Getting out on two-wheels: How cycling on the National Cycle Network has contributed to my good health

By Guest Blogger,
Photo of man wearing cycling gear next to John O'Groats sign celebrating reaching John o'gGroats by bicycle

Peter having completed his journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats

Photo of man on bicycle wearing a helmet mid longdistan ce journey on a rural road waving to camera

Day 26 of Peter's epic journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats

Peter Langford is a retired vicar and supporter of Sustrans who recently cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Peter has always led an active lifestyle and has enjoyed cycling and walking since he was a young boy. Even when diagnosed with arthritis in both knees, Peter didn’t let this hold him back from doing what he loves.

This is because the low-impact exercise helps the knees to maintain a normal range of movement without adding further stress. Cycling hundreds of miles a year to remain fit and healthy.

To celebrate his 85th birthday Peter decided to take on the epic challenge of travelling more than 1,000 miles by bike from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

When we spoke to Peter he said:

“A mixture of things motivate me to cycle. I’ve experienced some of the UK’s most breath-taking landscapes by bike and enjoy being out in the fresh air but have to say the health benefits that come with riding a bike is one of my top motivators. I suffer from arthritis in both of my knees which causes me some discomfort and can become stiff if I do too much high-impact exercise.

“My physiotherapist suggested cycling because unlike other activities it doesn’t put too much pressure on your joints and helps to strengthen the muscles which support your knees. That’s not to say it cures arthritis.

But for me, cycling is one of the easiest ways to get my heart racing without causing any discomfort and I believe regularly going out on two-wheels has contributed to my good health over the years.

- Peter Langford

Up for a challenge 

“I remember the first time I took on Land’s End to John O’Groats – I thought to myself never again! I was underprepared and using an old bike, so found the whole journey incredibly difficult, both physically and mentally.

“This time around, I cycled 2,500 miles in the run-up to the challenge, double the length of the actual ride. It’s the third time I’ve completed it and the most prepared I’ve ever been. This is because I was determined to get out on my bike, come rain, shine or gale force winds, cycling up to 100 miles a week.

Travelling on the National Cycle Network

“I travelled on a mixture of terrain this year, including routes on the National Cycle Network. It was lovely cycling down quiet streets, small lanes and disused rail paths instead of busy main roads. The signage was also fantastic on most of the routes and there was plenty of stunning scenery to stop off and admire along the way. Overall, cycling on the Network made the journey feel much safer and I’d recommend anyone considering taking on the challenge to do the same.

“Although the ride was tough, it was really enjoyable. I travelled through a lot of incredibly beautiful countryside. Especially the National Cycle Network route through Scotland, between Loch Lomond and Inverness, which was the most attractive of the three rides I’ve completed.

“For now I don’t think I’ll be taking on any more large-scale biking adventures. There’s no doubt that I’ll be out on my bike in the near future but I think I’ll be sticking to more local paths. National Cycle Network route 1, passing through Beccles and Norwich is particularly useful and just down the road so I imagine I’ll ease back in with that. Getting out there and having fun is the main thing for me.”   

Find out more about cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats