On Wednesday 20th July at just after midday, James Stannard rolled into John O’Groats, the northern most point of the mainland UK, 83 hours after he had left Land’s End, the southern most point, to become the fastest person to make this famous journey on a folding bicycle.
Taking over two days off the previous record, James has set a new benchmark and moved the goal posts significantly for anyone who tries to come after his record, inserting himself into the lore of LEJoG in the process.
‘LEJoG’ is an iconic British bike ride, and many thousands of people take it on each year. The current record on a bicycle (not folding) is 43 hours, 25 minutes and 13 seconds, set by Michael Broadwith in June 2018. There are records on all sorts of bicycles and vehicles. The record on a penny farthing is five days and one hour, set in 1886. Someone has completed the ride on a uni-cycle.
James is a friend of ours at Albion, and has featured in both our Daytripping films, so we were excited to be able to support him in on his record-breaking ride. We caught up with him afterwards to discuss the Albion kit he used and why he decided to take on the challenge.
Which Albion products did you take for the ride, and why did you choose them?
On the bike it was the pocket bibs, short sleeve jersey and base layer. It’s what I wear normally, and it just works in all conditions. This year they introduced the Fluro Green jersey which is a no-brainer for visibility and they added some custom reflective logos from Brompton and Restrap which look super cool. The Albion backpack was always in the pocket bibs for when I grabbed food from petrol stations – you barely notice it’s there. For the rain and cold I took the arm and leg warmers, insulated jacket and rain jacket – I’ve tested them in the middle of winter in all sorts and they’ve never let me down – they’re also incredibly lightweight and packable – perfect for this ride.
Shop the collection of Albion gear that James used on his LEJoG ride.
Was there a particular product or products that stood out for your ride specifically?
The pocket bibs were a game changer for the long distance. I always had my phone and a few bars to hand – and it meant I could keep my jersey pockets empty – a luxury for big days on the bike.
What was the weather like on the trip, and how did that affect your clothing choices?
The first two days I had the extreme heatwave – getting up to 40 degrees which is pretty unheard of in the UK. I wasn’t too concerned about that as the Albion kit is super lightweight and doesn’t get saturated. I was more worried about the temperature swing over such a long distance and I knew I’d get rain in Scotland (sorry Scotland). Needless to say it was six degrees when I left Inverness and I had a monsoon thunderstorm out of nowhere in Kingussie. Everything got soaked except me – I lost a good batch of Percy Pigs that day. I also want to mention how quickly the kit dries – so I never had to worry about it being comfortable in the morning – nothing worse than starting the day in sodden bibs and socks!
Tell us a bit about the ride more generally – how did you break down the days in terms of distance, how did you settle on your target overall time, was there anything different about your route…
It was all about the first day – if I had a good start I felt like the whole thing would be fine and I’d kick on. There was a rank headwind for the first eight hours from Land’s End to Exeter but the initial starting buzz and 90’s classics got me through that. After that it was just about drinking plenty which I managed quite well. I did get caught out with a late night Korma in Lockerbie – it knocked me out and I went to sleep parched – I paid for that the next day. Teabag eyes and a decent headache for most of the day… not even a double Macca’s shifted it!
Why did you ride LEJoG on a Brompton?
As a UK cyclist I always felt like I would do it one day – then I thought how could I make it a bit different and try and raise some awareness of this awesome bike. Since working for Brompton I get so many questions from people about the bike being uncomfortable or slow – hopefully they’ll stop asking now! It’s the best product I’ve ever owned and changed my life in terms of the freedom and flexibility it gives me. I use it more as a point-to-point bike – seeing mates, riding to work – but it’s so handy having the option of taking it on a train or taxi if you’ve had a long day or a few pints.
Will this be your last long distance ride on a Brompton, or might we see some more record attempts?
Ha! Not if Albion have anything to do with it…