In January 2013, Ben headed out on his bike with Natalia and Paulo on the 1,500km ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats. They chose to do it in winter because of the extra challenge and to prepare themselves for harder journeys in the future. The ride did not dissapoint.
The winter LEJOG
This was the first big cycling test that we faced as we looked to prepare themselves for our dreams. We were accompanied by Paulo for about half the journey, but his knee gave problems and he had to withdraw half way through, leaving myself and Natalia to continue by our selves.
Winters in the UK can be tough and stormy, and in thinking about the challenges of any polar expedition, we wanted the journey to be tough, but as we had only limited touring experience, something that wasn’t too tough. Landing in London from Brazil and the temperature was noticeably and visibly different from the Sao Paulo summer, with a heavy frost on the ground as we went out to make the final preparations.
After getting the train to Penzance and staying there the night, we faced incredibly strong head winds as we set out on the long ride, and rain pretty much all day. We only arrived at our destination, near Bodmin (around 100km from the start) after dark. Cycling along the busy main roads in those conditions at night was not so enjoyable. Then when we went off the main road on to a dark country lane, with our lights offering only very little help, we were very relieved to get to our destination with a family we had met through Warm Showers.
From there on, however, we made steady progress up north, passing through places like Exeter, Taunton, Timsbury, Worcester, Manchester and Lancaster–where I used to live–before their final city in England, Carlisle. The weather actually held up and, in England at least, we never experienced anything nearly as bad as what we had on that first day.
While it was winter, and you’d expect things to be miserable, it was actually a really enjoyable journey – there’s a different type of beauty in winter and it was nice seeing the places where I had grown up and gone on holiday.