The story of the restoration of a 1950s classic bicycle for a Land's End – John O'Groats charity ride in aid of Alzheimer's Society
I was always terrible at geography, but a long cycling trip is a great way of getting some insight into physical and economic geography. I think I cycled through 25 of the old historical counties: Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Westmoreland, Cumberland, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire, Peebleshire, Midlothian, West Lothian, Clackmannanshire, Kinrosshire, Perthshire, Invernesshire, Ross & Cromarty, Sutherland, Caithnesshire.
But the really important elements of the landscape are the rivers. I crossed something like two dozen major rivers (Tamer, Taw, Exe, Avon, Wye, Severn, Trent, Derwent, Aire, Wharfe, Dove, Lune, Eden, Tweed, Forth, Earn, Tay, Garry, Spey, Beauly, Connon, Oykel, Shi , Naver, Thurso) – and countless smaller ones. That’s why we have so many hills. As you climb up from one river and descend to the next, you get a real understanding of the texture of the landscape – something you miss completely in a car.
The rivers dominate the pattern of settlement – river valleys determine the location of towns, roads, railways, and you can see how canals were designed to link the rivers.
And then there are the geological resources – from china clay and tin in Cornwall to coal in the north and oil in northern Scotland.
A long cycle ride like LEJOG is an education in itself, if you keep your eyes open and travel slowly enough to see.