Prof David Wyper, former SINAPSE Director, has completed a sponsored cycle from Lands’ End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) to raise funds for research into the treatment of brain conditions. He has written the following report of his 10-day journey “for those who sponsored me – or others who might.” The donation site remains open at https://mydonate.bt.com/events/brain/469724
I decided to do this to raise funds for research into brain conditions. The Neurosciences Foundation supports research into a range of disorders. It has a very diligent peer review process to ensure that the money is well spent, and it needs all the money it can get. One generous benefactor would make a huge difference, but smaller contributions add up and are just as important.
Perhaps another reason for choosing LEJOG was the bucket list factor. Time is getting on. I chose to join an organised group rather than back-packing. I went with Peak Tours, and would give them *****. There were 27 in the group. What I hadn’t expected was that almost all were serious club cyclists. I’d been training for distance, but these guys were fast, and you don’t want to drop behind. Much is made of the reduced wind resistance in the peloton. In this week’s New Scientist there’s an article reporting that in the middle of the peloton the wind drag is only 5% of that at the front. However, in our case, having company was perhaps more important than wind drag. We were averaging around 100 miles a day, and that’s a long way if you’re lonely. So, I went a wee bit faster than I’d have liked. Day 4 was 109 miles, but fortunately the first part was on quiet roads, and a very interesting conversation got me through the first 40 miles without really noticing them.
The route headed east along quiet roads in Cornwall and Devon, before heading north over the Severn Bridge into Wales, and then along the Wye valley and up to the Lakes. Once in Scotland we spent a night at Moffat, then over the Forth Road Bridge , up to Perth, then Braemar, Grantown on Spey, Lairg, and finally John O’Groats. On most days we had amazing views at some stage, but Dartmoor, Kirkstone Pass in the Lakes, the Grampians, and Sutherland were particularly memorable. Some of these views came at a price. We thought that Kirkstone Pass was close to the limit, before we hit Glenshee and the Lecht, which is a 20% incline rising to 25% in places. Although it was lung busting, I didn’t mind the hills too much as my skinny physique gave me an advantage over the big power merchants.
It felt very strange when we reached John O’Groats. In had expected to be out on my feet and just so glad it was over, but by day ten I was starting to get into it. If I’d been as fit at the beginning as at the end it would all have been more enjoyable, but perhaps that’s the nature of the beast. You need the company and the challenge to drag you through, and gradually you get fitter.
I know some of you have already done LEJOG. Some others might be thinking about it. If you are, that means that you have to do it – sometime. You need to have the time, but I think all apart from two in our group were still working. We even had participants from Sydney and Edmonton who came over specially to do it. It is high on the bucket list for those on the exercise spectrum.
I think my lasting memory won’t be of the pain, or the scenery, but of the 26 fellow cyclists. It’s a great way to meet people.
Thanks to all who donated, and if you’ve read bits of SPIN I’d love to get feedback. Don’t hold back!