfortable for the majority of the ride. The breathtaking scenery of Glenogle, Glencoe, Tyndrum, Loch Lochy and Loch Ness were shrouded in heavy cloud. Despite the rain, this was still the best day so far. 

For the first part of the ride I was joined by a great friend of mine, Scott Waddell, a (not-so) local from Carnoustie who drove for 4 hours in total with his dad just to ride for 90 minutes with us. That means a lot. Scott and I have had several adventures in his home country already. This was another and many more will come. Maybe one day it will be sunny also? We shared the roads up to Fort William with other event cyclists from Edinburgh on their way to Ben Nevis, although I doubt that they climbed to the peak in the bad weather. That’s a big day out. 

During today’s ride I mentally assimilated a definitive list of subtle actions available to the modern cyclist to relieve numbness in saddle area, especially after 53 hours riding with sodden shorts. These actions will allow for the modern cyclist to continue moving at a brisk pace while relieving any soreness, albeit temporarily, in the rear region. All of these were deployed on regular occasions today. For your reference, these are:

* Shuffle slightly forward on the saddle

* Shuffle slightly backward on the saddle

* Ride out of the saddle (beware the cyclist behind in case of any momentary deceleration)

* Tilt pelvis slightly forward on the saddle

* Tilt pelvis slightly backward on the saddle

* Clench and release

A slightly shorter route tomorrow in terms of distance, but our highest in terms of elevation to conquer. 172km to Altnaharra with almost 2,000m of climbing. Our longest climb of the whole trip awaits us after breakfast, up the south side of Loch Ness. We finish in very sparse country tomorrow, with a short 130km for Day 10. Only two days to go.

We are riding to support the great work done by Cancer Research UK and Sue Ryder Hospices. If you would like to make a small donation please click here: 


Total Donated to Date: £3,020

KMs travelled today: 185

Total KMs travelled: 1315

Time moving today: 6hr:57mins

Total time moving: 53hrs:54mins


Day 8: Saturday 28th July. Moffat to Callander. 

LEJOG 2018: Moffat to CallanderLEJOG 2018: Moffat to CallanderLEJOG 2018: Moffat to Callander

Day 8 from Moffat to Callander was a huge 107 miles (173km) further into Scotland. Today’s ride is easily described as a tour of Glasgow’s waterways bookended by beautiful mountain vistas. We started with a stunning road out of Moffat to the very small village of Abington for the mandatory second breakfast. I opted for ‘Lorne’ (square sausage) and coffee which was simple but delicious. The final 30 miles took us up into the hills again on the edge of the Loch Lomand National Park.

In the middle was a surprisingly flat dissection of Glasgow following the River Clyde and River Leven northwards. Very well maintained cycle paths, tow paths and roaring tailwind made progress relitively easy. By the time we arrived in Glasgow we had dried out from the early heavy rain and then managed to successfully dodge it for the remainder of the day.

Some little bad luck did catch up with us today, most notably for Gerry. A first puncture from whacking a curb, a malfunctioning front gear changer and a bee sting on the head did not help spirits after being soaked upon departure. The late finish however was quickly forgotten with the best meal of the trip so far.  Very delightful food served by very hospitable owners of the Callander Meadows hotel and restaurant. Highly recommended.

Some tough miles completed today, especially with the rain to start with. An even longer route tomorrow awaits. 113 miles up to Fort Augustus via Glencoe. This is the day I’ve been most looking forward to all trip. Scottish scenery at it’s finest. And perhaps a little bit of rain to bring out the extremely competent rain jackets once more. As an added bonus, a good friend will be joining us for a few early miles too. 

We’ve been moving for over 46 hours since leaving Land’s End. That is now longer than the current world record, and we still have three days of riding to go. Plus we’ve had 8 night’s sleep and numerous stops for cake! No records for us!

We are riding to support the great work done by Cancer Research UK and Sue Ryder Hospices. If you would like to make a small donation please click here: 


KMs travelled today: 173

Total KMs travelled: 1130

Time moving today: 7hr:18mins

Total time moving: 46hrs:57mins

Day 7: Friday 27th July. Kendal to Moffat. 

LEJOG 2018: Kendal to MoffatLEJOG 2018: Kendal to MoffatLEJOG 2018: Kendal to MoffatLEJOG 2018: Kendal to Moffat

Day 7 from Kendal to Moffat took us 93 miles (150km) out of Cumbria and England and into Scotland! Quite a short day and, once we left England, not very memorable roads. I'm looking forward to the Scottish highlands, but the boarder roads are very uninspiring, basically running aside the A47M motorway. 

Today's 'second breakfast' was in Penrith with a live piano accompaniment from the local music shop. The second breakfast was all the more enjoyable as it came after passing over Shap, the highest point of the whole ride at 420m above sea level. After almost 350 vertical meters climbed we had earned the bacon, sausage etc. 

Today we were joined again by Andy for some miles and in full by Paul. The weather Gods took a last favourable look at us today, with very helpful tailwinds and blue skies for the majority of the ride. Tomorrow, things change. We are expecting to don our rain jackets and reach for the overshoes for the first time in the ride. Sunday and Monday don’t look very promising either. I always seem to have rubbish weather in Scotland. 

Gerry is in fine fettle with four days to go. Steve’s shoulders are aching, but legs are in good shape. Keith’s new saddle has remarkably worked. Our new support driver Vicky (Keith’s long-suffering wife) has joined us for the remainder of the trip with their youngest. 

Tomorrow takes us North West through Glasgow and then North East to Callander. A very long day in store. Premier Inns have been replaced with local B&Bs. Tonight’s in very pleasant ( Breakfast will be a prompt affair as I need to put the mudguards on the bike before we leave.

We are riding to support the great work done by Cancer Research UK and Sue Ryder Hospices. If you would like to make a small donation please click here:






KMs travelled today: 150

Total KMs travelled: 957

Time moving today: 6hr:08mins

Total time moving: 39hrs:39mins





Day 6: Thursday 26th July. Ferry Cross The Mersey!  Chester to Kendal.

 LEJOG 2018: Chester to KendalLEJOG 2018: Chester to KendalLEJOG 2018: Chester to Kendal

Day 6 from Chester to Kendal took us 108 miles (174km) out of Cheshire (briefly into Wales), through Lancashire and into Cumbria. Our longest day so far and we’re in the last English county before Scotland. Day 6 completed and we’re halfway. A late finish due to long lunch breaks and an earlier traverse of the Mersey. On a Ferry. Yes, that’s right. Gerry and the Pacemakers took a ferry across the Mersey. Kinda had to be done. 

After the standard photo opportunities on the Liverpool side of the Mersey, we headed North to Leyland (me, to have lunch with my nan and parents) and Preston (the others, to have lunch with Graham, our support driver until yesterday). We re-grouped to head into Cumbria and our final Identikit rooms at Kendal Premier Inn. The highlight reel of the day included an ice-cream stop before Lancaster, the Ferry (obviously, everyone loves a ferry) and my nan’s sandwiches (obviously, everyone loves their nan). 

Thank you to my nan (awesome) and Frances the chatty stranger in Lancaster for their charity contributions today.

Today we were joined by Andy for some miles and, in the evening by Paul who will ride in Scotland with us from tomorrow. Fresh legs and fresh conversation will be welcome. After five days together I’m starting to get deja vu about some of the drivel coming out of our mouths. Or is that dribble? 

Finally for tonight, for those that have asked, Keith’s saddle change seems to have worked a treat. There is photographic evidence of him at the front of the group today and sat down on a new overpriced seat. That’s progress. Five more days until John O Groats. Will the derriere cream last?

Oh, and finally, finally, the rumours of Steve Simpkins and the ‘very nice masseuse with a lisp’ are false. They did not catch an earlier train to Gretna together. The Fab 4 remain together and press on to Moffat tomorrow. Scotland, here we come!

We are riding to support the great work done by Cancer Research UK and Sue Ryder Hospices. If you would like to make a small donation please click here: 


Total raised: £2,795

KMs travelled today: 174

Total KMs travelled: 807

Time moving today: 6hr:49mins

Total time moving: 33hrs:31mins


 Day 5: Wednesday 25th July. Hereford to Chester

LEJOG 2018 Hereford to ChesterLEJOG 2018 Hereford to ChesterLEJOG 2018 Hereford to Chester

Day 5 from Hereford to Chester took us 96 miles (155km) out of Herefordshire, through Shropshire and into Cheshire. Mostly country lanes again and only brief acquaintances with the A49. A jarring finale on the Shropshire Union Canal towpath brought us to Chester city centre and another Identikit Premier Inn. Today felt slightly easier than yesterday, a couple of miles shorter but less challenging hills. 

We enjoyed a second breakfast in beautiful Ludlow after deciding against ‘Big Trev’s’ burger van just outside Hereford. Much banter was had with a gaggle of Octogenarians on the next table. Lunch stop in Upton Magna, cake stop in Whitchurch and done by 5:15. And repeat, times ten. Sounds so simple. 

Today was a day of goodbye’s. Firstly, and sadly, to Richard who rode with us yesterday and today. The quality of conversation will undoubtedly fall once again. Secondly, to Graham, our support driver who made our lives considerably easier by locating cafes, booking us into hotels in advance and generally being a top bloke. Keith’s wife takes over the support from here. 

And thirdly, and happily (at least that’s the hope), goodbye to Keith’s troublesome saddle and saddle-sores. Keith has been noticeably missing from the front of our little peloton these past few days, not due to a lack of energy or team-spirit, but because he has been predominantly cycling 'out of the saddle'. This is not easy or sensible to do at the front of the lycra-line. The reasons for this I will leave to your darkest imaginations. A quick diversion to a Chester bike store today will hopefully increase Keith’s happiness by the same magnitude as the decrease in his soreness. 

Steve Simpkins also took the opportunity for an impromptu physio appointment with a ‘very nice man with a lisp’ to relax his sore shoulders and knee ligaments. Tomorrow should be an altogether more enjoyable day for them both. Gerry and I remain reasonably ailment-free, and long may that continue. Six days to go! 

Onwards and upwards! Tomorrow we ride due North to Kendal where it starts to get rather lumpy. Rumour has it, there’s a nice tailwind to be had. Oh, and a little boat trip too. 

We are riding to support the great work done by Cancer Research UK and Sue Ryder Hospices. If you would like to make a small donation please click here: 


Total raised to date: £2,670

KMs travelled today: 155

Total KMs travelled: 633

Time moving today: 6hr:17mins

Total time moving: 26hrs:42mins

Day 4: Tuesday 24th July. Bridgwater to Hereford

LEJOG 2018: Bridgwater to HerefordLEJOG 2018: Bridgwater to HerefordLEJOG 2018: Bridgwater to HerefordLEJOG 2018: Bridgwater to Hereford

Day 4 from Bridgwater to Hereford took us 100 miles (162km) out of Somerset, through Gloucestershire, briefly into Wales via Monmouthshire and finishing in Herefordshire. Four counties in one day under warm, yet thankfully overcast skies. After yesterday’s mostly Easterly direction, we turned predominantly North and made good progress ‘up’ the country. 

Less gravel today, more lanes and a little more ‘faster’ roads too. We’re finding the faster roads more stressful with vehicles but thankful for the quicker progress. The record for the whole ‘LEJOG’ journey is 43 and a half hours, predominantly on A roads. Totally amazing. We’re obviously taking a more relaxed strategy and enjoying a more scenic route and stopping for Mr Whippy’s when possible. 

We were joined today (and tomorrow) by our friend Richard, fresh from cycling in the Alps. Additional helping legs and a different conversation was very welcome. The task that lies ahead remains significant; tomorrow we will pass the one-third distance marker. A few muscle niggles and sores are starting to arrive which we will have to overcome. Keith is considering changing saddles which is usually a ‘no-no’ mid-way through a long ride. This may resolve his creaking bike (saddle/seat post related), but potentially wreak further havoc on his derriere. 

The highlights today included the ascent of Cheddar Gorge, the beautiful Somerset climb past the cheese caves, riding over the old Severn Bridge and the aforementioned Mr Whippy stop in Monmouth. Dinner was very pleasant at the Premier Inn/Beefeater restaurant. On the low side was a particularly uninspiring cycle route through the less salubrious Western parts of Bristol avoiding burnt out cars and local drug dealers. You don’t see that in Marlow. 

Onwards and upwards! Tomorrow we ride due North to Chester via Shrewsbury. 

We are riding to support the great work done by Cancer Research UK and Sue Ryder Hospices. If you would like to make a small donation please click here:




Total raised to date: £2,670 

KMs travelled today: 162

Total KMs travelled: 478

Time moving today: 6hr:52mins

Total time moving: 20hrs:25mins

Day 3: Monday 23rd July. Bude to Bridgwater

LEJOG 2018: Bude to BridgwaterLEJOG 2018: Bude to BridgwaterLEJOG 2018: Bude to Bridgwater

Day 3 from Bude to Bridgwater took us out of Cornwall, through Devon and into Somerset. The weather Gods smiled happily upon us once again with a generally overcast day but pleasantly warm. We received messages from home of 30+ degree heat which we thankfully avoided. 

Our route kept us on the National Cycle Route 3 for almost the whole day. The Cornish hills were replaced with quiet and rolling Devonshire lanes and extensive periods on dusty gravel towpaths. Although these towpaths reduced our average speed they did increase the tranquility of the ride. As an added bonus, the crackling of tires on gravel overwhelmed the incessant creaking from Keith’s bike. 

Our lunch stop was at ‘Elsie May’s Cafe’, located next to Tiverton’s main bus station and multi-storey car park and was actually more delightful than it sounds. Well fed, we left with the parting words from the proprietor, “I would avoid stopping in Bridgwater, if I were you, it’s a bit of a dump.” Hmmmm. We arrived at our pre-booked Bridgwater hotel several hours later. Happily, we were greeted by Richard (joining us for 2 days), Mark and their families for a pleasant evening with food and laughter.

With two long days completed we are already getting into a routine. Simple breakfasts. 2hr-ish stints in the saddle between stops. Sugary Coke with every meal. General moaning about the hills/gravel/creaks and a distinct lack of Keith’s presence on the front of the line. Saving himself for a strong display in Scotland, we hope.

Tomorrow we ride through Somerset, Gloucestershire, briefly into Wales and on to Hereford, with a slight detour to climb the impressive Cheddar Gorge. 100 miles.   

We are riding to support the great work done by Cancer Research UK and Sue Ryder Hospices. If you would like to make a small donation please click here:  


Total raised to date: £2,550

KMs travelled today: 153

Total KMs travelled: 316

Time moving today: 6hr:39mins

Total time moving: 13hrs:33mins

Day 2: Sunday 22nd July. First Full day: Camborne to Bude

LEJOG 2018: Day 2 Camborne to BudeLEJOG 2018: Day 2 Camborne to BudeLEJOG 2018: Day 2 Camborne to BudeLEJOG 2018: Day 2 Camborne to Bude

In the brief chat with the 'end-to-end' finishers at Land’s End yesterday they said the worst leg was their last; which would be our first. We knew this would be likely already, Cornwall has a reputation for being very challenging without any meaningful climbs of note. Somehow you are either going up or down a steep little climb. And this is how it proved, and we were grateful for getting even a few of those tough kms in the bag yesterday. At 8:45 we rolled out to cover 120kms to Bude. 

At halfway we rested for lunch and joined the Camel Trail, a dusty ex-railway route slowly rising under tree shadows next to the River Camel, a gentle re-start before the main climbing started, and very pleasant with many other cyclists and walkers enjoying the river sounds. At the end of the trail we joined National Cycle Route 3 and 304 up to Bodmin Moor. The landscapes here were surprisingly vast helped by glorious wide blue skies. Apparently it is not always like this. We undulated off the Moor and rolled into Bude for a hotter-than-anticipated Thai curry. I even had time for a quick swim in the beautiful Bude bay before dinner to complete a great day. Legs are fine but Keith’s bike is starting to creak. About 900 miles to go!

We are riding to support the great work done my Cancer Research UK and Sue Ryder Hospices. If you would like to make a small donation please click here:


Total raised to date: £2,550

Total KMs travelled: 163

Time moving today: 5hr:20

Total time moving: 6hr:53 

 Day 1: Saturday 21st July 2018. And they're off! Land's End to Camborne

 LEJOG 2018 St Michael's MountLEJOG 2018 Day 1 Land's End to Camborne

Gerry, Steve, Keith and I left Reading at 8am and arrived at the first evening's hotel by early afternoon. After checking in and collecting our driver Graham from Penzance we were at Land’s End by 5:30. We arrived at the symbolic signpost to hear five young guys singing “What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor” to celebrate finishing their journey from John O’Groats. They had certainly practiced this sea shanty and were very polished, something like this:

They looked totally shattered but had a large crowd enjoying their moment with them and spraying champagne. They wished us good luck as we had our group photo taken and departed. Gerry and the Pacemakers were on their way. 

For us, this was a short ride to test the bikes and legs after the long journey in the car. 43km in very pleasant conditions with a brief stop opposite St Michael’s Mount for a photo and rolling into Camborne in quick time for a shower, food and rest. The bikes and legs all in good condition. Tomorrow is Day 1 proper, 119km with some punchy hills to Bude. As Gerry mentioned as we ticked off the first few km’s, it still doesn’t feel real. I’m sure it will soon.

We are riding to support Cancer Research UK and Sue Ryder Hospices. If you would like to make a small donation please click here:  

Thank you!


Total raised to date: £2,425

KMs travelled today: 43

Total KMs travelled: 43

Time moving today: 1hr:33

Total time moving: 1hr:33


Only one day to go before the big off and the final limbering and stretching is under way as our MAMIL (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) prepare for the long drive to Land's End.

Gerry and The Pacemakers, consisting of two of PFM's advisers - Gerry Twardzik and Steven Smith (the two helmeted-ones looking at the camera in the picture above) - and Steve and Keith, two of their cycling friends, will be squeezing into their lycra, mounting their two-wheeled stallions and cycling from Lands End to John O'Groats to raise funds for some well-deserving cancer charities.

The pair have set themselves an ambitious target of completing the journey between the 21st and 31st of July and you will be able to follow their progress on this website.

PFM are pleased to be sponsoring some of their kit and everyone at PFM HQ will be cheering them on all the way. 

We hope you will join us in supporting their chosen charities by pledging a spot of your spare cash via their Just Giving page, which can be reached by clicking here. With one day to go before the big off they have reached 81% of their £3,000 target with £2,425 already pledged.