My 2023 by Kelly Phillips

As I sit and write this, I have scrolled through social media and read peoples 2023 highlights before we all ring in the New Year.

This scrolling got me thinking about my year and what I have achieved, not just personally but also with like-minded people, i.e./ Lycra clad lovelies, namely ‘roomie’ aka Helen Arnold. We decided after a steak dinner with Jacqui and Debs who had just done it, that we would cycle Lands’ End to John O groats. It was a wish of Helens to do this challenge and as my 40th was approaching I thought why not.

Helen and I decided to book places with a tour company, Pedal Britain, and do the trip in 14 days instead of 10 days. We both wanted to ensure we experienced every second and ‘be present’ in the moment without worrying about ‘time constraints’ so to speak, after all it wasn’t a race but our holiday.

We paid our £250 deposit, and the date was set, August 2022, so the training was to begin in earnest in the New Year…..I wasn’t worried at all…. just slightly panicking would I mentally be able to get through it. Unfortunately, our training hit a slight set back, Helen came off her bike, and to add insult to injury I ploughed into her as she came down. This meant that Helen suffered a couple of broken bones on opposing sides of the upper body…… no cycling and no training for about 12 weeks. It also meant no LEJOG.

Helen and I discussed the trip and felt it would be more ideal to do the trip the following year, it would enable Helen to recover without the pressure of trying to fit all the training in for a 1000 mile ride.

Darren at Pedal Britain booked us onto the August 2023 tour, and the ever-tenacious Helen focused on her rehabilitation and made a fab recovery.

During our club rides and training rides word got about what we were planning to do, and the one question we always got asked was ‘what charity are you doing it for?’ Our reply was always ‘none’, it’s our holiday.

Fellow member Perry Taylor was also doing LEJOG, but he was doing it in May and unsupported, which meant he planned the route he would take, camp at times carrying all his own equipment that he would need during the trip. Both Helen and I were in awe of Perry and looked forward to his daily updates which were informative yet inspiring with a touch of humor. Like ourselves Perry wanted to do a personal challenge, but he didn’t stop at John O groats he then continued up to Dunnet Head the most northern part of mainland UK. In the end Perry asked if anyone wanted to donate then they could make a donation to his just giving page, which raised over £1200 for the Parkinsons Society.

August 5th 2023 Helen and I met at Colchester Train station for our journey to the meeting point in Penzance where we would meet the rest of our fellow tour mates. The weather was shocking all the way down and quietly we were hoping that the following day our first day wasn’t going to be as wet and windy.

It wasn’t, it was dry and sunny with a tail wind.

After the obligatory photos at the sign post we were off, and all the worry I had in the build up suddenly disappeared and in its place was a feeling of excitement and belief that I was going to complete this. With every peddle I became more and more centered focused and excited for the next two weeks. This became more prevalent on day 2, 1.5 miles in to over a 70 mile ride ending on Dartmoor, classed as one of the, if not toughest days on the tour. My bike had a failure or my E-tap, electronic gearing did. My rear mech failed which meant I had to use the tour’s spare bike, until day 7, which was 10 speed and slightly the wrong geometry. As the rest of the group passed, Helen and I with the assistance of Mick our ride guide/mechanic and Peter the van driver we quickly got my pedals changed over so I could get riding again, I turned to Helen and said there is no way I am not pedaling every inch of this ride, we then set off again.

I could go on and on and detail each day of the ride, but to check out each day you can click on this link News Articles Archive – B&D Plastics ( and it will give you a description of each day with a few pictures. My workplace kindly supported Helen and I in our endeavors and helped spread the word as 6 weeks prior to the off we decided to ask for donations for the British Heart Foundation.

We chose this charity as Helen and I have had our families impacted by various heart related conditions as well as some members of the Rovers. The British Heart foundation fund research and specialist units like the one featured in a GCN video earlier in 2023.

Helen and myself are extremely humbled and thankful for all the support and donations, we managed to raise over £6000.

Some would say that the way Helen and I decided to do our LEJOG, was expensive, which was, especially with a £600 bike part, but what I personally got from this ride and the experiences I had and the people we met and the scenery we witnessed, money doesn’t matter, I lived and did so with my best friend and ‘ride or die’ Helen and accomplished something that a few years ago I would have talked myself out of for different reasons. The point is no matter how you do it compared to someone else, just do it.

If 2024 is your year to achieve a goal you have then do it, do not overthink or second guess yourself. If you need advice or tips then ask away, you’re gaining knowledge to prepare yourself to achieve what you have planned.

For anyone considering LEJOG, it’s not difficult, anyone can do it. I think Helen would agree that putting the milage in beforehand will stand you in good stead, also ensure your bike is ready, ensure its roadworthy and in good working order. Also consider whether you need your electric geared bike, it can be costly and uncomfortable if not able to be fixed there and then. Be prepared to live in a bubble and eat…omg eating becomes boring but essential because as Peter said at the beginning, you become tired but physically stronger with each pedal stroke and need the fuel, so learn if you haven’t already what works for you as food on the bike as keeping fueled is essential.

I wish you all a Happy, healthy Pedaling New Year and to achieving any goal you have set yourself for 2024.

Kelly P x