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How to cycle the length of Britain: Diary of an Intern

How to cycle the Length of Britain!cycle

I believe the best way to see Britain is on a bike! So that’s what I did….

I and 5 others decided to tackle one of the great British endurance challenges, cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats. It is said to be a distance of 874 miles, however for some reason we managed to make it last just over 1000 miles!

One of the common questions we were asked was ‘why are you doing this?’ Also a question a few of us asked ourselves! Some key reasons were highlighted:

  1. To challenge ourselves
  2. To have something to train/aim for
  3. Fitness
  4. As a holiday from work!?
  5. For charity (Diabetes UK, Headway, Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s society)


We were all aware that this challenge would require a bit of training, considering none of us were regular cyclists!

I aimed to cycle one long ride a week and get out on the bike 2 or 3 other times a week for shorter rides. This doesn’t seem much but with work commitments and hockey I will admit I struggled to achieve this in the first few weeks.

However having an end goal in sight motivated me to train! I think goals/targets are something all athletes should set themselves.

After a very cold winter, postponing our training, we managed to get on the bikes by the end of January.

  • Weeks 1-4 consisted of 20-30 mile cycles on flat and hilly routes.
  • Weeks 5-8 we upped the mileage to 30-40 miles but stuck to flatter routes for the longer rides
  • Weeks 9-12 more consistently riding 40-50 miles including big hills
  • Weeks 12-16 the mileage was upped to 55-70 miles
  • During weeks 9-16 I was also strength training, focusing on:

o       Deadlift

o       Back squat

o       Front Squat

o       Lunges

The Actual Ride

The training definitely made pedalling up those hills a lot more bearable. Although there was some sore legs and very sore bums, everyone was fit enough to complete the challenge. A full blog of our adventures can be found at www.lejogmay2011.blogspot.com.

Nutrition and hydration

Burning approx 500 calories an hour for 5-6 hours a day meant energy intake was essential. On average we needed to consume between 4500 and 5500 kcal a day. I used carbohydrate drinks during the day with full meals in the evenings, trying to include some protein for muscle recovery overnight!

It is advised to drink approx 150ml for every 15-20min of exercise – so approx 3 liters during the ride with 1-2 liters before and after. I’m not convinced I managed to drink anywhere near that amount, good job I wasn’t racing!

Final Trip Statistics

  • Average Daily Distance: 73 miles
  • Total distance: 1007 miles
  • Average Speed: 12.5 mph
  • Time spent in the saddle: 79 hrs 29 mins
  • Estimated calories burnt: 39,750 Kcal
  • Total money raised: approx £700 for Diabetes (approx £4000 combined)

I really enjoyed the experience as a whole although some windy days were a struggle! It was nice to train for something other than hockey, my normal sport, and to challenge myself. I fully recommend it to anyone who likes the idea of putting their body through its paces.

Comments welcome, be good to hear from anyone else who has done this?

Fran Low

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