1000 miles: Britain's End to End

After much dreaming and making vague claims for years…

I’m riding the great “Land’s End to John O’ Groats” tour next month.

That’s the South Westerly tip all the way up to the North Easterly tip of mainland Britain. The scenic route we’re taking is going to be around 1000 miles.

My support vehicles are in the form of three friends on bikes. We should make it in a reasonable 23 days, at around 45 miles per day on average. This is a fun challenge, not a record attempt. I believe the record stands with Rob Ambrose, set in 2001 at 12 days, 1hr 59. I also had a call from Brian Davis, I think the first person to unicycle this route in 1985, who may meet us at the finish!

We’re raising money for Tearfund, part of MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY. They are a British Christian International relief and development charity, and have been fantastic at finding us accommodation along the way - with lots of churches and friends.

Starting on Tues 30th August, we’ll be on the road until Thur 22nd September. The listings of each day’s location are on our website, www.EndtoEnd.tk - so if you live nearby and want to join me on a unicycle, drop me an email!

I’m going to be riding a 36" Quax wheel (Thanks to Unicycle.com being the ‘official unicycle supplier’ to this ride, by donating part of this unicycle).

Over three weeks doing nothing but unicycling…

Can’t wait!

Sam :slight_smile:

P.S. I’ve had a few puncture issues lately - the real problem being how impossibly hard the bead is to get back on the rim (had to take it to an LBS eventually!). Does anyone have suggestions for wrangling this tyre onto the rim… short of hiring a gorrilla to opporate iron tyre levers? Can the green auto-sealing tube goop work on a 36 tube?

Wow! That’s some challenge. A 45 mile a day average for over three weeks. You must be rock’ard. :astonished:

Wow that sounds like quite a uni-tour and a cool adventure too! Was Rob Ambrose’s record set on a uni or a bike? 12 days sounds quick on a uni, slow on a bike.

Using metal tyre levers, such as the big long ones Park Tool makes helps when removing a 36" tyre. Also toe straps and wood clamps have been used in mounting 36" tyres - John Childs can probably help here.

If you search for ‘Tubeless Coker’ and find GizmoDuck’s original post about using Stan’s No Tubes you’ll find out how to make your 36er tubeless. A somewhat easier weight saving trick is to replace the standard 36" inner tube with a 29" inner tube. The 29" inner will expand to fit the 36" rim. There are directions for this conversion on livewireunicycles.com.

It was set on a unicycle! I also have a photo somewhere at home of two record breaking unicyclist at the end of riding from lands end to John o Groats. (sorry if my spelling is dodgy).

Good luck Sam, you mad eejit. :wink:


Good luck.

Tony, the bicycle record is just under two days, 45 hoursish IIRC. But they go the short way which is 850 miles.

EDIT: Quick google and it look like the record is nearer 40 hours now :astonished:

Nice one Sam i was wondering when/if you were going to post here after reading it on your blog some time ago. Wasn’t your orginal plan to use your 29er ? I’d love to join you on a uni for a few hours but i don’t think that my 24 will keep up with that beast of a 36 :slight_smile:

Good luck and all the best, i’ll keep an eye on the local tv.

Cool! Good luck mate - I did it a few years ago on a bike (a very scenic 1300 miles, 14 days) and had an excellent time. Actually, thinking about it, it was 17 years ago now - eek, I’m older than I thought :astonished: It gets easier as you go on - partly because your legs get used to it and partly because all the steepest (although not highest) hills are in the first couple of days through Cornwall and Devon. Don’t be tempted, like I was, to ride along the coast road to Bude through Widemouth Bay (1:3 hills down and up, rather slow progress that morning!)

I like the idea of doing a long tour on a unicycle, but I really don’t like riding it on the road more than I have to - it’s dangerous enough on a bike :frowning:


The CTC have an off-road route for the LEJOG, at a mere 1,176 miles and 120,000 feet of climbing…

Good luck Sam! you mentalist :stuck_out_tongue:


Yes, I’m tempted to give that a go sometime. 5-week-old baby will probably mean it won’t be for a bit though! Need to stick to more local stuff for a bit.

Hmmmm… I feel a plan coming on …

that sounds cool i would try and joint you all the way but i only have a 20" and i would have to skip school and my german exchange partner would have to very very very quickly have to learn to uni avd i would have to get him one in the first place so no chance there maybe in a few years time.

Good one Sam. It’s wicked that you’re doing it as a proper unsupported long ride.

Is this practice for a record attempt next year then, I’m sure you mentioned something about the record a bit back. If there’s an 850 mile route, 10 days should be possible, espeically for someone quite so darned fast.

I’ve used both metal and decent plastic tyre levers to get the coker tyre on without too many problems. I do the thing where you squidge the opposite side of the tyre into the middle of the rim before you finish putting the bead on, which seems to help. Clever people can put them on with just their hands, but there’s a real knack to it.


Good luck Sam and enjoy yourself.

Would it be this photo? It’s a scan from the 1990 Guinness Book of Records. Michel was still riding that unicycle a couple of years ago when I spoke to him.

those seats look painful how did they ride that distance on them!!!

Re: 1000 miles: Britain’s End to End

nickjb wrote:
> Tony, the bicycle record is just under two days, 45 hoursish IIRC. But
> they go the short way which is 850 miles.
> EDIT: Quick google and it look like the record is nearer 40 hours now
> :astonished:

Last I heard, the unofficial record was 41:04:22, set by Andy Wilkinson
on a fully faired Windcheetah:

The official record (i.e. using a UCI legal bike) was 44:04:20, set in
2001 by Gethin Butler (prior to that, Andy Wilkinson held both records).

I can’t find anything about a record closer to 40 hours.

Danny Colyer (the UK company has been laughed out of my reply address)
“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.” - Thomas Paine

Thanks for the varied encouragment and mutterings of doubt at sanity!

I had my finger on the ‘reply’ button when I realised that it was not dark, but in an hour or two it would be… so I left and had a bit of a ride. Trying out my new toe-clips, with good effect. I bought them speculatively while I was waiting for the LBS to get my tyre back on, with the (puncture patched) 36 tube inside it.

All these people who extol the virtues of 29er tubes… I’m unconvinced. The state of my 29er tube on coming out after only a day without much riding showed it resembled one of those posh party balloons which make wibbly shapes. Badly stretched at ~10cm intervals, which I had felt through the tyre, before it punctured. How it got a ‘thorn type hole’ in the tread area of the tube, with a solid rubber Quax tyre, no debris detected and barely any riding is beyond me.

So, I’ve got platform pedals, now with plastic toe things at the front. The stubby ones, without straps, which proved so easy to get out of that as I left my road, when I had to hop off to avoid a car turning in, it was only when my feet were on the pavement that I rememebered that I was trying out the toe things, and should be careful on the first dismount!

Getting into them from a freemount is more of a trick, or rather, getting into the left one is - the first, right one, is a doddle, standing still. I did (somehow!) manage it, on the first attempt, without any ignoble crashing at all… after freemounting to the non-clippy side of the pedal, and then riding very slowly, to flick the pedal over and shove my toe down on it. The non-clipped side presents itself to you by default, so with no added effort my foot can find a standard pedal surface.

Toe-clips are good. You don’t have to be a mentalist to use them, and they make circular pedaling feel quite good.

The record? This is Rob Ambrose’s record page. It got a few mentions on this forum, though I guess the forums weren’t as big as they are now.

I have no tangible plans for breaking this record, but it is certainly lurcking somewhere in my mind. I think it is well breakable, but to really make it worthwhile, with a number of other good riders and the proliferation of cokers these days, it would have to be set fast enough, and hyped sufficiently, to scare anyone else from considering attempting it for a long time. (especially as Des made murmurs of it being a good idea) I reckon it could go down to about 6 days (150 miles/day), before you get into the silly terratory of riding more than not riding, and taking Go Gel introvenously. I’ll see how this ‘fun’ one feels before saying anything else!

Joe: I wouldn’t like to shake the hand of someone who can get this tyre on without levers. I don’t know if the Coker brand one is any different in bead to the Quax. I’m hoping that a thorough inspection of the tube and inner surface of the tyre, and a good dose of green Slime, will preclude any need of removing it again for a long time.

Phil: Who’s the mentalist, for suggesting doing it off-road…? :slight_smile:


Good Luck Sam! I don’t reckon you’re mental, sorry :wink:


Good luck Sam!

Regarding the 29’er tubes- the weight saving is definitely noticeable- especially if you are doing a lot of climbing/descending. But a more reliable set-up is going tubeless-you save weight and decrease your risk of puncture. On the AUT (900km)- there were three riders with 29’er tubes, one punctured (not sure how- just lost air overnight) and was replaced with a Coker tube. From what I’ve read about people trying 29er tubes- it’s almost not worth the trouble. And certainly I would not use it for a record attempt- without a backup Coker. I’ve used the tubeless kit have not had any punctures or problems over the last year.

Oh, if you are not using the Tommy Miller SS spokes- you should look into them- combine that and a tubeless kit and you have about 500g weight waving- quite significant when you are riding that sort of distance.

The toe clips idea sounds pretty crazy, but if it works for you…

best of luck Sam!
I won’t mutter that you’re mad, I’m happy to say it very clearly! I won’t say that I would like to join you, as that would imply something about my own sanity too.