LEL (london edinburgh london) 2022

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 :smiley: . 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 :wink:

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 :grimacing:

Power to your elbow, or maybe your legs, Dorange :+1: I am a mere stripling of 66 and am also taking part. On high volume plans on the run up to the event with the statutory 2/4/600s to break myself in to the distance.

Then this is something to make a known for you. It’s something you need to build into your training between now and August.

This is one of those “it depends” when people ask how to train for LEL. Majority of training is just building the endurance fitness up. But with the sleep deprivation we have something you need to go and see how it kicks in for you, when it kicks in, and how you can deal with it.

You will have to head out and see how sleepy tired feels. As well as your 600, before then I’d suggest just heading out at midnight after a weeks work. Cycle through the entire night with a plan to be home by breakfast. Go find out how you cope through the night, when the dozies kick in, and how it progresses, You don’t need a big ride to make the dozies a known for you. One of the keys of long distance riding is recognising different types of fatigue early and dealing with them so they never become a problem.

Most I’ve done in a day on a mtn bike is the Ridgeway which is about 90 miles. A friend had leant out his mtn bike to another friend and so was on a CX bike. Boy was he sore by the end. On the mtn bike it was fine, time for a pint. My mtn biking was pre long distance riding. I did an off road coast to coast over 6 days in 2005 but that was only 30-50 miles per day.

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Hey Sean and all on this thread,
Your wise counsel is very helpful to me, an aging first-timer. Already trying to lengthen the distance of my long rides—trying for 300k this Saturday. And having a routine for controls seems eminently wise. Because my night vision is not what it once was, I do hope to minimize night riding, but will of course come prepared for it. For me a regular 4-5 hour sleep will likely keep me going. But we will see….

Thanks for being so generous with your thinking, all of you.

Donna M. Orange

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This is good stuff from PhilW spread across multiple posts. I’ve got multiple successful 1200’s under my belt and this is still a lot of super useful, experience-based, information. Thank you!

Hitting rock bottom and taking my first “ditch nap” was an educational experience for me last year. During what should have been an easy 600K, my ride plans all fell apart (for whatever reasons), my legs died, and my eyelids would not stay open. A 15 min nap sprawled out a bicycle length off the road solved many of my problems and is now a “tool” added to my toolbox.

That’s around the amount of sleep I aim for every 24 hours, about 3-4 hours.

On LEL in 2013, early on day 1, I drank undiluted black currant in error, it played havoc with my digestion and I slowed to a crawl unable to keep anything down. Eventually I crawled into Brampton with my stomach issues not better after another 250-300km of riding. I opted to try an extended sleep and lose most of my time buffer to recover. I slept for 9 hours, and left barely 30 mins ahead of my time limit. But it worked, my stomach began to work again, and by Moffat my full appetite was back. From Edinburgh I flew south catching many who’d been at the turn more than 6 hours ahead of me.

Be prepared to sleep longer and give up your time buffer, if it is what you need to recover. Sometimes the long stop is the right choice.

I finished LEL 13 with a healthy gap ahead of the time limit.

Badger is supposed to be “rugged gravel” I guess rather than actual MTB - apparently a gravel bike with MTB gearing is ideal, although closest I’ve got a rigid 29er MTB so will be on that. Still, 100 miles on the MTB will be a lot. It’s 330k and with the stops I think we are doing 103k-163k-65k. Just booked it last night, been sat in with COVID the last week and going stir crazy.

I did a 100k proper MTB ride in the Peaks during that storm we had the other week - now that was hardcore. Took about 7.5 hours. Riding off the top of the Cat and Fiddle into a 50 mph headwind was comical.

I had planned on doing something like you suggest re: sleep. It’s still going to be hard to know the cumulated effects of 5 days of sub par sleep though - as I said, I have done long rides on little sleep before (and done quite a few hiking events overnight as a teenager), but it’s the 5 days cumulative isn’t it. What I am worried about really is feeling good early on, not sleeping, overreaching, and having more serious issues on day 4 or 5.

What I would do is try and work out what minimum time buffer is, that you will be happy working with on LEL. My rule of thumb on events from 1200km upwards is to aim to be at least 5 hours ahead of my time limit, after I’ve had my sleep. I like to sleep at least 3-4 hours every 24 hours. That means I need to aim to be at least 9 hours ahead (10 hours ahead when I hit the control so have time to eat before sleep) of the time limit when I need to sleep. You may want more of a buffer , you may be happy with less. But work out where you happy buffer is, then try and hold that minimum buffer after each sleep.

There are a few riders who can do multiple 24 hour periods without sleep. I am not one of them. I can manage one 24 hour period with out sleep, but I’ll need to sleep within 36 hours of my last sleep. See @mimod’s post above for micro sleeps, a 15 min, 30 min, 45 min doze can sometimes be enough to remove the dozies if not the fatigue. Enough to get you to the next control for a proper sleep.

Route is out. Looks OK broken into small sections like that…

Also got my start time, 12.15 which is later than I hoped, but never mind.

I don’t think I am being stupid to suggest bag drops at 300 and 600k right? So they’re accessible again at 900 and 1200 (basically, Hessle and Brampton),

Hey Bob,
I got 8:15 but am one of those solo women….now trying to figure out logistics—getting bike from CA to Debden, etc…

Good luck, and thanks for your support. You will probably pass me up on the road!


Donna M. Orange

Those logistics sound a pain! I am having enough logistical issues trying to sort out getting my bike down. Partly since there are not a lot of hotels going near the start/finish on those dates.

Forked out £240 for a premier inn quite near the finish for the Thursday and Friday nights (my wife’s coming down the Thursday and will check in for me - I reckon I could arrive any time between very late on Thursday or some time during the day on Friday… I figure if my time limit is 17:15 Friday, unless I have a really bad time I should be at least a few hours ahead of that…

Perfectly sensible. Bag drops are essentially about having fresh base layers to change into, so you can maintain your comfort through the event. The other things in mine are spare inner tubes. A shower as you change your kit can do wonders for you comfort and mood. Brampton is after Yadd Moss on way north, which is the first high terrain on LEL. Hessle is at the northern end of the Humber suspension bridge which you ride across.

If you go for Premier Inn, London Enfield that is currently £142 for the Friday and Sat night before the event , fully refundable up to 28 days before.

I’ll include airport / hotel logistics this end for @Dorange ’s benefit.

The nearest London airport is London Stansted. A train to near the hotel is between 40-50 mins, the nearest station is 3/4 mile away or it would be about 30 mins by taxi.

From the hotel it is 6.5 miles riding to the start.

I think we will be staying at the same place. Our paths might cross….

Thanks for all of this. I think that is where we are staying too. I’ll fly into Heathrow, then probably pay for that MissBus to get me to the bike shop that will build and check my bike for me. I hope then to find a way to the hotel.

Good point about being mentally tired. In 2017 I couldn’t find my bag at the end, despite them all being laid out in sensible fashion, and then a volunteer found it in about 30 seconds

wow mega kudos! That’s about 186 miles/day!
It would be hard for one day, but to repeat it for 5 days doesn’t bear thinking about.
I guess you have amazing speed and endurance .
From my experience of doing multi day bike packing, you need to be very disciplined about your fuelling and hydration plan.
Avoid eating lots of gels and bars (you will get nausious.) Take some savoury food and check out the route for places you can buy stuff you like.
I used Torq energy drink some of the time but water with a dash of salt is good .
I also took an extra pair of shorts, as I started getting saddle rubs. I had some savlon+ tea tree oil which really helped.
You don’t mention what the sleeping arrangements are?
Are you unsupported and have to bivvy?
I guess training wise you don’t need to overdo it, but just do the odd ride where you are on your bike for 8-12 hours, so your body gets used to coping with that.

I’m sure Amber can give you much more informed advice, but this is what has worked for me.
Do keep us posted on how it goes :smile: :man_biking: :man_biking: :man_biking:

Sleeping is in dormitories at control points. You can do it entirely by eating only at the controls, which is what I did in 2013. There are other ways to skin the cat, such as booking accommodation along the way and buying food from shops as you go, but part of the joy of these internal events is the social aspect of them with riders from over 50 countries.

The first 24 to 36 hours are often ridden without sleep, giving upwards of 18 hours saddle time, with breaks at controls. This depends how fatigued someone is going into the event, with others choosing to sleep the first night. It really is a mix of strategies and tactics, all of which can work, depending on the individual.

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Here’s a chart from the analysis I did from the event data in 2017 (I was one of the event directors in 17). It shows the chances of finishing the event vs. how far ahead of the time limit they were by Thirsk (at 400km / 252 miles) going north.

It demonstrates how significantly the first 24 hours can impact your chances of finishing within the 5 days. But it also demonstrates if you reach Thirsk (Malton at 370km this year) not very far ahead of the time limit, you can still finish, with the right mental attitude and discipline.