Posts Tagged ‘Garmin etrex Vista HCx’

Epilogue: Final Thoughts…

March 6, 2011

Apologies for the delay, dear reader…I’ve got no real excuse other than these things always do have a habit of taking longer than perhaps you plan them to, hey?

Anyway, my final thoughts on the trip? I don’t think that a LEJOG is a hard journey per se; it is, after all, simply a case of getting on your bike and pedalling yourself from A to B daily! My training certainly wasn’t anywhere near the sort of distance or volume that is recommended as necessary to undertake this challenge; I only completed two rides of over one hundred miles before setting off!

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy doing it, though. I’ve seen an extremely thin slice of this country in a way that very few people can say they have and there’s moments I recall fondly now and hopefully will do for many more months and years to come.

Having never blogged before, I’m really glad that I decided to start doing so on WordPress for this journey. I’d hazard a guess that I spent two to three hours a night doing so, but people that were following have told me that they appreciated it and it has also given me something special to look back on, and provided me with the content to produce this book!

I’m pleased with all of my kit decisions bar the Carradice! I never once felt like I didn’t have enough, or that I’d carried too much with me. My Garmin HCx may well have taken a bit of ‘magic’ out of the navigation of each day, but certainly made the whole process less stressful. I’d perhaps go as far to recommend one to anybody attempting a similar journey ahead of anything else.

I was surprised to see how much I spent over the twelve days although, to be fair, around a third of the total money that went through my hands was on bike repairs that nobody could have honestly foreseen. Certainly not the rack for my bag failing on Day Two! Otherwise I think that I got reasonable value for money for everything else considering.

Splitting my overnight stops between B&Bs, hotels and hostels may well have added extra cost to my journey, but I think it was worth it overall. Perhaps if I had a support vehicle or others with me then camping would have added to the adventure but I think the way I approached it was best for a solo attempt.

On that note, I have been asked by many people why I chose to do my LEJOG solo and unsupported, and also if I was lonely on the way?

First of all I decided to undertake the trip on my own as, whilst I was confident I could complete the distance, I wasn’t sure of my own abilities on the bike and didn’t want to be the one slowing a group down. Having now completed it, and read other encounters I don’t think I would have done but I don’t regret doing it alone at all. It’s a hell of a party story if nothing else!

I can honestly say that the only time I felt alone was as I realised I was the only sober individual amongst a bustling Princes Street in Edinburgh on Day Eight. As I wandered along that street all I wanted to be was back home. On reflection, a Saturday night stopover in a big city after the previous few days probably wasn’t the best choice!

In conclusion, did I enjoy the trip? Yes, without a doubt. It’s made me appreciate the island on which we live in ways I certainly didn’t before. It’s certainly opened my eyes as to how beautiful parts of it can be, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s gone end-to-end that looks on as the map scrolls behind the television weatherman without thinking ‘bloody hell…I’ve cycled that!’.

Would I do it again? No, probably not. Certainly not in that direction anyway, and probably not solo if I was to go from top to bottom. That trip’s been done, it’s onto the next challenge now I’m afraid.

What’s next? You’ll just have to wait and see…

‘Super’ Cally goes ballistic, now staying in Loch Ness…

April 25, 2010

…apologies, couldn’t resist that headline!

Well, after re-visiting the inital route plan I’ve had to make some changes to it – mainly to make sure I’m ending each day in a spot with reasonable facilities and accommodation, but also to level out some of the imbalances of a short day followed by an abnormally long one.

The main changes are…

– a shorter first day and a stop now in St. Agnes rather than Newquay. This means my second day is longer, but I think it’ll be better to ease myself in rather than tire myself out on day one!

– a detour via Padstow on day two on the advice of someone who recommends Rick Stein’s fish and chips. Miss that opportunity at lunchtime?! I don’t think so!

– a stop off in Morecambe as opposed to Lancaster to get a chance to go and see that statue and compare Mr. Stein’s efforts to some ‘proper’ seaside fish and chips!

– rather than go for a silly long day on day ten and end in Inverness, I’m now stopping at the Loch Ness SYHA. It looks like an excellent stop and also means I’m not doing the day of over one hundred miles until my penultimate journey; in theory that should be a bit better…

So…that’s that planned (and available to see in daily chunks on The Plan page). I am going to prepare some ‘prompt cards’ with a turn-by-turn listing and also a slimmed down version of the map for the day so that should the GPS fail for whatever reason I’m not going to just be left to guesswork.

Otherwise it’s all ready to go onto the Garmin Vista HCx. That’ll take a little while, but once that’s in I’m as prepared as I can be in regards to the route…

London to Posh…bosh!

April 5, 2010

Woo-hoo…one hundred and eighteen miles. Easily my longest ride EVER!

With a previous ‘personal best’ of forty seven and a half miles (which was recorded less than a month ago) it’s fair to say it was an ambitious target but, on Easter Sunday, I headed back from London to my parents’ house in Peterborough using a route made up of back roads. Some thoughts on the day…

I found a route on the Cyclist’s Touring Club‘s route list that got me halfway (London to Sandy), and concocted the second half having found myself a nice open source mash-up of all the National Cycle Network (NCN).

Most of the journey was okay but parts of the NCN are, in all honesty, an absolute joke! There were points where I was bouncing my way for miles along a rut made from cars passing through a field and other parts would not be out of place on the Paris to Roubaix route. It was certainly an experience…

I probably couldn’t have asked for better conditions. A light shower as I set off in the early hours, but this soon disappeared and I had a mix of sunshine and clouds to accompany my journey. Whilst it wasn’t ‘warm’ warm it wasn’t particularly cold either, although the North / North Westerly headwind certainly made the day harder than perhaps it could have been!

I was a little concerned about bonking (no, not that…it’s the cycling equivalent of ‘hitting the wall’) and probably had a bit too much food and drink on the way because of this but I’d much rather over-compensate and make it over a distance I’d never tackled before. Anyway, I got through…

1x Soreen Malt Loaf (Buttered)
1x Tuna/Sweetcorn sandwich
1x KitKat Chunky
1x Mars Bar
1x Nutri-Grain; Apple
2x Mule Bars; Summer Pudding (these were probably unneccesary with <10 miles to go!)

1x Lucozade Sport (500ml)
1x Coca-Cola (500ml)
2x Water (500ml)

Phew! I left the house at 07.40 and got through the front door at my parent’s place at around 18.45…yep, it was a long old day overall, but ultimately satisfying. It was certainly a nice feeling pulling onto the last road knowing where I’d started from.

Quite pleased to have got through it without too many niggles. My left leg felt a little ‘dead’ the next day and my back was aching like anything before getting a night’s sleep – I have a bike fitting due this week however, so it’s probably a good thing to have something to tell them before they set up the bike to my ideal.

Overall I’m so glad I’ve done it. I’d mentioned it during the week to a couple of people and they doubted me so it’s good to show I can see through my plans – bodes well for the trip at the end of May anyway!

I was amazed at how quiet the majority of the route was (even though it was back roads), and quite how far you can go without seeing anybody or signs of civilisation. Better planning would have reminded me that it was Easter Sunday so the majority of shops would be shut, but it was still interesting to see the distance you can go between any significant settlements.

Final thought of the day: the Garmin etrex Vista HCx is an absolute gem of a gadget! Yes, bikeroutetoaster has a habit of crashing and losing a route…but if you save regularly, then convert it using GPSbabel you’ve got a pretty much fool-proof navigation system. Now just need to remember to re-name routepoints to something useful (Lxxxx or Rxxxx to signal left or right instead of the generic RPxxxx would be a start!) and I’ll be well on my way.

Apologies if I have rambled at all…I’m still pretty excited by it all and wanted to get bits down whilst they’re fresh in the mind. Next weekend I’ve got my first Sportive planned. The Essex Roads’ Spring Lambs event no less. One hundred and fifty kilometres. Bring. It. On!

March-ing on…

March 28, 2010

…so it’s only two months to go now, and progress is being made both on and off the bike.

Another steady month of cycling with more or less the same mileage recorded. I think it’s important for me to get used to staying consistent, it’s days of steady cycling that’s going to get me through the challenge rather than lots of effort over shorter distances.

I do need to step up the mileage I’m covering on a day and, with that in mind,  I’ve got a plan in place for the Easter Weekend (hopefully a full report to follow next week!) and I’ve also booked myself into the Essex Lambs’ Spring Lambs Sportive – a 93 mile loop around Essex – to try and get some quicker miles under my belt.

I’ve plotted out an initial route that I’m going to look at in more detail over the coming weeks, but it looks like a challenging but achievable one. There’s certainly going to be long days, but I’m also going to be taking in some nice sights over the twelve days which, as I’ve mentioned before, I think is important rather than simply going head-down and as fast as possible!

Rather than rely on paper maps alone I’ve bought myself a portable GPS. The Garmin etrex Vista HCx is designed for walkers primarily, but does fit onto the handlebars and offers an opportunity to pre-load your route and alert you as to when you’ve gone wrong. I’m getting to grips with it at the moment. As with all new ‘toys’, there’s a learning curve to get over and features to try and decipher but…once I’ve got through all of that I think it’s going to prove invaluable.

Finally…I know you’re itching to see the numbers for March? Okay. Eyes down, look in…

Mileage for Week (w/e 21st March) – 81 miles
Mileage for Week (w/e 28th March) – 18 miles

Mileage for March – 406 miles