London Edinburgh London – MadeGood Films Documentary

Readers of this blog will know that in 2013 I completed Audax UK’s London Edinburgh London ride.  It was a fantastic adventure and you can read about it here

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Summary

As I mentioned in the blog, there was a documentary film crew following several riders, including Steve from Saddleworth Clarion.  The official documentary will go on sale on 1st June 2016 for £7.99.

It’s a great film which really captures the trepidation leading up to it, the excitement of starting the event, and then the slow breakdown that occurs during hundreds of miles of riding with very little sleep.  I’m not on any commission but I’d encourage you to buy it if you are interested in endurance cycling or good documentary film making.  It’s definitely worth a watch if you are planning to ride LEL in 2017. It’s worth a watch if you aren’t. You may even enjoy the small cameo from my good self and Chris – we are available for other cycling related bookings!  Chapeau, MadeGood Films.

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LEL Summary

Ade's Road Cycling BlogI’d spent the best part of 6 months preparing for LEL.  Here’s what went right and what went wrong

  • I used the right bike, despite the minor descending hiccup
  • The months of training in terrible weather were ESSENTIAL to build the mental strength necessary
  • I carried too much kit that I didn’t use
  • I’m never using a crossbar bag again
  • Special kudos to those who rode it alone, especially the foreign contingent.  That takes additional mental strength
  • I hadn’t considered what to do in the case of injury so was forced to think on the fly at a time when I wasn’t thinking straight
  • Big thanks to Chris who got me through some tough sections, and to Steve and Paula for helping me with my knee
  • The B&B, whilst fantastic, was probably a mistake as my legs weren’t the same after that elongated stop
  • The first day was too much – I should have listened to Peter, and not Chris 😉
  • The organisation was impeccable throughout, and the hundreds of volunteers did a fantastic job, allowing us to focus simply on the ride.  Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant and puts all commercial ventures to shame, especially when you consider how cheap it was to enter
  • My knees and legs are shot, my fingertips are numb, my big toes are numb, my arse looks like a World War I battlefield and I haven’t had any feeling in my undercarriage since before the start
  • I’m never doing it again
  • I can’t wait to do it again

Total ride stats

  • Total time taken 104hrs 43mins
  • Total distance 885.4miles in 59hrs 59mins ride time at 14.8mph average
  • 30,846ft of climbing
  • 35,390kcals energy used
  • 114bpm average HR
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Finishers medal

 

LEL Day 5 – Finish Line in Sight!

We were woken at St Ives at 7am to a deserted sleeping hall.  Everyone else had gone!  As we walked out for breakfast, who should be in the queue but Steve.  He literally skipped across the hall towards us, a completely different person to the one we’d left at Kirton.  Apparently he’d slept for a few hours then come across during the night with Mike and a few others.  Chris and I, on the contrary, were still knackered and I was shocked when I went to put my contacts in and couldn’t actually see my eyes as the huge puffy bags around them got in the way.  However, spirits were high because we knew we only had 74 miles to go, and we set off in bright sunshine.  Steve was riding like we had at the start, zooming off up the hills and generally looking like he’d not ridden over 800 miles in 4 days, whereas we were still moving pretty slowly.

The film crew pulled up next to us filming us riding again and Steve punctured!  We checked he had all he needed, and as the crew wanted to film it, we left them to it on the assumption he would catch us up on current form.  The film crew re-appeared and filmed Chris and I for quite a while before disappearing to the finish.

The final control was a small hall in Great Easton.  By now the Garmin was showing 32˚C so we put the bikes in the shade and stopped for our final control.  I had removed my base layer and had my jersey unzipped and was still overheating, but Steve skipped in again wearing legwarmers and overshoes, insisting he was not hot and babbling about how he liked the warm.

We set off again for the final push leaving Steve to refuel.  Promised views over London either didn’t materialise or I was too tired to notice them but it wasn’t long before we were passing the back of the school at Loughton that would be the end of our journey.  I shook Chris’s hand and apart from nearly being wiped out by a transit less than half a mile from the end, we rolled into the finish together, to the sounds of cheers, applause and cowbells.  We were given a nice finishers medal, told there were still 700 riders out on the course, and then we just went to get some food with silly grins on our faces.

I texted Liz to tell her I’d finished and said I’d ring in 10 minutes.  When I called I actually couldn’t speak as I was finally overcome with emotion.  We’d only gone and done it.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog Ade's Road Cycling BlogRide Stats : 74 miles in 5hrs 44mins at 13mph average.  2827ft ascent, 3105kcals used.  Average HR 109bpm

Strava ride here 

 

LEL Day 4 – Limping Along

The B&B at Thirsk had been a psychological crutch for us as long as we’d been talking about LEL.  It would be at 1000km meaning we were well on the way to the finish, and would provide a much needed boost of hot shower and comfortable bed.  We had arrived at Meadowcroft at 10-30pm.  After a short while sorting my kit out, I showered and was dead to the world by 11pm.  We’d decided on a bit of a lie-in so would meet for breakfast at 7-15am.  I awoke at 6-50am feeling both refreshed but concerned.  My legs had gone into recovery mode and the muscles were stiff and sore.  Both knees were also stiff and it was painful to walk downstairs to a marvellous cooked breakfast.

I removed my crossbar bag and dosed myself up on Nurofen, we met Steve who had stayed at a nearby hotel, and were ready for the road at 8am.  The ride to Pocklington took us back over the Howardian hills although this time it wasn’t in the dark.  The roads were narrow and poorly surfaced in many places, and the countryside was very pleasing to the eye.  We couldn’t believe that we’d smashed through it in the dark because with hindsight, we’d been very lucky to do so without incident.  We were all very stiff so were moving quite slowly.  My right knee wasn’t troubling me so I was quite relieved, although my left knee was sore as it was doubtless not used to taking so much of the load as it had. What was a real problem was my backside.  No amount of shuffling about could get me comfortable.  It meant I was riding a hundred yards then standing up on the pedals or fidgeting to a position that didn’t hurt.  Steve looked in better nick than us, spinning quickly up the hills ahead, only getting caught by us as we descended quicker.

By now I was counting down the miles between controls.  I was at that point where mentally I could only function by breaking things down into ever smaller chunks.  Every so often someone would crack a joke or say something that seemed disproportionally funnier than it actually was, but we were getting quieter and quieter.

We rolled through Pocklington and then over the Humber Bridge again and into Market Rasen.  By now it was 4-30pm, and we’d seen sunshine and showers.  The wind was also against us.  We stopped at a pharmacy.

“Where’s your moisturising cream?” asked Chris.

“Is it for your face?” replied the lady pharmacist.

“Erm, let’s just go with yes,” came the reply

Anyway, stocked up on cream for our bums, we arrived at the control.  We concluded it might take 3 to 4 hours to get to Kirton and of course, when we set off it started raining.  And I punctured.  Then didn’t find the tiniest bit of flint in the tyre so ruined the tube.  There is nothing quite so demoralising as changing a puncture in the rain, when you are behind schedule.

I’m not quite sure where it was but at one control we were interviewed by the film crew.  At the time I didn’t really know who I was, where I was or what day or time it was, so I can only conclude that I babbled incoherently.  As did Chris.  I will apologise now if that somehow ends up in the final edit and I look like a right tw*t.

We arrived at Kirton at 9-30pm.  Chris and I resolved to continue to St Ives as per the plan but Steve’s earlier energy had gone.  He was completely shot, and not really functioning properly so made the right decision and managed to book a bed just in time, as more and more riders were coming in looking spent.  Very quickly the control ran out of beds.

We set off across the Fens in the dark and were soon alone on featureless flat roads riding into a headwind.  The only thing that was visible were our lights.  We’d passed a couple of riders early on and left them behind.  The stars stood out dramatically against the coal-black sky with no light pollution to diminish their brilliance, and it was completely quiet, save for the whirring of wheels on tarmac.  Occasionally we’d make reference to the inappropriate joke we’d made on the way north and dissolve into fits of giggles, but we settled into silence as we struggled on.  The miles were counting down demoralisingly slowly and we seemed to be going slower and slower.  On the way north a gentle caress of the pedals had seen us riding at over 20mph.  Here we were grinding it out relentlessly to make 13mph, the bravado a distant memory.

We literally fell into St Ives at around 2:50am and joined a bunch of cyclists sleeping in the hall, shadowy husks of the men that had set off only a few days earlier.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Garmin went a bit funny near the end!

Ride Stats : 187 miles in 14hrs 19mins at 13.1mph average.  5267ft ascent, 7300kcals used.  Average HR 105bpm

Strava ride here

LEL Day 3 – Depths of Despair

After a deep 4 hour sleep we were eating breakfast in Edinburgh at 4am looking like Albert Steptoe’s less glamorous brothers.  In complete contrast, there was an Italian girl and a Greek girl who both looked like they’d just stepped off the pages of a cycling magazine kit advert.  Where we were stumbling about trying to put damp bits of smelly kit back on, they were adjusting their lipstick.

The route back south took a detour out of Edinburgh and we were on the road at 5am.  I had dosed up on Nurofen, and had applied some freezing ibuprofen gel that Paula had supplied.  My knee was still painful so I was pedalling one-legged – only pushing power through on my left leg.  As I am naturally a “rightie” my left leg is a lot weaker and it was already starting to ache with the additional effort I was loading onto it.

There was a beautiful climb out of Edinburgh and then a descent through a lovely valley into the control at Traquair.  The skies were clear and the sun was coming up but the air was cold.  We didn’t feel it on the climb but the descent through the valley was really cold.  Our fingers and toes were freezing as we rode down the valley – the Garmin was indicating 7˚C.  It’s easy to understand how people in the bad storms of 2009 were coming down with hypothermia.  My bike was playing up again, which meant I had to turn the pedals on the descent.  That meant I was able to rest my knee and just added to my sense of foreboding.  In addition, my saddle sores were now really painful, meaning I couldn’t sit in the same position for very long at all.  In fact I was fidgeting constantly trying to ease the discomfort.  This in turn meant I was slightly twisting my knees, everything simply compounding the problems.  I tried to focus on the company and the scenery to lift my spirits.  A snaking river through the valley was punctuated by views of the pine forests to come.  We really do live in a beautiful country but I was in no mood to mess about in my saddlebag and get the camera out, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

We arrived at the control at Traquair shivering!  The small village hall housed a small team of cheery volunteers and we went inside where I had the best porridge I have ever tasted.  I also had a fabulous piece of cake that was apparently made by the guy who made Madonna’s wedding cake!

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Fantastic cake!

The ride from Traquair to Eskdalemuir took us through the pine forests and up and down some brilliant roads.  However I was distracted by my dark thoughts and I was desperately trying t o shake myself out of it.  Dosed up on Nurofen my knee hurt less but I didn’t dare push power through it.  I was thinking only of the next control now, trying to break the ride down into “short” jumps between controls.  My speed had dropped dramatically, and as such my HR had similarly dropped.  In my head I had the psychological goal of the B&B we’d booked at Thirsk as my target.  That would be 1000km, a shower and good nights sleep, and hopefully an improvement in my knee.  I was a bit nervous about having to get back over Yad Moss though.  Chris was constantly on the front nursing me through it, with Steve doing odd turns as well.  Adding to my downbeat mood was the thought I wasn’t pulling my weight and slowing them down.

As we passed the Buddhist temple I knew we were close to Eskdalemuir.  I hoped to see Peter Bond there as he was volunteering, so I could tell him how right he was about being stupid on the first day, but his shift hadn’t started.

The route rejoined the northern route somewhere near Longtown and we headed south down the roads we’d travelled north on a lifetime earlier.  We saw a couple of riders still coming north but not as many as I imagined.  My knee was seriously painful now and I couldn’t keep up with the guys and starting to drop behind.   They slowed to help me to the next control at Brampton.  We kept seeing the same riders over and over.  A group of four Swedes always arrived at the controls around 5 minutes behind us, the Italian and Greek girls, some lads from the UK, and we’d seen Mike Tattershall too.  At Brampton, Paula arrived with a support for my knee, which I put on after having a short massage to see if that helped.  The chap doing the massages was blind and I chatted to him about his guide dog, who was sat patiently at the side of the table.  Apparently she was very similar to Barney (food thief!) until she got her harness on when she became a model guide dog.

We then set off towards Yad Moss.  I was dosed up, knee gel and brace on and it was getting worse.  It hadn’t hurt off the bike at all, and didn’t hurt to the touch.  But as I prodded it through the support a shooting pain shot through my leg causing me to wince.  At the bottom of Yad Moss is a fairly steep cobbled section through a village.  I set about it in 34-28 gear one-legged.  Dispiritingly my Garmin, set to auto-stop at 3.2mph, kept auto-stopping as I was moving that slowly.  A huge logging HGV ground up the cobbles next to me forcing me into the worst bits at the edge of the road.  For the first time I was angry – what the hell was that doing on a road like this?  The cobbles gave way to road and shallower gradient and I tried to settle into a rhythm.  My saddle sores made that almost impossible and each time my right knee went through the pedal stroke a bolt of pain shot through me.  I had over 300 miles to go.  Thoughts running through my head were of the people who had dug deep to sponsor me.  Hundreds of people had given to the cause, KidsCan, that I was trying to support.  My family had supported me through months of training.  I’d spent hundreds of hours in all sorts of weather.  I felt like I was letting each of them down individually, as well as myself because I don’t give up, but as the tears welled up I realised I couldn’t deal with this amount of pain for 300 more miles.  Each turn was like a knife being stabbed into my knee, and I was grinding slower and slower.  My mind was whizzing along about how I could face people, how I could get home.  I don’t know what it was that made me prod my knee once more and realise that the pain was on the joint, and not inside the knee.  I ripped the support off, concluding that if it was the joint compressing it together would only make it worse.  The relief was immediate – albeit still painful but at a level that I knew I could deal with.  I also thought I knew what had caused the joint problem.  I had a Topeak Fueltank bag on my crossbar, and it sagged ever so slightly to the right hand side.  Over the course of the ride it had imperceptibly caused me to splay my right leg slightly outwards on each pedal stroke, which I assumed had caused the problem.  I’d had the same issue a couple of years earlier with a wider crossbar bag, and assumed this one wouldn’t because it was narrower.  My spirits lifted and I continued on up the relentless climb, still fidgeting away in the saddle to try to ease the other pain I was feeling in my backside.  I passed a guy on a recumbent struggling up, and Chris caught me near the top and launched himself down the other side, with me trailing in his wake.  Near the bottom I saw a bike propped against a tree, with an audaxer asleep in the field behind it.  I was incredibly relieved to get into Barnard Castle control because I now knew I could keep the pain under control and complete the ride, albeit very slowly.

In Barnard Castle Paula was waiting looking very concerned about Steve.  He’d been riding behind us with Mike Tattershall, and had phoned her to say he didn’t know where he was and was in a field.  We said he’d been fine and only minutes behind us so were very perplexed.  And so it was – he turned up not long after.  Apparently the phone call had been about Mike – who needed a brief rest/kip to get himself back on an even keel, and Steve was fine.  Chris phoned the B&B in Thirsk and advised we’d arrive about 10-30pm.

There was to be no blast through the dark into Thirsk this day – although it was mainly downhill we covered the 41 miles at about 14.5mph, joined by a nice chap from Ireland who did take his turn on the front, unlike many others!  It started to get cold again, with the odd spot of rain.  At Thirsk the Irishman continued on to Pocklington where we walked across the road to the B&B we’d booked – The Meadowcroft.  Both Chris and I looked an absolute state, in the same clothes we’d been in for 2 days, but Sue and Simon welcomed us in with open arms.  I hope we didn’t come across as rude because we were both exhausted and just wanted a shower and bed.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog Ade's Road Cycling BlogRide stats: 185 miles in 13hrs 28mins at 13.7mph average.  9035ft climbing, 7661kcals energy used.  Average HR 112bpm

Strava ride here

LEL Day 2 – Dark Clouds Gathering

After a broken 4 hours of sleep it’s fair to say I wasn’t raring to go when the volunteer at Thirsk shook me awake at 5am.  The first disappointment of the organisation was that there wasn’t a proper breakfast as the chef wasn’t due in until 6am.  However, the girls behind the counter did us proud by rustling up some beans on toast, which along with coffee helped spark some life into us.  However the short(ish) hop to Barnard Castle was pretty bad as we were lethargic and our legs just weren’t there.  It was also chucking it down, the soggy kit just adding to the downturn in mood.  I was starting to regret the exertions of the first day but took solace from the fact that I could blame Chris entirely for it.  Likewise he was apportioning 100% of the blame to me – either way it made us feel slightly better.

After a second (better) breakfast at Barnard Castle we also had a bag drop waiting for us.  I changed my clothing.  Disappointingly, my club bibshorts had caused the start of saddle sores whereas Chris in Assos kit was fine.  You get what you pay for basically but this would cause me problems for the rest of the ride.  We set off on the next leg which was the start of 25 miles essentially going uphill, and would take us up and over Yad Moss.  This is not a steep hill but it goes on and on and on.  As we went up it I left Steve and Chris behind and spun my way up.  I started to feel a bit of a twinge in my right knee which nagged away as I carried on uphill.  I put it down to the exertions and put it to the back of my mind.  The scenery up the hill was lovely but it was exposed and although the wind was behind and across us, it was still a bit blustery at times.  Each time I thought I’d reached the top it was a false flat and would start up again.  Eventually, I made it to the peak and stopped to eat an energy bar and wait for the guys.  My knee was aching now and I just hoped it would stop.

It was now virtually all downhill for 40 miles, which would take us through the Brampton control and as far as Gretna where we would start a gentle climb to Moffat.  The roads here are quite odd, running side by side with the A74(M), and fairly quiet apart from the odd enormous logging HGV going by.  We’d left Steve at a control to be interviewed again and decided to stop at the garage to wait for him.  We took it in turns to keep lookout but neither of us saw him and after a while decided to push on.  My knee was seriously hurting now – each pedal stroke was painful and as I arrived at Moffat I was mentally wondering how I was going to manage 500 miles more.  Chris was on the front virtually all the time now because I couldn’t put any power through.  I was starting to doubt my ability to finish.

At Moffat my sister Amelia and nephew Lennon were waiting to cheer us in.  After an all-too-brief chat we went inside, and found Steve!  An epic fail on the lookout front, he’d cycled right past us at the garage.  Paula was there and gave me some advice about painkillers so I popped some ibuprofen and we set off.  The climb out of Moffat is lovely – up the curiously named Devil’s Beeftub!  Apparently it is named after the Johnstone clan (referred to by their enemies as devils) used it to hide stolen cattle.  It’s one of those climbs that has stunning views but is also a perfect gradient for spinning up.  My spirits were lifted somewhat when I realised that I could spin up it using only my left leg for power.  I might be able to complete this ride after all, albeit one-legged!  The guys were riding some distance behind me, being filmed by the crew in a car as they climbed.  The descent is also fantastic, with about 15 miles of decent downhill/fast road.  The weather had cooled dramatically and it rained on and off.  As we descended my bike started making a horrible grinding, shuddering noise.  Each time I braked it and slowed it would stop.  Then would start again.  I checked brakes, mudguards and there was nothing catching.  I eliminated bottom bracket as it happened only when not pedalling.  Eventually we narrowed it down to the freehub, as I could stop it happening by turning the pedals forward – backwards would make the noise even louder.  Mentally this just added more stress to my already despondent demeanour.  I had trained hard for this, but at no point considered that injury would scupper me.

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View from Devil’s Beeftub

We cycled through a flooded road (great, wet feet again!) and I pretty much limped into Edinburgh.  On day 1 we’d been well ahead of schedule.  Due to my maximum speed dropping dramatically, we were hours behind in Edinburgh.

We asked for a 4am wakeup call in order to gain some time back.  I slept much better but was worried what the following day would bring.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog Ade's Road Cycling BlogRide stats : 190 miles in 12hrs 31mins at 15.2mph.  8251ft of climbing.  7677kcals energy used, average HR 117bpm.

Strava ride here

 

LEL Day 1 – Going Mad on the First Day

Ade's Road Cycling BlogIn 2010, Anthony and I had been introduced to audaxing, and in 2011 we heard about something called Paris Brest Paris, which took place every 4 years, with an event running in that year.  It was too soon for us to even consider, but we found out about the British equivalent – London Edinburgh London – and 2013, although ages away, seemed like a good target.  In May of 2012, the test website was published and it started to become real.  In January, when places were opened for entry, 1000 sold out in hours.  Luckily, one of those was mine, and training began in earnest.

On February 17th of this year, I rolled into Kirkby Lonsdale on the Northwest Passage audax and bumped into Peter Bond outside the cafe.  Talk turned to training and LEL, and Peter informed me he wasn’t riding it but would probably volunteer instead.

“You’ll be fine on LEL Ade,” he said, “but as it’s your first one the adrenaline will be flowing, so don’t go mad on the first day.”

Ade's Road Cycling BlogWe registered on the Saturday – a slick affair that took all of 30 seconds and a pre-cursor for the military-like precision that would be a feature of the event throughout.  In the hotel that night an explosion of thunder was perhaps a portent of what was to come, but no, at 6am the following morning the sun was shining and we were favoured with a southerly tailwind.  I think that was the only weather condition we hadn’t trained for!

And so off we went.  Like the clappers.  In fact we went a bit mad.  First control, St Ives at 61 miles, in 3 1/2 hours.  The sun was out, legs felt great and the tailwind helped push us along.  I can’t remember much about the countryside, other than it was typical English chocolate-box village scenery.  Up and down over rolling roads, we were flying.  There were all sorts of bikes out – from carbon racing bikes to velomobiles, which are like bullets when they get going but struggle on any kind of incline.

Ade's Road Cycling BlogThere were 33 countries represented in the 1000 riders starting, and a nice touch was that our rider number plates had our names and countries printed on them.  There were plenty of local riders however.  We chatted for a while with a nice guy from Barnsley, but also managed to pick up plenty of wheelsuckers on the way too.  One guy had no map, no route sheet and no Garmin, and basically sat on our wheels for the best part of 30 miles from St Ives to Kirton, despite our best attempts to drop him.

The journey across the Fens was pan flat and actually pretty boring.  Long, straight roads that had us wishing for turns or junctions.  At one point we came across two cars just stopped in the road, with a guy lay between them talking to 2 cyclists who had stopped.  They asked if we were doctors, then waved us on when they found out we weren’t.  In reality it turned out he’d had some sort of panic attack but Chris’s theory, which I can’t repeat here, caused much hilarity for the next 10 miles, and in fact, throughout the rest of the ride.

On and on we rode, ticking off controls and getting into a routine.  At each control there would be a volunteer guiding you in.  A manned bike park to leave your bike against (with mechanic if needed) and then check into the control, where the website would be updated and our brevet cards were stamped.  Then some fantastic food, fill the bottles and hit the road again.  Steve was riding at his own pace but we saw him at every control, often with his film crew in tow, who were interviewing him for a film to be completed next year.

We continued on, pushed along by the tailwind and our exuberance.  Riders would come and go, getting a tow and then being dropped. Just after Market Rasen Chris told me our average speed for 160 miles – 18.9mph.  At the back of my mind a thought occurred that we would regret it but we continued driving on, with our ultimate aim of completing 400km (250miles) by the end of the day.  The terrain had also changed.  Across the Fens we covered 62 miles and the elevation went up by 38ft!  It was that flat – but that takes it out of you as there is no freewheeling time at all.  Just outside Market Rasen we were hit by a massive downpour, which triggered flash floods that made cycling on the pavement a necessity as there was a torrent flowing down the roads.  However, it soon blew over and we reached the Humber and got to ride the mile or so across the Humber Suspension Bridge.  When I rode LEJOG I crossed the Forth Road Bridge and didn’t like it because of the height.  This wasn’t so bad but still I didn’t hang around.

We reached Pocklington at 8:10pm against our target of 9pm.  Many people were stopping there for the night but we put our lights on and headed out into the North Yorkshire countryside with a target of Thirsk.  Steve was with us at this point and unfortunately punctured just as the light was fading.  A quick stop to change the tube and we were off again.  As we were falling behind I pushed the pace as the light ebbed away completely.  We picked off lots of riders and they picked up our wheels as we weaved in and out of now pitch-black country lanes, heading up and up as we went over the Howardian Hills.  Looking back I could see a snaking trail of flickering lights behind me.  Faster and harder I rode, determined to get us to Thirsk as quickly as possible.  Hills came out of nowhere in the blackness, the silence punctuated only by the clunking of gears dropping and breathing rasping, followed by descents on dodgy English roads, with me trying to pick out potholes and gravel and shout warnings as we clattered along.  Not only was it physically exerting and technical riding, the levels of concentration needed made it mentally tough.  By the time we saw the welcome sight of Thirsk control I was exhausted.

We locked the bikes, ate some food and booked beds and a wakeup call.  The sleeping area was a large hall, with air matresses laid out in a grid – each with a blanket.  Some idiots were already in our booked beds so we went and got new ones.  Earplugs in and I lay down for hopefully 4 hours sleep.  First day done!

Ade's Road Cycling BlogAde's Road Cycling Blog

Ride stats: 249 miles in 13hrs 56m at 17.9mph average.  5466ft ascent, 9627kcals used.  Average HR 125bpm

Strava ride here

 

Bike Ready and Rider Tracking

Ade's Road Cycling BlogHere’s the bike loaded and ready.  At the back is a Carradice Barley saddlebag, and on the crossbar is a Topeak Fuel Tank.  This gives me about 8 litres of storage which is enough as we are travelling extremely lightly.  I’ve 3 lights at the front which should pump out about 500 lumens at full power, and more importantly run on disposable batteries that I can replace at the bag drops.  The mudguards (front one not on yet) are clip-on SKS race blades.

Touch-wood it (and me) all hangs together!

If you are interested, there is rudimentary rider tracking (updated at each control) at the following link

Track Ade – Rider Number B24

 

£2000 for @KidsCan_UK!!!

Ade's Road Cycling Blog
What a brilliant morale boost just before we start LEL.  Thanks to the generosity of my colleagues at Steria my sponsorship total has just rolled over £2,000!  On top of that there’s a further £400 of gift-aid.  It’s fair to say I’m pretty chuffed, and I’ll do my best to do everyone that sponsored me proud.

LEL Route Plan

Well, the start draws ever-closer and I get ever more nervous.  Have I packed enough “stuff”?  Will my legs hold out? Will my bike hold out? Will I cope with limited sleep?  Anyway, in order to try to bring some semblance of control to the many variables we have a broad ride plan.  I’ve described it here in this post.

Day 1 – Loughton to Thirsk

  • Planned mileage – 249m
  • Planned ascent – 5,435ft

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The grand depart from Loughton.  We are part of the 6am wave of some 70 riders leaving London and heading north.  The route snakes to the west of Cambridge, and East of Huntingdon and Peterborough, past Boston at lunchtime and into Lincolnshire until we cross the Humber Bridge and skirt the suburbs of Hull.  If we are on schedule we might cross the Humber around twilight, which might make for an interesting view, before we push on past York and ride the final 50 miles or so with lights on, targeting an arrival in Thirsk at sometime just after midnight.  It’s a long day, but it is relatively flat, so if the wind is kind we should make good progress.  Hopefully we’ll get at least 4 good hours sleep.

Day 2 –Thirsk to Edinburgh

  • Planned mileage – 189m
  • Planned ascent – 6,782ft

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We plan to be on the road around 6-30am, and we head north-west from Thirsk, diagonally across towards Carlisle.  This section has the biggest climb on the ride – the ascent of Yad Moss.  It isn’t particularly steep, but is a bit relentless, meaning we will essentially be going upwards for around 40km.  The flip-side of that is that we’ll then enjoy a similar distance descending.  We’ll pass through Longtown and Gretna (as I did in 2010 when riding LEJOG and again in 2011 riding to Stirling) and then Lockerbie and Moffat between 5pm and 6pm.  We then follow the River Tweed valley for a while on the A701, heading into Edinburgh and hoping to arrive before 10pm.  The target again is a good 4 or 5 hours sleep.

Day 3 Edinburgh to Thirsk

  • Planned mileage – 184m
  • Planned ascent – 7,836ft

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The biggest day in terms of ascent, it still remains relatively flat given the distance travelled.  Setting off before 4am, we follow a different route until Longtown, when we essentially retrace the northern route back to London.  To get to Longtown we head down to the east of Peebles, through Innerleithen and through the Ettrick Forest Park to Langholm and Canonbie.  We hope to be back in England between 10am and 11am.  We retrace our steps to Thirsk hoping to arrive in early evening, where we have a B&B booked to get a full night’s sleep.  Ideally, we will be checking in there before 9pm, allowing at least a good 8 hours sleep before hitting the road again at 7am the following morning.

Day 4 Thirsk to St Ives

  • Planned mileage – 187m
  • Planned ascent – 3,655ft

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Given the prevailing wind in the UK, it’s likely that we will now face a headwind for the rest of the ride, so thankfully the main hills are behind us at this point.  And, if we have set off at 7am, it means we have time in the bag should it be a bit of a struggle (which it will be by now, I’m sure!)  We should see lunch at Market Rasen, tea at Kirton and arrival at St Ives by 9pm hopefully.  That leaves us with 118km to the finish.

Day 5 St Ives to Loughton

  • Planned mileage – 74m
  • Planned ascent – 2,145ft

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If we get 4 or 5 hours sleep, we’ll be back on the road around 3am.  The plan then would be to arrive back at the start in time for breakfast at 9am.  That gives us around 16 hours in hand to deal with poor weather, mechanicals or any other issue.

Of course, it may all go horribly wrong at any point, so let’s see what actually happens!  Wish me luck!