End to End: A guide – Part 2

In Part 1 of my guide to cycling End to End, we discussed the background to the trip, why people do it, and whether you should choose to do JOGLE (North to South) or LEJOG (South to North)

The next important decision is whether you want to do the trip supported or unsupported. Lets look at what I mean by this:

A supported tour can vary from someone to meet you at the end of each day, all the way to a permanent support car carrying all of your gear and food that follows you as you cycle each day. Supported tours can be much faster, and are convenient as very little extra equipment is needed for your bike.

An unsupported tour is where you would carry everything you need for the trip on your bike. The only real way of doing this is in pannier bags, either just rear or front and rear, possibly together with a bar bag. This allows for all your equipment and food to be carried with you on the bike, but there is obviously a serious weight penalty and you’ll need to be able to fit a pannier rack to your bike.

The main factors affecting this decision would be:

1) Someone to be your support crew!

Sounds obvious, but without one or more people who can give up their time to help you, you’re on your own. If you want to go supported, time to start begging to family, friends and distant relations! Hopefully somebody will be willing to meet you at the end of each day, and this saves you a lot of weight on the bike

2) Length of trip

If you’re planning to complete the trip in anywhere under 10 days then I’d seriously consider if you can do it carrying all your stuff. Going unsupported would help if you’re doing around 100 miles each day on a tight schedule. If you’ve got more time however, then the extra challenge and personal success of being unsupported might make it a valid option.

3) Accommodation

If you’re certain that you want to go unsupported, then you’ll need to seriously consider your accommodation choice. If it’s possible, I’d recommend that you try and stick to hostels/hotels if you’re unsupported – the extra bulk associated with camping and the extra equipment required may just outweigh the cost of staying in hostels. Staying in hostels will cut down the amount of stuff you need and make going unsupported quite a lot easier. If you’re set on camping then make sure you read my upcoming article on equipment where I’ll go into what equipment is best when you’re travelling by bike.

4) Your Bike

Some bikes are more suited to fully loaded touring than others. While most mountain bikes and all touring bikes have the required mounts and frames for pannier racks, many road bikes will not and fitting a rack will be extremely difficult. Even if you can, these bikes are designed for speed, not strength, and the added weight may cause all sorts of problems such as broken spokes. If you’re riding a carbon road bike then going unsupported and camping is practically out of the question. In a future article I’ll go into more detail on bikes, but for the most basic pannier rack you will need eyelets on the frame such as these:

Eyelets like this are needed for racks so check your bike

P-clips can be used for the upper supports where the rack attaches to the seatstays if your bike does not have threaded bosses but are not ideal:

P-clips can be used for pannier racks for bikes without bosses

If you’re touring very light (such as staying in hostels), then Topeak make a great range of rack bags and seatpost racks which can be used on just about any bike. This is a great solution if your bike won’t take normal racks and may just allow you to complete E2E unsupported:

A Topeak seatpost rack for light touring

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That’s it for this week – next time I’ll talk more about the different bikes available if you’re looking at purchasing one especially for the trip

About Matt

I'll admit to being a bit of a kit freak, but cycling is a great sport for that! I've ridden a bike since I can remember, and now mainly cycle on road and on tour. I completed JOGLE in 2010 and plan to tour Europe next year. This blog is my place for product reviews, guides and my opinions on cycling in the UK