Officially a Guinness World Record

Guinness World Records show in their online database that our record of 6d 8h 43m is their currently accepted record for LEJOG.  Woop!

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Certificates from LEJOG Association

Our certificates from the Lands End to John o Groats Association of our completion of the journey in the time claimed.

Roger Davies certificateSam Wakeling certificate

Click the pictures for larger images.

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Photos

There is a gallery of photos which Paul took during the ride on Flickr.

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New record! 6d 8h43m

End to end by unicycle in 6 days, 8 hours and 43 minutes. Job done!

Our last day was stunningly beatiful.  We were on the road by 4.45am, and plodded up the deserted A9 out of Inverness and over the Black Isle.  We spotted Venus and Mars as the first streaks of dawn appeared on our right in the east.

There was a gentle tail-wind helping us along for most of the day which made it faster and more enjoyable than most of the previous days.  Most of the road was gentle and undulating and ideal for spinning along, eating up the miles.

There were a few stiff climbs during the day though, including the infamous Berridale Braes (below).  The signs warning drivers to ‘Keep in low gear’ were heeded by Sam but not Roger, who had better braking abilities and descended in high gear.

Roger storming the Berridale Braes

Roger storming the Berridale Braes

The last section seemed to drag out a bit, with the ‘last hill’ never quite where we expected it to be.  Even a local roadie cyclist whom we met out of Wick said there were just two hills to go.  There were about 4 or 5, including the last one which, at 80 meters is the size of Penglais Hill in Aberystwyth.

But finally we could see the delapidated splendour of the famous John o’Groats Hotel down on the coast in front, and we rolled down the hill, past the ‘John o’Groats’ road sign and up to the finish.

Two tired but happy unicyclists at John o'Groats

Two tired but happy unicyclists at John o'Groats

We will be writing up the whole trip as an article for Uni – The Unicycle Magazine,  which will include more of Paul’s awesome photos and annecdotes from along the way.  I’ll put a bit more up on this blog too though, but I still need to catch up on some sleep!

We had some amazingly good weather – not a spot of rain and tail-wind on the last day when we needed it; we had no significant mechanical problems (even Roger’s tired borrowed hub lasted out); the navigation stayed on course for 99% of the miles (just an 11 mile error); and even without much time to practice riding on the machines we used, our bodies and joints all survived (just). Paul managed to avoid strangling us, despite minimal detailed planning and erratic behaviour on the part of a couple of often lethargic unicyclists.

So, achieving this time was hard, very hard. But we were also not as well prepared as we might have been, and got lucky…  it is certainly not unbeatable with better training and planning.  So, who’s up for it next?

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Day 6 – Kinross to Inverness

We weren’t really sure what to expect from this day, but it turned out to have some of the nicest riding of the week. Perth proved quite easy to get through and we were out on the open road – the A9 – by 9am. From then on it was just a case of following the road north. It was pretty hectic earlier on, but the traffic ebbed and flowed during the day, definitely getting lighter and nicer later on.

A highlight of the whole trip had to be getting a multi-tone air horn blast from a truck going the other way!

We were almost finished within the last of the fast-failing day light, and had a good meal of pasta and bolognaise (more pasta!) with my parents before getting down for the last haul tomorrow.  Alarms set for 4am…

Roger and Sam cruising up the A9

Roger and Sam cruising up the A9

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Day 5 – Carlisle to Kinross

A slow, painful start before our legs warmed up, but the A7 was lovely to ride on. Little traffic and great views.

We hit Edinburgh at rush hour, which meant we took hours getting through (and Edinburgh Council’s idea of a marked cycle route, which is provided to help cyclists get around the city as they prohibit them from the ring-road, is a rather here-and-there affair. ).

Forth Bridge at sunset was stunning though.

Sam on the Forth Road Bridge

Sam on the Forth Road Bridge

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Day 4 Warrington to Carlisle

We did it. Can’t remember a lot – will put some details in another day.

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Day 3 – Bristol to Warrington

Or Bristol to Warrington, via hell and back. We’ve finished today’s ride, which was already planned to be the longest of the days, after 18 hours and 156 miles. Here’s the stats.

We set off before dawn across the old Severn Bridge, and made it to Monmouth. A man on a home-made electric bike stopped to talk, and when we said how many days our End to End plan was he simply gaped for a good 10-15 seconds.

Then we managed to take the wrong road out of Monmouth and storm five miles in the wrong direction down the A40 before we realised (and got a call from Paul). Not a good addition to a 145 mile day.

We also met some rollercoaster hills before Hereford, after which we resolved to stick to large roads – they are safer even if busier as the traffic has more time to see you and more space to get by. Eventually we did find the flatter sections I’d hoped for, but started racing the clock as Warrington was still an awefully long way off. We started our final 100 miles at almost 1pm, after fixing Roger’s deflating tyre (turned out to be a loose valve core). Riding in the dark from Whitchurch was very pleasant and the road was super-smooth and almost deserted.

Steve Colligan joined us by bike from Tarporley, and we limped in to the center of a dead Warrington, getting the the motel by almost midnight. A quick recovery carb and protein shake and pork pie for dinner, and alarms are set for a later start tomorrow – 6am.

I should add that I (Sam) am writing this sitting in a chair with an ice pack in my lower back – thanks Steve for bringing it along.

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Day 2 – Oakhampton to Bristol

A long, long day today. We were off at 0635 in the dark, and pottered through the misty, dawn light over rolling pastoral Devon hills. But quite a lot of hills. Our average speed was well down, and the GPS data shows altitude total for the day said 5000m. It tends to over-read by perhaps 25%, but even so it was jolly up and down.

Bristol traffic was pretty thick, with lots of holiday weekend cars and caravans, so we changed roads a bit to try to avoid them. Eventually we made it to the Severn bank and charged the last 10km up to the old bridge where the motel is just as it was getting dark.

Total hours: 13.5. Average riding speed: 11.7mph.

Time for Burger King dinner.

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Day 1 – Lands End to Oakhampton

Sam and Roger starting at Land's End

Sam and Roger starting at Land's End

The first day has been a success! We started off from the Land’s End hotel start line at 0905 and made steady progress through Cornwall’s rolling hills.

Once we were onto the main A30 trunk road it was largely dual carriageway – which despite being quite loud was good for cycling as it is wide for cars to pass with plenty of space, a small shoulder to ride on our of the main flow of traffic, and no sharp corners or steep hills.

Sam and Roger in Cornwall

Sam and Roger in Cornwall

We stopped and met Paul with the van about every 25km, and had food and water for 10 minutes. We also had a couple of pasta stops with two longer breaks. We were getting to grips with the Schlumpf riding style, learning to shift down early for hills rather than grind up in high gear at the same speed that low gear could go.

Finishing Day 1 in Oakhampton

Finishing Day 1 in Oakhampton


We finally turned off the A30 which we had been on all day and had a couple of quiet country miles in to Oakhampton town, finishing 7.25pm – 10 hours and 20 minutes to complete 97.4 miles, with a riding average of 12.5pmh. That was a little lower than it felt, as it included many long drags up a total of around 2000m of hills! Our full GPS data of distance, speed and elevation is uploaded, and is fun to play with.

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