Anyone doing LEL this year? Amber, you know a lot about multiday events. I’m 78 and hope to complete this thing, 1500km, 932mi, more than 10,000 climbing per day. We get 125 hours, brevet style?
What??! Ur 78yo and you’ll be doing LEL?? Dude… I’m seriously impressed!!
If can still enjoy riding at 78 then I’ll be a very happy man.
Yes - was planning to make a thread myself at some point as I need to get some feedback on sleep strategy etc etc., and just found this thread when I went into the search function to find what I’d posted about before. If you don’t mind I’d put my Qs in this thread rather than making another on LEL?
Wasn’t expecting to get in myself, so it was a bit of a surprise! I’m 33 though so a little different to being 78, that’s incredible. Have you done stuff like this before?
There’s a guy on here who was part of the organising committee at one point, @GoLongThenGoHome , who gave me some tips on the linked thread and is also riding this year: Ultra-Endurance MTB on mid-volume - #11 by PhilW
So far I have done a few 100ks (inc one on MTB which is probably worth a bit more to be fair, took 7 hours…), but I have gone and got COVID so I am losing the first week of this block (hopefully be OK again next week, it’s just been a cold for me). Booked in for a 600k Audax start of July as a warmup.
I’m trying to reach you backchannel so we can chat about training, etc. You can see my email address below…
Donna M. Orange
Hi, yeah I replied - you got my googlemail right . I don’t think I have any special insights though - the guys on here will have a lot more experience on this sort of thing than me, hence making posts myself!
I just came here to say, WOW! God speed.
As @bobmcstuff mentioned I was one of the central organising directors of London Edinburgh London 2017. I have detailed knowledge of the event organisation from start to finish and how it played out.
I also rode and completed the event in 2013. It’s often the way with brevets and big events like this. You have such a great experience as a rider that you choose to put something back into the next edition with the skills you have. Thus one edition a rider, next edition a volunteer etc.
I am riding this year, which is a lot less work preparing for, than the work that goes into the organisation behind the scenes.
I also know this year’s London Edinburgh London route director and had a pub lunch with him about 3 weeks ago. Thus have some knowledge of the route changes he’s been working on for this year’s edition.
Feel free to post your questions here and I’ll respond with my thoughts. I’m not on Facebook anymore, so you’ll only get my thoughts here or a few other forums I’m on.
As I always tell people, no such thing as a dumb question, just dumb answers. If you don’t know something, ask.
Thanks, Phil. I just now figured out how to answer you. Do you know any other riders in their late 70s and beyond? Anyone from California?
I am both enthusiastic and very nervous…
I’m not involved in the organisation this time round but I do know there were a few 70 year olds in the 2017 edition. There are also a few in the 2022 edition.
Again, this time I don’t know the breakdown, but we certainly had a few USA west coast randonneurs in 2013 and 2017.
Jack Eason was a character in the UK audax scene and may give you some inspiration for your LEL ride. He rode his bike well into his 80s.
Enthusiastic and nervous are good. It never helps to be complacent and nerves show you aren’t. Enthusiasm can get you a surprisingly long way.
You’ll have your own way of getting the fitness and endurance for the event,
I believe that a Did Not Finish (DNF) is rarely the consequence of one problem but the accumulation of errors along the way. Always deal with minor problems before they become major / ride ending.
I also subscribe to this truism. If you are ever thinking of quitting during LEL. Have some food, have some drink, have some rest or sleep if necessary. Once you’ve done those three things. Get back on your bike and start pedalling and see how you go. It might be just enough to keep you in the game.
My other simple advice for LEL is this.
If, at a control, you have eaten, if you have slept , if you’ve filled your water bottles. If you are not getting the dozies. Then get out the door and get pedalling to the next control. You can chat with fellow riders on the road. Far too many lose too much time faffing at controls. Minimise time off the bike to essentials. If you get the dozies when riding, either find somewhere like a bus stop or bench or grass verge and have a doze or get to the next control for a sleep if you can.
Oh and since you are in California
We get proper cold and wet weather in the UK, even in August it may be as low as 5C overnight. It may be biblical rain. It likely won’t get much above 20C during the day. Make sure you have spare clothing to deal with it. I think 2017 ranged from 3C to 34C during the event. Lots of rain on northern stretches and strong headwinds coming south through the Fens.
Sir, my hat is off to you. Respect
Hi Phil - simple one, thoughts on dynamo vs using batteries? I figure dynamo will probably be more fit and forget, since I then won’t need to worry about charging lights and Garmin… Otherwise I’ll be messing around at the checkpoints and will have to lug some batteries round.
Only issue is I will need to buy a new wheel and new lights etc, as everything I currently have is battery (unless you can get an adapter for Hope Vision lights which will allow it to work on a dynamo, but I think not. That battery isn’t even USB charged either).
Dynamos are great for lighting. You’ll be fine with a powerbank for other devices if you want to avoid the faff of usb charging from a dynamo (which is perfectly doable, but can introduce complexities and cost). If you aren’t planning to ride extensively in the dark, you may get away with battery lights too.
Which I guess feeds into my plans for sleep strategy - my initial plan is to break it into 5x ~300km rides and sleep in between… So it probably would be feasible to minimise riding at night. I should be fit enough to do that and have reasonably comfortable breaks; the key unknown for me is lack of sleep so I was going to make a plan that is not too aggressive on the sleep front.
But equally I wouldn’t want to be stuck somewhere with no lights or unable to ride when I wanted to because I had to wait for charging.
With the current lights I have I would need to get a bigger battery pack anyway, and they cost maybe half what a new dynamo wheel would cost. It’s not really about the costs in any case - it’s about having a setup that works with minimal faff and doesn’t get in the way of me doing what I want to do.
Thank you all. Phil, you will be much faster. I will be thrilled if I can make the 125 hours. Giving it my best shot, putting my aging bod on a lightweight gravel bike, training carefully, and trying to figure out the logistics.
It is really good to hear from y’all.
Donna M. Orange
Donna - Good luck and have fun!
A few input points from the peanut gallery…
- Use a crazy spreadsheet and create a plan. A RUSA rider put one together for PBP2019 (link) and I’m sure there is something similar for LEL2022 out there.
- Assuming LEL uses control times similar to a 1200K control times, things get “easier” after 600K. If you can get to the 600K point, the running clock sort of slows down. As in, the speed you need to maintain lowers.
- You likely will have a lot less “friction” at LEL than at PBP since English is the shared language and the volume of riders is lower.
We look forward to seeing your ride report in July or August. Wait till some of the Randonesia kicks in first before writing it up.
Cheers for the link - this seems useful: Small Engine, Big Tank: PBP Tips for the First-Timer
I’m not planning on starting at the crack of dawn on the first day if I can avoid it, so I imagine controls will be relatively busy when I get there.
On LEL, do the controls actually get that busy? I guess there’s only 1800 riders or whatever so it must get fairly spread out? (having read it properly, it seems they do).
I also see in that link that she stayed in a hotel on PBP. Doesn’t that count as outside assistance? The LEL route goes past my brother’s front door at a convenient point for a 2nd night sleep. I hadn’t thought about it before, but if you’re allowed to sleep in a hotel why not at my brother’s house? I thought you weren’t supposed to get outside assistance (but the prospect of a real bed and a shower would probably be quite appealing after ~700k…)
I think one of the key strategies on LEL is to minimise unnecessary stresses and mental load. Keeping everything charged is one such stress you don’t need to have.
I am a confirmed dynamo user. It just works, and whilst battery light might be a good choice on say a 600km with one overnight. I think I just adds additional burden, over multiple nights when you are already under extreme mental and physical burden. There’s 2000 riders, you can’t rely on plugging into recharge at controls, and even if you can, means you need to be stationary when you could be riding.
I’d also caution against any strategy that involves only riding in daylight. There will be around 15 hours of daylight at time of LEL. If aiming for 300km, then you will need to pass through 4 or 5 controls. Let’s say you take an hour at each control, eating, filling bottles. Then potentially your daylight riding time has come down to 10 hours. Are you going to average 30 km/h? Are you going to have zero punctures, zero mechanicals? Are you going to have no headwinds or rain? Are you going to have zero physical ailments later on in the ride? Still hitting that average?
Is it poor visibility during the day, can you put your lights on and not worry about having enough juice for when it goes dark?
As for GPS I run a Garmin eTrex 30x. It runs for 600km on one set of AA. Carry 6 or more AA batteries and you have LEL covered. No GPS charging required.
As for phone. I go into radio silence on these events. I stay completely in the event. My phone is on me but stays off. No need to recharge phone.
To summarise my strategy is to minimise the stresses and mental load.
- Run a dynamo, it just works, and takes a stress point away, poor visibility or been delayed and need to ride most of night, you’re covered. Don’t complicate it, just use dynamo to power your front light. Rear lights such as Cateye Omni 5 on AAA batteries will last whole event.
- Consider a GPS that’s runs off AA. AA batteries are commonly available in the UK and you’ll be able to buy at any garage and most grocery shops and newsagents. They are lightweight and compact enough to carry all you need for the event.
- If you do stick with internal battery GPS. Carry a battery pack of 10,000mAh or more with a fast charge port and plug in GPS whenever you are stopped.
- Phone turned off and just use for emergencies.
No charging required, no battery packs, no charge plugs and US / UK adapters and cables, no stress.
I can’t stress enough how mentally tired you’ll become on the event. Simple decisions like what to eat at a control seem like insurmountable mountains. It’s like you are thinking in slow motion. You will develop the 1000 yard stare. The less you need to think about the better. KISS applies
Unless you are ruthless at controls and have zero mechanicals or punctures and favourable weather, you will be riding at night. You’d need to be averaging 30 km/h on the road if you spend an hour at each control over 300km. If you can keep your average stop to 45 mins or less than an average of about 26 km/h over 1500km would enable daylight riding only. But it’s a risky strategy.
My sleep strategy is to sleep when I need to, and ride when I don’t. It goes something like this.
Arrive at control.
Turn GPS off. Take water bottles and brevet card off bike. Take cycling shoes off. Present brevet card. Check how far ahead (or behind) of time limits I am and distance to next control. Get food. Fill up water bottles. Eat food. Visit toilet if necessary. Is this a bag drop location for me? Change my base layers and maybe a shower first, pick up spare tubes if I’ve had a few punctures.
Now I assess whether I am feeling sleepy (getting the dozies I call it). If yes then I see if I can get a bed. If no bed but too tired to ride to next control (divide distance by 20 to get a rough number of hours to next control. Keep the maths simple and mental load low ) then I’ll find a quiet corner to doze until bed free or I’m refreshed enough to ride. If I’m not sleepy I’ll set off to next control and repeat. I don’t pay attention to day or night. If I’m not sleepy I ride.
You might also be able to take advantage of jet lag whilst riding. Ride through that first night as your body is still in a different time zone thinking it’s early evening when it’s the early hours and get ahead whilst the bulge of riders sleeps on that first night on a day time only riding strategy.
Unless this matches your type I’d caution against a spreadsheet other than anything as a guide plan. Do not have a spreadsheet that tells you you will average this speed, spend this long at controls, and arrive exactly at these controls at exactly this time, and finish with hours to spare.
We saw a lot of detailed spreadsheets appear for LEL17. But like Mike Tyson said “Everyone has a plan till they get hit in the face”. A number of riders made tactical errors in the first 24 hours that matched their spreadsheet timings, but meant they did not finish in time or even finish at all. You can trace a lot of the 40% who did not finish in 2017 to tactical errors made in the first 24-36 hours.
For instance there was a stonking tailwind in the first 24 hours. But because it put them ahead of their timings they threw it all away by stopping early, and for longer, when they returned south they hit a stonking headwind and many were crawling along at 12 km/h and ended up out of time. Some who when warned at controls about the strong headwinds forecast, decided to ride through the night and crossed the Fens before the winds hit. If there’s advantageous weather take advantage of it, and sod any plan you had, ride like the wind as they say.
So yes high level spreadsheet of rough timings to give you an idea, but don’t let it become a point of stress or worry during the ride or lead you to make poor decisions in the face of reality during the event.
It does not have higher average speeds needed in the first half like PBP. The minimum overall average speed remains constant across the entire distance,
This true, whilst there are many differences between British English and American English and Irish and Scot’s, native speakers rarely have problems with variations and different pronunciation. You may have trouble with some of the stronger English or Welsh or Scottish or Irish accents and some local idioms and dialect but I’m sure you’ll be fine.
It’s slicker on LEL, because it’s prepaid there’s no fiddling with cards or money and change to pay for things (unless at shops or garages along they way) but it’s also easy for 45 mins, an hour to pass before you leave.
Bulges at LEL controls tend to happen as night approaches. New riders are arriving all the time, riders already there aren’t leaving. Watching our tracking and reports from controllers in 2017. I was shocked at just how many riders would not leave a control if it meant some night riding to the next control.
Let’s say you budget to sleep for 5 hours at the last control you can reach before it gets dark. But you get there and already there is a wait for beds of 1.5 hours. Now what’s your plan, sleep for 6.5 hours? Spend 1.5 hours eating then sleep?
Plus remember that between London and Brampton the route is two way. You will meet riders returning southbound whilst you are going north or vice versa depending on your start.
Budget for more time at controls than you initially think. Have a view on what you’ll do if you do find yourself in the bulge of riders. How will you deal with it, or break out of the bulge? It’s very hard to ride faster, it easy to reduce your stop time if you are creative.
That’s about right. Support vehicles if booked aren’t allowed on the LEL course, only at controls. If found to be on the course it’ll mean disqualification for all riders the vehicle supports.
If you get a mechanical mid controls and you can’t fix it. Getting a taxi or lift to a bike shop, having it fixed, then returning to where you left the route is also okay.
Generally anything you take advantage of must be commercial and / or available to other riders. For instance an audax UK member setup a van on Yadd Moss and served up hot tea or coffee and cake to any passing riders. The later point is important, there should be no discrimination.
To be honest , who is going to police that? I have a few friends who live in Cambridge and in 2017 they slept at their homes coming south before pushing on to the finish. They did not put any other riders in danger through that action . They freed up beds at the nearest controls for other riders.
If you want to sleep at your brothers then do it. Just make sure you leave and return to the same point on the route. The LEL police helicopters won’t be tracking you down. But I would also caution against it. It will take you out of the event, even if only for a few hours, you’ll miss the atmosphere during those hours, and momentum will make it hard to get going again if staying with family.
I will also give you an anecdote. We have a concept of a DIY audax in the UK. You plan the route, you choose the control locations, you submit an entry stating what you are going to do and when. I did a DIY 200km in 2020 during the pandemic, when no cafes or pubs were open. I planned a figure of 8 , returning to my house after 100km. I had my lunch after the first 100km, it was a nice day, I was home , I sat in my garden in the sun reading a book. I didn’t head out on the second 100km to complete my audax / brevet. Beware of comfort and convenience on long distance events
Booking a hotel in advance and staying there is fine.
It’s not quite a strict as ultra racing where this would mean disqualification. So consider your conscience if you complete LEL, but have in the back of your mind what if I hadn’t stayed at my brother’s, would I have finished?
Yeah, sounds reasonable. I was expecting to be anyway to some extent - if for absolutely no other reason than I am probably not going to go for a super early start time on the Sunday anyway, so it will be probably dark by the time I reach my first stop point. But the guy above suggested it could be possible to minimise it…
I’ll probably just go for the dynamo so I don’t have to worry about it and can ride whenever I like. I would not want to be stuck at a control waiting to charge lights when I want to be riding or vice versa, stuck in the middle of nowhere with no lights in the dark.
Donna’s the one from Cali and will have the jet lag (possible) benefit . Not so much for me from Manchester.
I get the concept of “keep riding unless you’re too tired”, but my concern is that this is the main unknown for me, I worry that I could get into a hole and that might derail my chances later on. I’ve obviously done big bike rides off cr@p sleep/hardly any sleep before but not for 5 days in a row - so it’s not necessarily about night time vs day time, just the vague idea that making sure I get say 4-6 hours sleep per 24 hours that might set me up better for the later parts of the ride. I’d have no issue with doing that in the middle of the day if that means the beds will be empty
I’ve entered a 600 in early July anyway so will see how I get on there. Also just sorted logistics for Badger Divide early June (gravel-ish bikepacking in Scotland) - that’s going to have a 100 mile MTB day on it so that will be fun