Embarking on a cycling journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats isn’t your typical summer adventure for most children, but for Harry, it’s the culmination of a yearly tradition of Father and Son adventures that started when he was much younger. Harry has already accomplished the remarkable feat of cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats twice, raising £21,000 for Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital along the way. 

This year, Harry decided to push the limits with a new challenge - cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats and back again, otherwise known as LEJOGLE!

When asked about his inspiration for such an ambitious trip, Harry recalls how his love for exploration and meeting new people during their previous adventures made him yearn for more. "Every year when you touch the signpost you wish the adventure could go on a few more weeks," Harry explains. The idea of cycling from one end of the UK to the other and back captured his imagination, and with his dad’s support, the decision was made.

 

Supporting Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital

 

Passionate about wildlife conservation, Harry chose to raise funds for Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital. His fascination with hedgehogs sparked this commitment after learning about their endangered status. "I have loved them ever since," Harry says with a smile. For years now, he’s been fundraising to make a difference for these animals he adores. 

Tiggywinkles is a free wildlife hospital, the busiest and most advanced in the World. Started 40 years ago by the Stocker family in their back garden, Tiggys has treated over 300,000 patients! Utilising the latest technologies, the best veterinary nurses, and Specialist veterinary surgeons, the hospital gives wildlife the best care, treatment, medicine and love available. 

 

Preparation and Training

 

Preparing for a 50-day cycling trip requires serious dedication. Harry’s training regimen includes hikes, regular cycling to school, and weekend bike rides. As part of his scouting activities, he’s built up endurance and stamina essential for the journey ahead and will be cycling around Thruxton Race track the week before they leave, cycling 30 laps, the equivalent of 75 miles. His father, Nick, has meticulously planned their route, gradually increasing difficulty to match their improving fitness levels.

 

Safety and Equipment

 

Nick ensures they stay on safer, traffic-free routes wherever possible, and when they do hit a busier road, Harry will be sent in front with Nick cycling closely behind. They take advantage of the National Cycle Network. Their equipment, including Bluetooth-enabled cycle helmets for communication, adds an extra layer of safety, crucial during descents and to warn each other about potential hazards. They found this particularly useful in Cornwall and Devon - Nick bombs off down the hill and if it's all clear Harry gets to experience the true wonder of break-free downhills! They'll also avoid cycling in the dark or poor light as much as possible and wear bright clothing. 

 

The Big Agnes Blacktail Hotel 3 Bikepacking Tent

 

Nick is a big admirer of the Big Agnes brand, noting that they really "think about the user". Their Big Agnes Blacktail Hotel 3 Bikepacking Tent was carefully chosen for its spacious design, quality light materials, and practical features. It offers them a porch to park their trailer, a super spacious sleeping area with an exit for each if needed. Internally there are plenty of storage shelves, and externally it has loops for drying out jackets. There is also an area designed for hanging their cycle helmets!

 

Highlights Along Harry's Route

 

Harry and Nick will be meeting lots of Scouts on the way - some are taking them paddling, and others are putting on campfires. From the Tarka Trail’s exhilarating 15km downhill stretch in Devon to the scenic beauty of Scotland’s Loch Ness and Ben Nevis, Harry looks forward to the sights along the way. Reflecting on past adventures, he’s learned valuable lessons about packing efficiently, bikepacking gear, and the importance of perseverance, advice he readily shares with other aspiring young adventurers - "don't give up, it's a lot of hard work, but it's worth it".

When asked about his dream cycling companion, Harry lights up at the thought of joining forces with Sean Conway, his cycling hero! Sean is a renowned adventurer known for his epic feats - cycling America, completing 105 ironman's back to back, running the London Marathon dressed as a Scout Symbol. Harry hopes he will join them for a leg of their journey this year. Harry also refers to Anna McNuff and her crazy adventures - “I am also a Warrior!".

 

Packing Wisely: Lessons Learned 

 

One of the most valuable lessons Harry and Nick have learned from their previous adventures is the art of packing light yet efficiently. As they prepare for their epic cycling journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back, they’re applying this wisdom more than ever.

"Over the years, we’ve learned to pack smart," Nick explains. "It’s not just about what you think you’ll need but what you actually use." Their strategy involves a rigorous process: packing their bags or trailer, then meticulously unpacking and scrutinising each item. The goal? To shed at least 30% of the initial load, ensuring they only carry essentials.

"This year, we’ve taken it a step further," Nick continues. "We’ve arranged to pick up some supplies en route, like mosquito nets and gnat spray, from a box we’ve sent ahead to Karnak Comic Shop in Callander. It’s a neat trick that lightens our load without compromising on preparedness."

Reflecting on past mistakes, Harry chimes in with a laugh, "One thing I’ve learned the hard way is about food choices." He confesses to a recurring error: packing what he calls "Zombie Apocalypse Food"—items from the back of the pantry that seem practical but end up being unnecessary weight. "Last year, I had this one packet of Salt and Vinegar peanuts that I carried for 32 days without touching".

 

Pedalling for a Purpose 

 

Harry’s upcoming journey on the 3rd July is more than just a cycling trip; it’s a testament to youthful determination and a passion for making a positive impact. Follow along as he embarks on this extraordinary journey, proving that age is no barrier to big adventures and meaningful contributions to the world around us.

Harry recently attended a climate change lecture with his Dad and noted how he was the only person under 40 attending. It's clear to see from speaking with Harry how important spreading a message about conservation is during his journey. In his words, "litter kills animals and burning fuels is killing us, so don’t drop rubbish, recycle it and why not cycle more instead of taking a car everywhere?".

For those interested in following Harry’s journey or supporting his cause, there are various platforms including a Facebook page, Instagram, and a JustGiving page. These platforms not only document their adventure but also serve as a way for supporters to cheer them on and contribute to Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital.

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June 27, 2024 — Jessica Soo-Banham