Lands End to John O'Groats


Richard is riding an ancient Raleigh Royal

This classic Raleigh steel framed (Reynolds 531 tubes), lugged tourer has relaxed geometry and has been completely refitted for the End to End(E2E) ride. The only original components are the Frame, Seatpost and Brakes, the rest is Campg gear, a Racing T triple chainset and front derailleur with Veloce 9s for levers, rear mech and cassette. Campag Scirroco wheels which, although probably not ideal for touring, are pretty bomb proof with their 30mm v Shaped rim and really unusual with the G3 spoke system. Also fitted is the Campag Ergo Brain 10 for capture of every conceivable statistic and a neat read out of your current gear!

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Mark is riding a Specialized Sequioa '04 Elite.

Unfortunately his old tourer was beyond repair and so he did some research into what was available. He wanted a modern looking compact aluminium frame bike which would be quick for un-laden riding post E2E and which had the ability to go touring. He found that most of these types of bikes were purely for road racing, had no rack mounting points and had a frame geometry and stiffness which would make riding all day uncomfortable. The vast majority of touring bikes still use steel frames, which are less rigid and have a more comfortable, upright riding position.
A compromise was found in the Specialized Sequoia range. Whilst having a modern light, stiff, aluminium frame, it has carbon forks with polymer inserts, a suspension seat post and drop handlebars with an adjustable height/angle. The gearset is Shimano 105 9 Speed throughout apart from the chainset which is Specialized's own. The bike also has the mounting points for a rear pannier rack and has SKS race blade mudguards fitted.

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Richard has 3 key advantages on his bike listed in order of importance:

1. Gear ratio setup of 52 / 42 / 30 front and 14 - 28 on the rear compared to 52 / 42 / 30 front and 12 - 25 on the rear
2. A worn in (and that bit is important) Brooks B17 saddle (particularly smart in green with brass rails) compared to a specialized Body Geometry Milano Comfort Max saddle (the name is just noise!)
3. Cantelever brakes compared to dual pivot brakes

We'll let you know the relative merits of these small differences as we progress. Richard has no disadvantages because he is authoring the web site!
Here is the update...

Mark changed his cassette for one with a bigger low gear, the replacement turned out to be a bit cheap and nasty and broke on the first proper hill on day one when a little pressure was applied. He replaced it in a bike shop in Redruth for a better quality (Shimano Ultegra) cassette 14 - 27 and this served him well. When you are fuller loaded the low gears really count as you carry no momentum up the hills.
We were both delighted with our saddles and the most common question we were asked after the ride ("how's your bum?") could honestly be answered by both parties - "it's fine, thanks for the interest."
As for brakes Mark rides like such a nutter down the hills he doesn't really need any anyway. But the change of brake blocks to something a bit more grippy than the racing blocks he had at the start of the trip instilled extra confidence in the bikes stopping power.

Both of us are using Altura Skye panniers and plan to travel as light as we possibly can, where possible throwing stuff away as we go.
The Following Photo Shows Richard's kit prior to packing, all this fit into the four panniers. Different coloured plastic bags were used and a list of what was in what bag in order to allow for quick access to items without disturbing the whole pack. In the first few days this was a valuable bit of organisation, by the end chaos reigned!

By the time we left the hotel in Chepstow, where we had met our wives, all items not used to that point were returned home. That was a good kilo worth!