It seemed that everyone in my dorm was biking Lands End to John O'Groats (LeJog as it was being called). The floor was a car crash of bike panniers and kit, the talk was generally focused on equipment and how long it would take. With everyone else in a rush I had a more casual air knowing that I had to wait for Duncan and Hugh to arrive by train, even so I judged that our plan cut some days off the average time being discussed. After an all you can eat fried breakfast I finally retrieved my bike from the shed, all the others had departed at this point, and called Hugh to try and entice him up the hill for a coffee while we waited for Duncan. He almost fell for this blatant attempt to tire him out a little but in the end he stayed by the station being warmed by his second latte of the morning.
Getting myself down to the station to meet Hugh was easy, sit on the bike and let gravity do the work. While waiting for Duncan we went to a bike shop to pick up some bits of kit we had overlooked. Hugh picked up some waterproof over boots to replace his neoprene versions, meaning that before we had even started we already had kit to post home - almost a record even for us. Shortly after this initial faff Duncan stepped off the train and then ensued the traditional parade of bike where we all commented on the merits of each others steed while quietly celebrating any small edge ours might give us. Once the cooing died down I think it was generally agreed that Duncan's carbon fibre enhanced road bike was the lightest, Hugh's flat handle bar touring bike was the best compromise between efficiency and comfort and Colin's converted mountain bike with five quid front forks was just the ticket for a different trip entirely - perhaps the off road version of the route.
With excuses to start fading away we thought we'd better get going. To prove that procrastination should feature on our CV's such is the level we take it to Duncan had not turned the cranks three times before declaring he had to stop for a quick stop. Muttering darkly that at this rate it could be a long trip we set off, confidently following Hugh along a slightly 'interesting' route to Lands End. This took in the coastal path to Mousehole and then some, if we are being generous, good warm up hills.
For those who have never been to Lands End it's an odd place. Obviously proud of it's location there's a small knot of tourist shops and attractions. Good for pasties but less so for quiet contemplation of the view. In addition there is, of course, the signpost. Around the signpost is a number of notices stressing that this is not a public sign post and hence you would have to pay to have your photo taken next to it with your choice of location being displayed. More sobering than the indication that 874 miles lay between us and John O'Groats were the plaques to those who had died trying to bike the journey, a reminder that exhaustion wasn't the only risk.
With this in mind we finally pointed our bikes in the right direction, took note of the generous back wind and started to pedal towards the A30. While rolling north east we all had plenty of time to ponder the trip ahead. I used most of my time contemplating how inadequate lunch had felt and when we would stop for another nibble, Penzance perhaps? Maybe Hayle? No such luck, Duncan and Hugh eventually pulled up when the road ahead was closed to cycles some 30 miles later. Trying to explain that at this rate we would only be stopping twice a day - a ratio I conidered dismal considering the fuel stops available to us. After all did we not have a duty in these financially troubled times to spread our money around a little? Thankfully we agreed to find sustanance in Redruth a few miles away and on our detour path.
Redruth, a well known town in a tourist county - surely our choice of coffee shop would be legion right? Wrong! Having passed through the centre we spotted nothing and had stopped on the far side looking a bit perplexed when we saw that we were standing next to an artists shop which had a sign that their 'coffee area' had just opened. While we and the owners wondered if we would be welcome in this relatively posh shop we locked the bikes and chanced our arm. Hugh strode in and asked where the coffee area was located which threw the lady a little, it was in fact where we were standing as she indicated by the two chairs and a small table tucked in the corner. Obviously this has never been their major source of trade. She liberated another chair from those she was trying to sell to seat Duncan and we ordered. Duncan and Hugh were tempted by the home made cake in the window and this turned out to be a good choice when they received a quarter of a cake each with tea in china cups. Pleased with our find we discovered that the refreshment part of the business was only a couple of days old, and if it becomes popular might bankrupt them given the prices. Still we made hay before making tracks.
The rest of the ride was easy with some perfect downhill - gentle and lasting for ages - and soon we were standing at a roundabout in Bodmin wondering where our beds were. In fact they were around the corner hidden in a pub whose owners took a liberal attitude to maintenance and the comfort of their guests. Firstly we were greeted by a hound which was halfway to looking at us eyeball to eyeball. Luckily it seemed unreasonably scared of Lycra clad moving food sticks so we had no trouble. I'll be generous and say that our rooms were functional but to be honest there were a few niggles, the grill missing from the fan which made Hugh wince every time I stepped past it with no shoes on, enough items plugged into a single socket to make any fireman shake his head and the half cleaned basin to make your mother tut. No matter we cleaned up and headed downstairs to look at the food menu. Only to be told that the kitchen was 'broken'. Not unreasonably we asked about the chance of breakfast coming out of a broken kitchen in the morning and after a confused pause were assured that this would be no problem. Even Dr Watson might deduce that the 'broken' element was their enthusiasm. Still after a little search we found some good food in a nice pub and had some time to discuss the downside of late booking and choosing your location based on 'do they have any room at all?'. This was forced home to us when we got back and found that a band had been thoughtfully set up just under our rooms so that anyone struggling to sleep would at least have 100db of music vibrating through the room to entertain them.