879 miles and 83 hours on a folding bike: London cyclist completes Lands End to John O'Groats on a Brompton
James Stannard completed 1,415 kilometre route on folding Brompton bike without support
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UK cyclist James Stannard has completed the iconic Land’s End to John O’Groats (LeJog) ride on a folding modified Brompton P-Line bike.
On Sunday 17 July, Standard set off at 1.00am from Land’s End in Cornwall to begin the 879 mile adventure. He arrived in John O’Groats, Scotland at midday on Thursday 21 July completing the ride in 83 hours. Remarkably, the Londoner was unsupported for his entire journey and his time is believed to be the fastest unsupported time on record.
When he isn’t carrying out epic bike packing trips, Stannard heads up Brompton's research and insight department. His main aim of the challenge was to highlight the versatility of the famous folding bikes and to raise awareness of just what 16 inch wheels are capable of!
He said: “LeJog is a bit of a rite of passage if you’re a cyclist in the UK, I’ve always planned on doing it. Once it became a possibility, I thought right, I'm doing this on a Brompton and if there is a record out there, I’ll have a crack at that as well.”
Prior to setting out on his journey, Stannard had previously taken part in the Transcontinental race in 2016. He told Cycling Weekly that the record UK temperatures recorded during the week of the ride weren't going to get in his way, despite receiving messages from family and friends urging him to reconsider.
He added: “Once I’d sorted the train down to Penzance the heat started coming in, but I thought no, once you’re in it, you’re in it and I’d just packed some big bottles. It was tricky, and on that third day of the ride [when temperatures in Scotland reached over 35°C] I was so dehydrated I basically looked like a corpse! I was completely trashed and ended up having a nap on a bench!”
Stannard joked that after biblical thunderstorms, extreme heat and dehydration, he could get a good book out of his adventure, one to even rival Homer’s Odyssey.
“One of my friends asked me about the scale of it all, like did I ever think about how far I was going in a day? It was a really good question. When you're doing it though your world just becomes really small and you’re just thinking about the next 500 metres, or whatever you can see on your Wahoo. It’s weird, you end a day thinking wow I was in Cornwall this morning and now I’m in Worcestershire or wherever. It’s pretty crazy.”
He explained that the magnitude of his journey only began to really hit home on the journey back to London. Stannard was left frustrated with public transport on the return journey and nearly considered getting back on his bike.
“When it really hit home just what I’d achieved was when I got the train back to London from John O’Groats. It took me 21 hours to get back, 21 hours! I’d cycled half the country in that time! That was the worst,” he said.
Looking back over his adventure, Stannard hopes that his story will inspire others to ride Le Jog in a similar way.
“I just want to encourage people to have a go at the ride, and maybe even on a Brompton folding bike too. Coming over the Highlands on those North Coast 500 roads [a 500-mile route popular with motorists] really was amazing. Although when you get under 100 km to go, it’s almost like floating on air a bit! When I was getting towards the end, I had to complete it with a little sprint finish. My uncle had ridden up on his motorbike to meet me there, it was so cool, just a complete feeling of elation to get there.”
Meanwhile, the same feeling of elation wasn’t to be for Christina Murray. The long distance time trial rider had been hoping to set a new fastest ever time for the famous route. Sadly, Murray’s adventure ended at Dornoch Bridge in Scotland when she climbed off the bike after being beaten by cold and wet weather.
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Tom is a News and Features Writer at Cycling Weekly, and previously worked in communications at Oxford Brookes University. Alongside his day job, prior to starting with the team, he wrote a variety of different pieces as a contributor to a cycling website, Casquettes and Bidons, which included interviews with up and coming British riders.
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