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Road Cycling Holidays

Cycling Holidays UK

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Riding the iconic UK Land’s End to John O’Groats

 

LEJOG end to end cycle map

Cycling holidays – Land’s End to John O’Groats

 

Nothing… tips the balance against the enjoyment of a cycling tour through England today. Immediacy of contact with all the country sights and sounds, with the oddities and endless beauties of by-road village, the placidity or weekly bustle of unsophisticated market town…”

So wrote Frederick Alderson (England by Bicycle) in 1974. What was true of cycling holidays in 1974, remains true of cycling holidays today – if you know where to ride! Indeed, if you know which routes to take it is possible to cycle from Land’s End in Cornwall to John O’Groats at the northern tip of Scotland (the iconic UK ‘End to End’ ride) mainly on quiet roads, while taking in some of the most scenic countryside in the UK.

And the English countryside is truly scenic – gently rolling hills, verdant fields and hedgerows, foreboding mountains, tranquil lochs, thatched cottages, shifting patterns of light and colour, ancient pubs, the list goes on! Even the weather (at the right times of the year!) lends itself to the perfect cycling holiday, being rarely too hot or too cold. In short, a tour through the UK, particularly by bike, should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Bike Adventures has been running ‘End to End’ (also know as the LEJOG) cycle tours for 14 years. We have helped hundreds of  people to realise their dream of cycling the UK from top to bottom. To be clear, riding the ‘End to End’ in 2 weeks is a significant challenge but with our expert support it is something our clients nearly always achieve, and never forget.

Our latest route runs from Land’s End, along the north Cornish coast, across the wilds of Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor, and up through the famous Cheddar Gorge. We cross the magnificent bridge over the River Severn and continue north through the lovely rolling countryside of Herefordshire and Shropshire. We then head through the beautiful countryside of northern England, passing through the Yorkshire Dales and the Eden Valley in Cumbria. After crossing the Scottish border we continue across the Southern Uplands to Glasgow, passing through the centre of the city on local cycle paths. We then enter the wilds of northern Scotland, passing close to Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, and along the shore of Loch Ness on the way to the small settlement of John O’Groats.

Our clients have the option to choose a fully supported tour, with expert guides, vehicle support, accommodation, and luggage transportation; or an independent tour where we will plot the route, provide ‘turn by turn’ directions and pre-book all your accommodation. These wonderful tours can also be completed in a variety of times (from a very challenging 9 days, to a very relaxed 21 days) and, indeed, in the reverse direction.

 

Gangster Trippin

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Geoff enjoying the hospitality before flying home

From the boat looking at the skyline in San Diego

San Diego harbour fun in the sun

It is now Saturday and the trip is at an end. Customers have been despatched (or have they been dispatched? Never sure which is which) to shops, hotels or airports and the dynamic duo are wasting time in San Diego before the flight home. I have promised Geoff that he can go to Hooters this afternoon – I thought I had better submit this entry now to avoid the temptation of including the photos!
 
This was my second longest ride at 1650 miles and pretty fantastic miles they were too. Apart from one day of rain we had generally good to superb weather, very few headwinds, and probably almost 20 days of clear blue skies.
 
Thanks to the exercise I think I have managed negate the calorie intake but the same cannot be said for Geoff who is taking home a pretty large memento from the trip – about a stone of lard. He says it will all go before next summer but we will see. If next year’s PCH trip runs he will do the sweep riding so he better sign up with weightwatchers.
 
 
 

Barbara Ann

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An empty street in Santa Barbara, spotted during a cycling trip through America.
Palm tree against a clear blue sky
Beach in Santa Barbara on a sunny day
Geoff holding a sign reading 'Homies please help' during the cycling trip through America.

‎Forgive me father for it is 3 days since my last confession. In summary….southern California

After a magnificent steak in Solvang (Geoff went for the 18oz which was even more magnificent) ‎we headed back to the coast over a sodding great hill in the blistering heat to arrive at Santa Barbara which, in my book, is the start of SoCal. This part of the trip is all about a very different typ‎e of Merica with astonishing wealth, cheek by jowl with countless homeless people.

We have ridden the beach paths through Santa Barbara and past LA, passed the Malibu mansions and crossed Orange County (the OC) where, in one town there were car dealerships for: McClaren, Ferrari, Maserati, Bentley and TWO for Porsche.

We are now in San Clemente and just a day away from the Mexican border.

 

Food Glorious Food

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Large American portion of a rack of ribs for dinner

Little Debbie's Cherry Pie

Entrance to Brewing Company in Solvang

Last night I disgraced myself. We went to a Western themed restaurant and I was guilty of ‘eyes bigger than stomach’ syndrome. In my defence I wasn’t really expecting the complimentary beef stew starter (a meal in itself) or the complimentary salad (another me‎al) or the fact that the ribs were not from a pig as promised but from a woolly mammoth.

I left more than I ate :-(.

American Pie

I would like to introduce you to the most advanced sports food on the planet – the Little Debbie’s ‘fruit’ pie (don’t worry – no fruit is harmed in the making of   little beauties!). They come in red, green and yellow (these colours have fruits associated with them but, again, I’m pretty sure there is absolutely no fruit involved – the ‘fruit’ filling is basically just a sort of lube to assist with swallowing). For $1.29 you get a pie about the size of a pack of cards that contains…….420 calories. Two of these and a bucket of Coke and you have a whole day’s intake for about 5 bucks. Even NASA has nothing to compare.

Identity

For the last 3 weeks Geoff has been busily checking into a hotel each night using my credit card. Usually this goes without a hitch but sometimes they ask for photo ID. This isn’t a problem because Geoff also has my driving licence. At no point has anyone checked the photo of my beautiful visage with his ugly mug. God bless America.

Tonight we are in Solvang – a little bit of Denmark in the California dessert.

Always The Sun

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Halloween scarecrow competition

Multiple scarecrows for Halloween scarecrow competition

Long stretch of empty American road with the sun shining.

Palm trees against a blue, cloudless sky. The sun is out.

When I checked the forecast this morning for San Simeon (our hotel on the coast) it said highs of 25c.‎ I then checked the forecast for San Luis Obisbo (our lunch stop but 10 miles inland) it said highs of 38c. Surely a mistake ‎I thought. Actually NO. As you head inland the temperature rises by about 1 degree C per mile.  
 
In the morning we passed through a Halloween scarecrow competition but the rest of the day was unexciting after yesterday’s thrills, just scrub and a searing sun.  
 

Today was a peasy 57 miles and we were all done by 2pm, time to laze in the sun and talk bollocks.  ‎We are in Arrayo Grande, a couple of hundred miles north of LA. Tonight we are heading to a ‘western style’ restaurant. So basically hot dead cow.

 

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

Simply the Best

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Beautiful shot of a bay in slight shadow.

Open road along the coast in San Francisco, perfect for riding along.

A bay and rolling hills in America

A secluded bay spotted whilst riding through San Francisco

A cyclist riding along the coast in San Francisco

‎Although this is my first time riding the whole route I have ridden the stretch from SF before, with Nobby some 7 years ago. On that ride the Big Sur stretch was a bit of a trial – thanks to a cock-up on the daily mileage estimate a day that should have been a testing 110 miles ended up as a ball-breaking 130.  
 
So today’s 94 miles should have been a walk in the park……but it wasn’t. It was hilly (as in chuffing) and hot (90’s)‎. Having said this………I was magnificent. Actually I was just adequate but that IS pretty magnificent these days. We were all done by 3:45 and never has a jump in the pool and a cold beer been more welcome.
 
Big Sur IS stunning! If you don’t have a Mustang then a bike is a pretty cool second choice if transport.
 
Off to find a head-sized steak now.
 
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

Drive

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London Bridge Pub spotted whilst riding the 17 Mile Drive.

A harbour spotted whilst riding the 17 mile drive.

Two seals sunbathing in the sun.

A seal relaxing near the dock. Spotted during a tour of the 17 Mile Drive

A bit of an odd day today…..our first for some time without any encounter with the emergency services.
 
We had a laughably short day because of a problem with availability of our target hotel. On this bit of coast (Big Sur) accommodation at sensible prices is hard to find so we have had to stop short by 25 miles. This gave us less than 30 today but will require, gulp, 94 tomorrow. To make matters worse they will be hilly. Bigger gulp.
 
We left Marina for the short cycle path ride to Monteray where we wasted time on the wharf watching sea lions and pelicants before riding ’17 Mile Drive’ to Carel. This scenic route follows the headland from Monteray to Carmel past Pebble Beach golf course and some of the most gob-smacking real estate you could imagine. ‘That’s a big hotel’ said one of the group. ‘Yes it is’ I replied, ‘but it is actually a p‎rivate house’.  
 
With the combination of perfect weather, spectacular views and outrageous wealth it is one of the coolest 17 miles you can ride bar none.
 
We are now in Carmel where Clint Eastwood was once mayor. It is swanky and VERY expensive but quite fun.With such a short day we were done by lunchtime and we are wasting the afternoon by the pool. Although quite relaxed I ‎can’t help the occasional worry about how 94 hilly miles in 100 degrees is going to feel. Final gulp.
 
 
 
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

Surfin Bird

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Sights spotted during a cycling holiday: whales and dolphins play in the sea.

Taking in the sights of people playing on the beach in the sunshine.

Geoff standing in front of the sea.

Geoff walking out of the sea in America

Today’ PS – don’t worry, nothing is on fire, just enjoying the sights!
 
We popped down to the beach to watch the whales and dolphins (of which there were lots) – not photos of them but a few more ‘general smugness’ shots.
 
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

The Best Of The Police

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Sign reads 'Free Breakfast 4 Cyclists'

The police take down details when a cyclist is knocked by a passing car.

A Highway Patrol car, the American police

A very hot day in America.

‎….or the continuing adventures with Merica’s Emergency Services.

Fire

It seems that the hotel was not actually on fire. I hope you will understand and forgive my false assumption when I tell you that, as we sat on our balcony, there arrived not one but TWO fire engines, an ambulance and the Sheriff. So what ‎triggered the arrival of every vehicle equipped with flashing lights in a 50 mile radius? Unexploded bomb? Nope. Terrorist cell? Not even close.
 
A bloke who had cycled to the bar had fallen off in the car park. He didn’t actually even appear hurt but, having turned out, every bloke in a uniform want‎ed a crack at him and he was taken off on a trolley under protest.

The Bike Song

Today is national Ride To Work day in Merica. Well, all except one old (and possibly pissed) old lady for whom it was Try And Kill A Cyclist day. She swerved across the road a couple of times before clipping one our riders and knocking her off. Here we go again…..Hello 911?…..yes it is me again, we need some more help…..no, not the helicopter this time, just the police.
 
A California Highway Patrolman was soon on-scene, though disappointingly it wasn’t Erik Estrada (is he dead?). Our rider was OK – a few cuts and bruises and very badly shaken – but, again, the cop took our situation very seriously, filled out lots of forms and promised to shoot the old lady should they happen to find her.‎ Having taken a peak in the patrol car he was remarkably well equipped for shooting old ladies with LOTS of very big guns!

Hotter Than July

Yes, technically an album title ‎but who gives a rats?
 
Today the temperature hit 109…..that is almost 43 in Roman Catholic! It was hot! If the great plains are the breadbasket of the US then we are riding through the salad bowl and vegetable drawer. Today we passed the artichoke capital of the world….impressed huh? We are now in Marina and ready to start our assault on Big Sur.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.