Bikexplore - Bike tours and expeditions near and far for all abilities by experienced tour leaders
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Where am I going in 2021?


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Land's End to John O'Groats

Moving on, supported

 

This is a 19 night/20 day Land's End to John O'Groats (LEJoG) trip, using mostly good quality hotels and a very scenic route which avoids the busy urban conurbation around Manchester by cutting into the Derbyshire Peak District and then the Yorkshire Dales. The route is hilly and not for beginners - if you are a beginner try one of our shorter UK tours first. (There is no flat route from LE to JoG!) but the rewards are the many glorious views and interesting bits of history. We take it at a steady pace, averaging about 65 miles a day with a support vehicle and one rest day. In 2021, depending on circumstances, this may be run in September.

My experience and style

What to expect


Who am I?

I'm an ex-marine engineer who was lucky to work all over the world in a more leisurely age when companies communicated by sending a plain white postcard saying 'Phone head office.' Whereupon I would discover I'd been booked on a flight halfway round the world with a helicopter laid on at the other end to take me out to a ship or rig. I was once paid to wait six weeks in Japan for a ship to arrive and was lent a bicycle by a tug master - a great adventure for a young man. I later worked for a wonderfully eccentric Saudi company where I was the only native English speaker in a staff of 80. I started doing long solo cycle tours in 1984 and got into organising and leading tours in 2002. I own a variety of bikes but don't ride as much as I used to, due to arthritic wear and tear. However, I still enjoy managing tours and the associated problem solving. I've ridden in about fifty countries and also like the area of France around Mount Ventoux as well as Southern Thailand.

My tour leading style

Tour regulars who think they know me like to say I have a relaxed way of leading but generally I don't really relax until a tour is finished and everybody is on their way home. I like to know a lot about the areas I visit as you never know when it might come in useful. I've being doing LE-JoG for 11 years, going to France for forty years and Thailand for twenty years, partly because I like being on familiar ground. I believe in reconnoitering just before a tour even if I've been there before. In Thailand and France I look for changes of any sort and stay on good terms with the local police and officials. Being on first name terms with the locals never hurts and can be enormously useful if a problem arises. Like most of the Bikexplore tour leaders I'm happy with people riding at their own pace and provide maps or GPS routes.Iin Thailand we also have some very enthusiastic Thai guides. The more observant will notice that my tours often include a short ride on a boat or ferry and sometimes a train ride (I like boats and trains...).

The roads I take

I prefer mostly smooth tarmac and only very short excursions onto the 'rough stuff'. I'm proud that my LE to JoG route mostly avoids main roads and is designed to avoid traffic wherever possible. Participants will tell you they went all the way on country lanes which is not quite true - but we try!

The tiny back roads in Thailand are generally very good, being mostly smooth tarmac due to work done in the 90s when the economy was booming. Thai drivers are not perfect but they do generally treat cyclists with respect (cycling as a hobby is currently popular with Thai people of all classes). France, as you would sort of expect in the home of Le Tour, has wonderful country roads with smooth tarmac, little traffic and mostly gentle gradients, although the final 5km or 3 miles of Mount Ventoux's ascents are famously steep.

The places we stay

I prefer good quality en suite hotels or, occasionally, motels and that is generally what I aim for, though obviously sometimes I have to compromise to get a hotel that will take a group with bicycles. Fortunately most hotels these days have seen the light and value cyclists as good customers. I do offer some single occupancy (one person per room) on my tours but it can be expensive as some hotels try to discourage it; they make a large part of their profits from food and drinks. On my tours the price includes most of the breakfasts and evening meals where possible.

Where do I go?
I have been running tours since 2002. I enjoy Land's End to John O'Groats as a moving on tour with its enormous variety of scenery and interesting bits of history. I like the islands and the west coast of Southern Thailand as a multi-fixed centre tour (we stay a couple of nights in most places) because of the beautiful tropical scenery, and quiet roads. Thailand also has the advantages of good transport, healthcare and education systems. It's possibly the most civilised country in South East Asia. I've also toured all over France and return every year to a small town to the north of Mount Ventoux for a fixed centre tour; the roads in the area may be the best high quality cycling in Europe. I see our tours as supporting local communities and the small cafes and shops we visit along the way.

Where have I been?

 I've been to about sixty different countries, some in my work and some on tours. Like the other Bikexplore Tour Leaders  I was with CTC Tours for a long time and organised tours in the UK and to France, the Baltic Republics, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, Australia (mostly Victoria), Tasmania and California. A pleasant side effect of all the travelling is friends from many different places and cultures. In some ways the world really does become smaller for the cyclo-tourist!

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Land's End to John O'Groats

This very scenic tour now uses mostly good quality hotels. Originally it was based mostly on youth hostels but I realised that our clientele want a bit of luxury and went up market.  With a longest day of 82 miles and many hills it is designed for the more experienced road cyclist. I have run it for eleven years during which we have had various adventures; including staying in the same hotel as the Tour of Britain teams and meeting Bradley Wiggins just after he'd won his first Tour de France (he was very friendly) and helping Alex McNarry take the Guinness Book of Records 'Oldest LEJoG rider' record at the age of 84; he was a very strong rider!

Over the years, Chris has taken many cyclists, and these are a few of their accounts:
Mark Waters and lots of pictures as well
Jonathan's trip
A Canadian account

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Thailand

I have been going to Thailand for twenty years, based half-way along Thailand's great southern peninsula in Trang, which is bordered by mountains to the east and the islands of the Andaman Sea to the west. I made many Thai friends in the local cycle club and was supported and encouraged by the Governor of Trang Province, who was a keen cyclist and wanted to encourage cyclo-tourism. Highlights include the scenic beauty of the tropical islands we stay on, their golden beaches and a boat trip with swimming and snorkelling. The area is probably the best place to cycle in the country, as the roads see few foreign tourists and is often wonderfully scenic, with karst outcrops, rice paddies, forest and jungle to delight the eyes. On arrival we pass briefly through Bangkok, visiting the 'Temple of the Dawn' on the mighty Chao Phraya river. On return, we can shop and dine in Bangkok's highest restaurant before a guided bike ride of old Bangkok avoiding busy roads. Staying two nights at most locations allows for rest days, and cycling at a moderate pace allows for sightseeing. The terrain varies, but the routes avoid serious climbs, and distances are shorter than average to compensate for the heat. There is luggage transfer and minibus back-up on moving-on days. Internal flights are also included.

Chris's contact details

chris@2cycle2.co.uk
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