American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation?

Specific board for this popular undertaking.
tbessie
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Joined: 10 May 2014, 3:27am

American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation?

Postby tbessie » 8 Mar 2016, 2:14am

Hi all...

I'm in San Francisco, and want to do the LEJOG. Originally I had wanted to do coast-to-coast in the US (as this is the 20th anniversary of the time I did it as part of a fundraiser), but don't have the 3 months to spare; I figured I could spare 1 month and do this one. I'm planning maybe a 3 week trip for the ride itself, to do it nice and relaxed.

One problem I have is that of equipment; I have all I need here, but don't feel that great about taking my $5000 Bruce Gordon touring bike as baggage on United (I have heard people tell of the TSA not closing shipping boxes properly and bikes falling out, or baggage handlers dropping them 15 feet to the tarmac, etc), even though with the flight I can have it as baggage for free. Also, I never really enjoyed the hassle of taking the bike partly apart and back together again twice (not a huge hassle, I admit, but annoying).

So I'm trying to decide between bringing my trusty Bruce Gordon (in a well-made bike box), hiring a bike in the UK, or buying a bike (new or used) in the UK. My step-sister lives in the Southeast, so if I bought a bike there, I could leave it with her for future trips, which is nice.

Right now, for new bikes in the UK, I was thinking of either a Thorn Club Tour Mk4 (around £1800 (probably not including VAT)), a Surly Disc Trucker (somewhat less than that), or perhaps something quite cheap (Dawes or Ridgeback). The Thorns look nice, and are built in the UK (tho' I think this model's frame is likely made in China).

Or I could do a lot of searching to find a used bike. Or find a company that would hire me a relatively decent touring bike (I hear that most have Dawes-level bikes for such hiring).

I *do* plan to do more European tours in the future (my dad lives in France, and I bought a hybrid and left it at his house for lightweight credit-card touring, and have used it a few times there, but I would like to have a fully-loaded tourer available to me), so buying and keeping one there might be a good option.

So - what would YOU do in my situation? Any suggestions? I basically don't want a clunker of a bike, but don't need something super-high-end either.

The other issue I'm thinking about is accommodation - I'm thinking of mostly camping along the way to save money, with a few B&B/hotel stays as well. If I wanted to camp every night along the way, is there a decent amount of availability along the route? Places with showers and such? I'm planning on starting the trip sometime in the last week or two of May.

If you've read this far, thanks! Let me know if you have any suggestions for my questions!

- Tim

Norman H
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby Norman H » 8 Mar 2016, 8:03am

It sounds like buying a bike and keeping it with your sister would be the ideal solution. The SH route looks a little uncertain. Good SH tourers are a specialist market and you could waste valuable time looking unless you bought a bike sight unseen, so to speak, before you travelled. The LHT would be ideal as it would be easy for you to check out fit etc. from your side of the Atlantic. Thorns are very nice bikes but in my view a little overpriced for a Taiwanese frame. Another idea would be to buy a bike in the US and get it shipped to your sister beforehand.

No shortage of campsites along the route and wild camping is legal in Scotland. Almost all campsites will have showers as a minimum. Check out this site. There are also some excellent hostels and no shortage of B&B's. Many of the hostels offer private rooms with en suite bathrooms. Just ask for suggestions on the forum when you have your route more finalised.

I did a 20 day LEJOG in 2010 also in late May. We took a scenic route (1200miles) and the spring flowers were at their best. Enjoy.

TheRedEyeJedi
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby TheRedEyeJedi » 8 Mar 2016, 8:16am

On the bike recommendation front.... I have a genesis equilibrium disc 20 which I love, and use for fast group rides and light touring. I will also be using it for my second lejog this year.

But one of our group has just purchased the touring version..... its very, very nice for the money imo. Comes with racks, guards and a dynamo front light, brookes saddle, good steel frame, triple front ring (handy in Devon and Cormwall) ..great bike for the money and ideal for a month tour of Britain.

https://www.evanscycles.com/genesis-equ ... wwod5hQF_g

If you want a really cheap option...the Raleigh Sojourn is nice bike too

Personally I am not a camper! I prefer the second cheapest option which is using our budget brand of hotels - Travelodge. If you are alone though you can find some fantastic bed and breakfast deals in independent B&B's or hostels... Take a look on trip advisor to find the best ones for each place you want to stay and then filter for the best value option.

Travelodge can be had for £30 a night (no breakfast)
good b&b can be anything from £25-£100 per night.
For solo lejog and more....http://claridgecyclingtocurecancer.com

MGate
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby MGate » 9 Mar 2016, 9:58am

I've got a Thorn Audax in about 21 - 22 inch (never measured it) that you can borrow for the summer - Its a triple with downtube shifters and is my 'winter' bike. Good mile muncher - If it fits you are welcome.

irc
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby irc » 9 Mar 2016, 10:51am

Have a look at the Spa Steel Tourer. Around £1000. Well reviewed. I have one and rate it as highly as my Long Haul; Trucker. Not as nice as Bruce Gordon but will more than cope with a LeJog.

http://www.spacycles.co.uk/info/SteelTourerCycle.pdf

For accommodation - Travelodges do good deals booked well in advance and are widely spread in the UK. Plenty camp sites but perhaps best to decide a rough route first then ask for recommendations.

Chat Noir
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby Chat Noir » 9 Mar 2016, 2:27pm

Sitting looking out of window on to non-stop rain makes me envious of you in San Francisco, although when I visited SF last November I recall heavy rainfall while peering out over the bay to Alcatraz.

Youth Hostels offer reasonable value accommodation and are distributed all over the UK. Last year during an ETE I spent 6 nights in YHAs ( http://www.yha.org.uk ) at an average cost of £27 per night. Not cheap, but most will provide meals as well if you want. Opportunity to meet and talk with others, can be great on a solo ride. There are also private hostels in various places and bunkhouses: the one in Dalwhinnie charged £15 a night, excellent value. Camping is generally available in most places but you do need to plan, especially in May (before the summer season), and other options include B&B, Warmshowers, and cheaper hotels – others have suggested the well known companies, the earlier you book the better the rate, generally. As already said, plan your route then find the accommodation.

Youth hostels don’t suit everyone and some recent threads about why not. My own ‘favourite’ story goes back to the early 1990s and Ravenstor in the Peak District. We’d just finished the washing up for us and our three children when an elderly man came to the sink, removed his false teeth and used the washing up brush to clean them. We watched in stunned silence.

In terms of bikes I would find it hard to do such an iconic ride and not use a favoured bike. If you have a good bike box bring your own bike.

Enjoy the ride. May is a beautiful month but can be cooler than you expect.
Dawes Galaxy 1979; Mercian 531 1982; Peugeot 753 1987; Peugeot 531 Pro 1988; Peugeot 653 1990; Bob Jackson 731 OS 1992; Gazelle 731 OS Exception 1996; Dolan Dedacciai 2004; Trek 8000 MTB 2011; Focus Izalco Pro 2012

tbessie
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby tbessie » 9 Mar 2016, 8:47pm

MGate wrote:I've got a Thorn Audax in about 21 - 22 inch (never measured it) that you can borrow for the summer - Its a triple with downtube shifters and is my 'winter' bike. Good mile muncher - If it fits you are welcome.


Well that's exceedingly kind of you! If I end up not buying one, I may contact you about that. It's unlikely, but I really thank you for your kind offer! :-)

- Tim

tbessie
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby tbessie » 9 Mar 2016, 8:49pm

Thanks for all of the great comments, folks! I like how many knowledgeable people this forum has on it!

After a lot of thinking, I am contemplating buying a Long Haul Trucker and having a local shop put S&S couplers on it, so that 1) I don't have to pay VAT for a bike bought in the UK (so it'd be cheaper), and 2) I can take it on a plane without having to pay extra fees (I thought my "free bag" for my flight would pay for it, but they (United) require a smaller box than a full-sized bike would fit in), and 3) I can bring it back with me just as easily.

I may buy racks for it in the UK, and just leave the racks there, so I don't have to fit a bike-with-racks in a case; but this option seems the best to me.

- Tim

tbessie
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby tbessie » 9 Mar 2016, 8:54pm

Chat Noir wrote:Sitting looking out of window on to non-stop rain makes me envious of you in San Francisco, although when I visited SF last November I recall heavy rainfall while peering out over the bay to Alcatraz.


Ha! Well, it's been raining pretty hard this week and also a few weeks ago; El Niño has brought some good storms here, thank goodness, giving us respite from the VERY long drought California (and the rest of the western US) has been suffering through. So rain = good right now. :-)

Thanks for your other suggestions for camping, hotels etc. I probably should create a full route soon and start making arrangements with them, in case some of them might be booked up.

I lived in a youth hostel in Boston, Massachusetts, for about 7 months once, and have stayed in them a lot in the past. But that was when I was 21-27 or so. Soon to be 52, and not sure I would enjoy quite as much the party atmosphere nor all the people snoring in a dorm room. ;-)

In terms of bikes I would find it hard to do such an iconic ride and not use a favoured bike. If you have a good bike box bring your own bike.


Yes, I agree 100%; but I would rather bring something easier to carry around and perhaps not quite as loved in case it's mishandled. If I didn't mind carrying around a bigger box or bike, and the extra cost, I'd probably get one of the high-end full-sized bike cases and use that.

Enjoy the ride. May is a beautiful month but can be cooler than you expect.


Yeah, I like May, especially in France - I've done a couple of tours in southern France, both in late summer, and got searing heat and huge thunderstorms for days, so I had wanted to do one in May to get a bit cooler weather. Though that probably makes more sense in southern France than in the UK. I'll be starting around May 20, so it'll hopefully be starting to warm up a bit.

- Tim

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RickH
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby RickH » 9 Mar 2016, 10:02pm

Your post reminded me that it is also 20 years ago that I did a nearly coast-to-coast US ride, also as a fundraiser. We did San Francisco to Atlanta on a self-planned route & had a week at the Olympics at the end after the ride.

My advice on bikes would be make sure you're riding something you are happy with (whether you bring it or not). You might even think about buying yourself something in the US to bring & leave. If you opt for something bought over here, remember that a UK supplied bike will almost certainly come in a right hand lever/front brake configuration.

And make sure you have low enough gears. Paul Smith (who frequents these parts) wrote in a blog of his LEJOG about Devon & Cornwall (link).
We seemed to spend 75miles either going down a 1 in 4 or up one, I had two speeds, 4 or 40mph - nothing in between.

That may be a slight exaggeration but, I think he (& me, as we both did it with the same company) rode one of the hillier routes. If you choose the quieter lanes they tend to be the hillier ones, often cutting across steep sided valleys (& usually with a narrow bridge over a river and a sharp bend at or near the bottom to stop you carrying momentum from the down into the up!). Don't let that put you off though, just be prepared for British hills, they tend to be steep but not usually toooooo long, nothing like the long but steady gradient of many big mountain roads.

Rick.

tbessie
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby tbessie » 9 Mar 2016, 11:47pm

RickH wrote:...

And make sure you have low enough gears. Paul Smith (who frequents these parts) wrote in a blog of his LEJOG about Devon & Cornwall (link).
We seemed to spend 75miles either going down a 1 in 4 or up one, I had two speeds, 4 or 40mph - nothing in between.

That may be a slight exaggeration but, I think he (& me, as we both did it with the same company) rode one of the hillier routes. If you choose the quieter lanes they tend to be the hillier ones, often cutting across steep sided valleys (& usually with a narrow bridge over a river and a sharp bend at or near the bottom to stop you carrying momentum from the down into the up!). Don't let that put you off though, just be prepared for British hills, they tend to be steep but not usually toooooo long, nothing like the long but steady gradient of many big mountain roads.


When I've toured in France (not as long as the LEJOG, but maybe half that in a week), I've generally picked a start and end point (or the same place if a circular route) and picked the towns I planned on staying at each night, and created a generalized route on a paper map, and then sort of picked out my route by the compass (and by steepness markings on the map) as I went along. This occasionally led me to places that were no longer passable (I used Google maps a few times for routing, and once it put me at a "Do Not Enter : Private Property" sign where a gravel road led on into the woods; and another when it took me along a hard-pack Roman road; don't know why it thought those were better than pavement...), but in general France was extremely good to me as far as finding many alternate ways to go to the same place, with very good signage.

Do you find the the UK is similar? Eg, on a route like this:

map1.jpg


I found many crossroads with a zillion signs in every direction, like this (not a great example, but you get the idea):

route.jpg

Vorpal
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby Vorpal » 10 Mar 2016, 6:55am

I have to admit that if I had the spare change, I'd go for a Thorn, but the Spa bikes could be something to consider, too.

There are a few others with smaller workshops, too.

http://www.hewittcycles.co.uk/bikes-2/c ... hewitt-127
http://geoffsmithcycles.co.uk/ who builds up touring bikes on the same frames as Paul Hewitt

Of course, they're almost the wrong end to start from, but you could do a JoGLE, instead :)

There's also the (somewhat pricey) Oxford Bike Works.

I have to admit that I havne't flown across the Atlantic with a bike recently, but I've not ever had any problems flying with bikes. I can understand not wanting to risk a $5000 bike with airport baggage handlers and TSA, though. And it seems a good solution to keep a bike with someone in the UK. One of my uncles, who lived in California did that for years.

When I have wanted accomodation in the UK, I have tended to use hostels, but Mr. V doesn't like them, so our trips together have been B&B ones. We've come across some great little B&Bs with nice extra touches like fresh eggs and home grown veg for breakfast and packed lunches. With careful research beforehand, we've had very few duds, and most of those have been pubs. My favorites have all been farm B&Bs. There's plenty of camping, and wild camping is feasible in many places, including the whole of Scotland. Wild camping in England, discretion is recommended. It's kind of a grey area of the law. If you are interested in wild camping, there are a number of threads on this forum.

viewtopic.php?f=42&t=100843&p=977909 and viewtopic.php?f=42&t=94572 have information about the legality (and maybe a few tips, as well) :shock: :lol:
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

LollyKat
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby LollyKat » 10 Mar 2016, 10:25am

Vorpal wrote:... wild camping is feasible in many places, including the whole of Scotland.

Camping in Scotland at the end of May could be pretty cold - be prepared.

MGate
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby MGate » 10 Mar 2016, 2:17pm

Hi Tim,

check out https://www.warmshowers.org too. We've had some interesting visitors and made some friends.

Bike - no worries. Thorn Audax has a rear rack. Be in contact if things don't work out and you need a bike in a hurry. SF - nice, stayed in Berkeley for a few months many years ago...

puffin
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Re: American wants to do LEJOG - equipment and accommodation

Postby puffin » 11 Mar 2016, 6:11pm

If you're going in May I can lend you a Dawes Vantage (I'm 5ft 11) or at a push my 1990's Galaxy. We live about 20 miles from Oxford so not near either start line. The Vantage has done LEJOG once and the Galaxy three times so they are broken in.