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Community => Cycle Tours => Topic started by: ourclarioncall on April 12, 2021, 06:27:48 PM

Title: UK Tour planning
Post by: ourclarioncall on April 12, 2021, 06:27:48 PM
Is there any tried and tested tours or routes in the U.K. that would be safe for a beginner ?

Im in Scotland so Im familiar with this turf but not so much England and Wales

I would maybe be up for Lands end to John o groats

I am wondering if I would have more fun on walking routes such as west highland way (never done it) or st cuthberts way (have done it)

I would also like to have a good explore around England, take a look at places Ive heard about but never visited like Penzance/Dover/Cornwall or Brighton or York . Not sure why !   
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: JohnR on April 12, 2021, 10:11:13 PM
There's a good selection of maps and guide books at https://shop.sustrans.org.uk/ and there's a national cycle network layer on the OS Maps website https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk .

If you want to do a LEJOG then there are people who have got it all planned for you. I'm booked on the leisurely LEJOG in July https://www.bikeadventures.co.uk/bike-tours/road-cycling-lands-end-to-john-o-groats/ but there are various other options to suit individual aspirations.
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: ourclarioncall on April 12, 2021, 11:44:32 PM
Wow, that looks cool, just had a look.

So your looking at about 50 miles per day in the longest trip and about 100 on the quick one (9 days)

I think Id be lucky if my wife let me away for 9 days and leave her with 5 kids 😆

If I double up and do 200 per day il get back by the weekend haha, maybe she will say yes
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: Matt2matt2002 on April 13, 2021, 06:47:34 AM
What if you get half way and don't like it?
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: PH on April 13, 2021, 09:13:37 AM
Lands End <> John o'Groats is a fantastic challenge ride, the whole country in one ride, can be many things, and a badge of honour.  But IMO it isn't the best of tours unless you have many weeks to do it.  I did it in 11 days + 2 for traveling, not race pace, but nothing like enough time to explore either.  Some parts were not ideal cycling, we went East of the Pennines to avoid the urban riding, though it adds a little mileage.  Cornwall was a real disappointment, high hedges on all the lanes, so relentless climbing but no views! I'm not dismissing it, it'd be on my wish list if I hadn't done it, but neither would I recommend it as the best British tour.
Most of my touring has been self planned, which is easier now we have so much choice of online mapping, I use cycle.travel.  If I choose what looks like a nice route, it'll often turn out to be a part of the NCN anyway and I've done a fair few of those routes.  Two I'd happily recommend to everyone are the Lon Las Cymru, which goes the length of Wales and the Pennine Cycleway from the English Midlands to the Scottish border.  Both very hilly, but rewarded with fantastic views mile after mile.
Not wishing to be controversial, but this sort of cycling doesn't require an exceptional expedition bike.  First time I did the LLC it was on a 300 hybrid and a decade later when I did it with a larger group, we had a variety of bikes from racers to MTB's, they were all fine.
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: JohnR on April 13, 2021, 04:16:41 PM
So your looking at about 50 miles per day in the longest trip and about 100 on the quick one (9 days)
I reckon the worst days will be getting through Cornwall and Devon due to the amount of ups and downs. I would like some tailwind assistance both when crossing Dartmoor and for the last two days in northern Scotland where I've been by car and know that there's very little sheleter from the wind.

Not wishing to be controversial, but this sort of cycling doesn't require an exceptional expedition bike.  First time I did the LLC it was on a 300 hybrid and a decade later when I did it with a larger group, we had a variety of bikes from racers to MTB's, they were all fine.
I was booked to do the LEJOG last year when it was cancelled due to circumstances and would have ridden a hybrid, albeit one with a Rohloff hub. I then spent the money on my Mercury which would let me do the ride in greater comfort - aging bodies become more sensitive to the rough surfaces.
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: ourclarioncall on April 13, 2021, 07:33:55 PM
I know John o groats well as a lot of my family are from there. My uncle works on ferry from groats to Orkney. Relations of mine owned the first shop/garage on your left as you hit groats. Got an aunti in Orkney. Uncle in wick , well he is moved now. I havent been up for many many years so it would be fun to cycle it. Used to go up every summer. One time my mate was doing an electric job and we jumped in the van with him from near Aberdeen. My granny had a house in groats near the beach and we were supposed to be able to get in , but when we got there it was locked. Luckily there was a small (cold !) caravan that was open so we slept in there. After the job we left groats and headed home , but car broke down ! A guy had to come from Aberdeen area to tow us home. But I got some divine guidance while sitting waiting for hours when I read a book about a hells angel type that got converted. I actually think that breakdown was for my benefit . God works in mysterious ways sometimes. Good memories 🙂
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: ourclarioncall on April 13, 2021, 08:40:53 PM
PH

I think Id like to do lejog at least once but I suspect i would enjoy something like Lon Las Cymru you mentioned better.

Id like to cycle but also stop and explore , in and out of towns and villages , pop into art galleries and museums , go see Stonehenge , sleep in a cave , just  a mix of stuff rather than a race or strict lets get from A to B asap.

I like the sound of the Camino in north Spain , stuff like that. Would love to head into Europe. U.K. kind of all looks the same after a while 😁 In summer its beautiful tho. Just would like to see a blue sky and hear foreign accents for a change
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: JohnR on April 13, 2021, 08:48:40 PM
I found it useful to check the experience of others eg https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bell-Bike-LEJOG-Dave/dp/1496179463 , https://helenlangridge.com/lejog/category/LEJOG and https://www.rohan.co.uk/explore/78-hours-in-the-saddle after which I settled for an easy option. If I find it too easy then I can raise the bar. ::) This https://www.bikeadventures.co.uk/product/ultimate-lands-end-to-john-ogroats-2021/? uses a different route apart from the last two days.

Your first challenge is to find some local circuits that are fairly pleasant cycling. I found a chunk of my 43 mile circuit on one of the Sustrans maps and a planned extension of that will include another Sustrans route.

I'd like to do some cycling in New Zealand where they have some excellent cycle tracks but doubt if I could justify the trip to the domestic management. However, I've just bought a Birdy which will fit into a large suitcase so perhaps that's the first step. People do less challenging tours with those bikes.
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: ourclarioncall on June 30, 2021, 01:16:29 AM
There's a good selection of maps and guide books at https://shop.sustrans.org.uk/ and there's a national cycle network layer on the OS Maps website https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk .

If you want to do a LEJOG then there are people who have got it all planned for you. I'm booked on the leisurely LEJOG in July https://www.bikeadventures.co.uk/bike-tours/road-cycling-lands-end-to-john-o-groats/ but there are various other options to suit individual aspirations.

Hows things,

Are you still doing the LEJOG in July ?
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: Rouleur834 on June 30, 2021, 10:09:55 AM
Take a look at Komoot. It's a route planning app that can be used as GPS. There are hundreds of tried and tested routes on there. You might find something useful in one of the many collections. I have attached a screenshot of one. Round the World in 80 Days, Mark Beaumont, is on there if you feel adventurous  :)

Best

Ray
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: JohnR on June 30, 2021, 01:47:57 PM
Hows things,

Are you still doing the LEJOG in July ?
Yes: My Mercury is on the way to the start and I follow it on Friday by train ready to start cycling on Saturday.
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: ourclarioncall on June 30, 2021, 04:12:38 PM
Hows things,

Are you still doing the LEJOG in July ?
Yes: My Mercury is on the way to the start and I follow it on Friday by train ready to start cycling on Saturday.

Excellent 🙂

Look forward to hearing how you get on
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: JohnR on August 01, 2021, 10:12:22 PM
Look forward to hearing how you get on
My update is long overdue as I got home eight days ago. The LEJOG was this https://www.bikeadventures.co.uk/product/lands-end-to-john-ogroats-21-days-2021/ with 20 days cycling and a support van to carry the baggage. Overall, we were lucky with the weather with only one substantially wet day and no extreme temperatures. However, there were several days when there was a moderate breeze in the wrong direction which made progress more tiring.

While the average daily miles is just over 50, the distance ranged between 41 and 64 miles to suit the accommodation. Days 2 and 3 were probably the most tiring with too many steep, but usually short, hills to go up followed by similarly steep descents which gave the brakes plenty of exercise but the presence of bends / villages / oncoming vehicles eliminated the potential to use momentum to get halfway up the next hill. However, the route over Dartmoor itself was OK with a long but fairly gradual climbing and opportunity to cruise downhill. The organisers reckon that if people can get to Bristol then, barring mishap, they can complete the ride. The route is designed to avoid busy roads as much as possible but the side effect is the steeper hills.

The 16 participants used a range of bikes. Some were lightweight carbon fibre machines, a few were simple hybrids and there was one fairly old Ridgeback tourer (which had been fitted with new gears at more cost than the orginal bike) plus my Mercury which was the only bike with hub gears (and i was the only person wearing sandals).

Once my body had got adjusted (I thought I was quite fit but it's difficult to prepare for the incessant steep little hills) then the ride became quite pleasurable with more time spent in brief stops to enjoy the view. The Mercury behaved itself although the front wheel has acquired a slight warp which I suspect may have happened when I failed to avoid an abnormally large pothole. I wait to see if I can fix the warp by adjusting the spoke tensions but the tyre (50mm Marathon Almotion) and rim are undamaged.

Overall, the Mercury is overbuilt for such light touring (one rack bag - some folk carried everything the wanted in their pockets - but I'm a belt + braces person with two tubes and a selection of tools). Two of the three water bottles were full at the start of each day although I rarely drank more than one. The third bottle was empty but available on the bike in case of hot weather. In theory, weight hardly matters https://www.cyclingabout.com/why-we-should-stop-our-obsession-with-bike-and-gear-weight/ .

The ride was well organised. We were given gpx files and route sheets with turn-by-turn instructions but those who tried to rely on the latter often had navigational problems. Almost all the participants were retired. The younger (and probably fitter) folk with less time on their hands tend to do the 9 or 14 day LEJOGs. I did consider the 14 day ride but decided that a longer day with unfavourable weather would be very challenging. Hindsight confirms I made the right decision.
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: PH on August 03, 2021, 08:33:47 PM
Congratulations John, both on completing the iconic E2E and for getting away for a reasonable time this year, something that looks increasingly unlikely I'll manage.
Quote
The organisers reckon that if people can get to Bristol then, barring mishap, they can complete the ride.
It's for that reason I started at the other end!  I figured if it hurts there'd be a big difference between having another 100 or 900 miles to go, in the mind as much as anything.
Quote
In theory, weight hardly matters
I wish I could find someone to tour with who subscribed to that theory, I'd gladly let them take my luggage!  I haven't clicked the link, I don't need to, the only way to reach such a conclusion is to disregard acceleration. Yes, bobbing along on the flat and an extra 5kg won't be noticed, but every time you slow or stop, any extra weight requires a proportional increase in energy to get it back up to speed, whether you notice it or not...
Sorry I digress, congrats again.
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: JohnR on August 03, 2021, 10:45:28 PM
I wish I could find someone to tour with who subscribed to that theory, I'd gladly let them take my luggage!  I haven't clicked the link, I don't need to, the only way to reach such a conclusion is to disregard acceleration. Yes, bobbing along on the flat and an extra 5kg won't be noticed, but every time you slow or stop, any extra weight requires a proportional increase in energy to get it back up to speed, whether you notice it or not...
That why I said "In theory" as I'm not convinced by that theory. It clearly requires extra effort to get more weight up a hill which might not matter much if that effort is rewarded by cruising downhill and then half way up the next one (on open roads I found those with lighter bikes seemed to go down hills more slowly than my Mercury). However, where going down requires generous use of brakes then all that effort is wasted. That said, I'm struggling to think of what I could leave off my Mercury in order to shed weight. I could take a chance with lighter tyres and remove the frame lock as the bike isn't left unattended.

I took a close look at the front wheel today and the cause of the warp was quickly identified: One broken nipple. I was surprised how much deformation resulted from this. The bike came with some spare spokes and nipples so I used one of those for the repair and have got the wheel back into acceptable shape (my tolerance about 1/2mm) using eyeball and a 6" ruler taped to the forks.
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: Danneaux on August 04, 2021, 04:10:40 AM
Quote
I took a close look at the front wheel today and the cause of the warp was quickly identified: One broken nipple.
John,

Have you seen this recent thread?
http://thorncyclesforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=14193.msg105825#msg105825

Best,

Dan.
Title: Re: UK Tour planning
Post by: JohnR on August 04, 2021, 08:41:48 AM
Quote
I took a close look at the front wheel today and the cause of the warp was quickly identified: One broken nipple.
John,

Have you seen this recent thread?
http://thorncyclesforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=14193.msg105825#msg105825
Thanks for reminding me. I had read that at the time but had forgotten about it. I'll continue with this topic in that thread.