Land’s End to John O’ Groats: a Social and Racing History

Paul Jones

RIGHTS SOLD: Little, Brown and Company (U.K.)

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What would compel someone to ride the length of Britain against the clock? 

Paul Jones goes in search of the unusual individuals who have, since as far back as 1880, challenged themselves to do just that; braving unforgiving terrain, British weather and all manner of hazards from wild dogs to sleep-deprivation induced hallucination.

From a pair of intrepid Victorians on penny farthings “doing the diagonal” to Michael Broadwith’s recent successful attempt (43 hours, 25 minutes 13 secs), the key figures in the history of this most extreme of cycling challenges appear either in the form of unearthed historical accounts or in first-hand interviews. 

Paul Jones examines how these individuals emerged from the particular conditions of British cycling, with its tradition of time trials, discreetly run from church halls, club “reliability rides” and obsessive self-reliance balanced with a paradoxical sense of fellowship. 

In the same way that Richard Askwith’s Feet in the Clouds evoked the pure essence of Fell running, End to End will blend personal experience, reportage and mythmaking, as the author’s own exploration of the route bring him into contact with the landscapes, the communities and the characters that explain Britain’s cycling heritage and sustain the LEJOG myth …

Paul Jones is an occasional racing cyclist who struggles to balance the demands of writing about cycling with doing some actual cycling.  

His first book explored the niche and deranged world of the hill climb and is seen as the definitive (and only) work on the subject. His new book, I Like Alf: 14 Lessons from the Life of Alf Engers, is a biography of mythical folk hero Alf Engers, which has drawn exceptional reviews: ("I strongly recommend it, an insight into a way of cycling that is largely forgotten now." William Fotheringam, Guardian

Beyond that, he has an obsession with time, social change and people and tries to explore this in his writing. 

In his spare time he is an English teacher.