There is no set time of year to plan a cycling holiday – cycling is an activity which can be enjoyed all year round, as most avid cyclists will attest to. However, cycling in a different environment is always more interesting, making the trip more exciting and enjoyable. There are numerous other benefits to cycling holidays – being away from home allows participants to forget about life’s daily distractions and focus on pedalling and exploring, as well as enjoying some time to relax in a new destination.
The longest and undeniably one of the most iconic routes in the UK, as well as one of its most challenging – tackling the Land’s End to John O’Groats cycling tour (LEJOG) involves careful planning and preparation.
The trip can vary in length, depending on the pace of the tour, however it typically ranges from approximately 10 days up to anything around 30 days for those wishing to take it at a more leisurely pace.
The famous Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) describes a transversal route from the South-Western tip of mainland England in Cornwall, all the way up to the North-Eastern tip of John O’Groats in Scotland.
The route was traditionally considered a walking challenge but has now become one of the most well established and iconic cycling challenges in the world. A classic, yet extremely tough challenge which often takes months to prepare for.
Since the previous entry, the team have been crossing the Appalachian Mountain range from Kentucky to Virginia, before crossing over briefly into West Virginia and then back into Virginia again. The Appalachian Mountains are a great highland system of North America – the eastern counterpart of the Rocky Mountains and although not as widely known, not to be underestimated. The Appalachian range extends for almost 2000 miles, stretching from Canada all the way to central Alabama in the US, forming a natural barrier between the Eastern coastal plain and the interior lowlands of the US.
Over the past few days the team have travelled 300 odd miles across the Ozarks in Missouri – a mountain range spread across the states of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Within the Ozarks there are 2 distinct mountain ranges, the St. Francois Mountains of Missouri and the Boston Mountains of Arkansas. The region is a popular tourist destination with numerous parks offering canoeing, horse riding, rafting, hiking, fishing etc. Crossing the Ozarks was challenging and although climbs were usually only a few hundred yards (half a mile maximum), the gradients were extremely sharp, up to 15% with seldom more than 1 mile in between them – one such day consisted of over 80 miles with 5500ft of climbing.
After a tough day battling the elements – an unforgiving headwind which seem to hit the team head on whichever way they turned, followed by a torrential downpour to finish the day off, the team arrived in Chanute Kansas. The town was named after the famous railroad civil engineer and aviation pioneer Octave Chanute, a mentor for Wright brothers, Wilbur and Orville. Chanute is known for a number of attractions of historical significance including the Chanute Wright Brothers memorial.
Heading out of Fairplay, Colorado the crew had been looking forward to some speedy downhill stints, the fun however was dampened by a number of short uphill sections, making the day surprisingly hard going.
Following a well deserved rest day, the crew faced two uneven days of riding due to an issue with the hotel accommodation. The original plan had been to ride 45 miles on the first day and then 100 miles on the following – the change in plan however, meant that this turned into 25 miles on one day and then a whopping 120 miles on the next day. This was too much to handle for some of the crew and a cunning plan was hatched which would allow the crew to cycle 45 miles, then pick up a Hertz rental car to take them back to the hotel and forward again the following morning – this plan, although somewhat complicated was doable, until however, the crew arrived at the Hertz depot (the only car rental firm in town) to find a sign saying it had closed 6 weeks ago! Hertz for their part, offered no explanation as to why nobody was notified to say there was a problem with the reservation. Luck was with the team though, and they managed to find a suitable car to hire for the day.
The promise of the National Parks was getting ever closer as the team rode from Dillon to Ennis – Dillon is another small town located in the South West of Montana, also a hub for activity and adventure in the local area. The journey consisted of 67 miles of steady uphill climbing to a pass and then whizzing down the other side into town. The highlights of the day entailed passing through 2 extremely well-preserved gold mining towns – Nevada City and Virginia City, both towns are living historical museums and very interesting places to visit, even if they were crawling with tourists.
The team is now 700 + miles away from the Pacific Coast, well into the US interior where many of the locals they come across have travelled little further than the neighbouring state, and show very little awareness regarding what’s going on in the outside world. Following the rest day in Grangeville, the team pedalled out through extensive golden cornfields, before heading into the Nez Perce Indian Reserve – the reservation today consists of around 750,000 acres of which tribe members own approximately 13%.