Tandem Ride: John O'Groats - Land's End

This summer, Hugo and I cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End. For fun. And fun it was, most of the time.

My friend Alice asked how it all went, and these were the first thoughts that came to mind:

  • This trip was a challenge on many levels. We had to be properly in sync. Constantly. If we had an argument or weren’t mentally there, it just didn’t feel right at all to be pedalling together.

  • We mostly wild camped which I didn’t expect to be so easy in the UK. Prime spots included a lay-by and the grounds of some leisure centre.

  • It put time in perspective. If a car can do a journey in an hour, it would probably take us an entire day. It involved plenty of coffee stops though.

  • I was blown away by my body’s resilience (and my mind too). Especially putting up with bum aches and leg pain amongst other things. I’m almost considering taking up running (which i majorly dislike) to see just how much I can push it. [Later edit: I did NOT take up running]

  • Big cravings for doughnuts and Hula Hoops for the entirety of the trip. And carbs, lots of carbs. Beans on beans on beans on toast. Mmmm. On that note, we ordered pizza whilst on the outskirts of Wolverhampton one evening. Waited outside some random person’s house for 45 minutes until the delivery man turned up. No address, no problem!

  • I thought that being on the back of a tandem meant I’d be able to take lots of photos as we cycled along, but it was scary handling the camera whilst not holding on to the handlebars. Plus, by the time my brain registered an interesting shot, we’d already cycled 1 mile past it.

  • I was on the back the entire time. We trialled it the other way round, but Hugo developed control issues and actively tried to steer whilst on the back. It wasn’t fun.

  • As a result, when we returned and I tried to ride my own bike, my brain erased the ‘how to steer a bike’ file. It took about half an hour to readjust. In the meantime, I rode straight into the kerb and almost face first into a bush. That wasn’t fun either.

  • Keen to do a big touring trip again soon. On an entirely different saddle. The pain is real.

  • Couldn’t ask for a better travel companion. Hugo, thank you for the moral support, beans on toast, excellent steering, remarkable tent/pannier packing skills, sing-along duets, endless pick-me-up hugs and high fives.