Major Jen to Ground Control: 'I made it to John O'Groats with no punctures'
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A serving officer in the British Army completed a Land's End to John O’ Groats (Lejog) solo cycle ride on schedule and the Caithness Courier was there to congratulate her yesterday afternoon.
Major Jen Price arrived at the iconic location in the late afternoon after a gruelling 1000-mile ride across the UK and we met up with her at The Northern Point café.
"I took my time getting here as it was extremely windy today and I was getting buffeted all the way along. It was probably the windiest day I've had," said the 31-year-old who is fundraising for the Veterans’ Foundation.
Jen undertook the charity challenge without a support crew and packed her camping kit along with a few clothes in the bike's panniers. "There was a big flag on the back too. It was very unaerodynamic."
Despite the fact there was no official welcoming committee at her final destination point, Jen said "there was a lovely German chap who took a photo of me and lots of tourists". She said she had taken seven hours to get to John O'Groats having left from Tongue in the morning. "I started at Land's End on the 7th of May so it took 12 days. I didn't want to jinx the trip and never said the word 'puncture' until I made it to the end. I actually had no punctures at all though. I didn't fall off but there were a couple of near misses, especially today when it was so windy."
Jen said that "door to door" the trip is 874 miles but she took a "strange route through England" as she wanted to meet her grandparents on the way. "It was a 1000 miles on the route I took." The Hampshire-born army officer said she undertook the Lejog challenge in aid of the Veterans' Foundation – a grant giving organisation that looks after around 300 smaller military charities. "It helps the ones that don't get so much coverage normally. They look at where the need is greatest."
After arriving at Groats, Jen said that though her body wanted to stop her mind did not. "I could happily jump on a ferry now and keep going. That's the thing about cycling, people get this weird addiction and just want to keep going. When I arrived, I just took 30 minutes to myself to enjoy the view and soak it up."
The Lejog challenge is number 5 of 12 "extreme challenges" that Jen has planned over the 12 months of 2022 with the aim of raising £100K for charity. The challenges are multi-discipline and include a canoe marathon, an Iron Man, a multi-stage ultra-marathon along with climbs up Kilimanjaro, the Matterhorn and the Cerro Aconcagua in South America. "None of them are events I have completed before. In total I will cover over 2500km."
Jen said that she is "coming out" of the British Army in July after a decade of service but will not give up on military life completely and will sign up to work with the reserve forces on a part-time basis. "I was a Royal Artillery officer to begin with, working with drones and armoured guns and posted to Nigeria and the Falklands. The Falklands is very similar to here actually but there are more trees here. I then moved on to working in strategic communications which I find really interesting and I want to keep doing that part-time."
She says that the extreme challenges are part of her "transition" to civvy life. "I wanted to have a sabbatical and do something crazy but meaningful."
Jen said she really enjoyed the fact she travelled so far "by human power alone" and though she looks forward to continuing her challenges was preparing to get the train back home from Wick today.
Donations can also be made directly via the JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jennevolve1212