How do people do the LEL?

oreo_muncher

Senior Member
I watched a documentary about people doing the LEL on amazon prime and I just don't know how people do it! People on cycle chat who have done the LEL- how did you prepare and for how long? What was your strategy for completing it during the ride? How did things work with sleep- how many hours were you sleeping and what was your riding schedule like? How was the food situation for you? How many hours at a time were you riding and what was your average speed like? What did you use to navigate it? 😅:shy:Sorry if I asked a lot of questions...
 

DCLane

Found in the Yorkshire hills ...
Everyone's different; some take it steady and sleep at night, only eating at the controls. Others, like me, keep going and hardly sleep eating constantly on the move: I slept less than 5 hours and in some controls hardly stopped. To navigate I used a basic Garmin 200 connected to a power bank with a single track line to follow. It worked fine for PBP and LEL except outside Longtown where I missed the turn to Gretna and went part-way to Eskdalemuir before realising I'd gone wrong. My records here: https://www.strava.com/activities/1116993799

Preparation was a 200/300/400/750 that year with a 600 a year before, although the 750 was far too close to LEL due to work and weather constraints being 2 weeks beforehand rather than the originally planned 8 weeks.

I had a time plan on an A6 clipboard which told me what I had planned originally at each control plus target timings based upon a 96 hour plan - came in 3 hours slower although I did flip-flop around the target times a bit (on PBP I had a 74 hour target but came in at 68). Also using the bag drops going north and south to re-stock batteries, change clothes and collect snacks helped. There's always food - whether carried, picked up at a control or bought en route.
 
Last edited:

Tigerbiten

Veteran
I've never done a long audex, my knee joints don't let me cycle that far in one go.
But I have done long multi month tours.
If I'm going to tour in the summer, I'll start getting myself fit in january, I'll be half fit when when I set out in April and fully fit halfway through the tour in july.
So you plan to build your fitness up to it over roughly 6 month or more.

With sleeping you learn what your body can cope with.
Working two jobs, I found I could just get by with only 5 hours sleep a night.
So on a long audax the faster you go then the more energy you expend but the longer you have to stop.
So you set off with a plan to balance the two.
If I cycle for X hours covering Y miles then that will let me power nap for Z hours.
How well that plan works depend on thing like the weather, mechanicals, pain, .........
You also learn by trial and error, if you fall asleep while cycling then you're pushed on for to long ........ :laugh:

Luck ............ ^_^
 

Ajax Bay

Guru
Location
East Devon
How did you prepare and for how long? What was your strategy for completing it during the ride? How did things work with sleep- how many hours were you sleeping and what was your riding schedule like? How was the food situation for you? How many hours at a time were you riding and what was your average speed like? What did you use to navigate it?
Prep: Rides in the March-July months before: 200s, 300, 400, 600 (BCM), Mille Pennines and a 200 a few weeks before. 6243km in 2017, before the start, and average length of ride Jan-Jul 2017 = 151km (41 rides recorded).
Strategy: Ride 310km a day and finish off last day with 180km. Booked Travelodge bed near Hull for first night (to avoid control/gym congestion which had been a reported 'challenge' in 2013) - I booked this in mid-Jan, as soon as I had got an entry. Aim for 100 hour finish though starting in 117 hour start slot.
Sleep: Planned 5 hours a night and achieved that nights 1 (Hull) and 2 (Moffat). Had 6 at Alston (YH bed) on night 3 and 6 at Louth.
Food: The superb choices of food - I was well ahead of the 'bulge' - meant I probably ate more than I ought (ie I mean I ate at every control, not that I ate double helpings). Did wish that breakfasty stuff had been available at Moffat but was told that the chef's plan was: breakfast (porridge) started at 5 - up till then stew and potatoes (or whatever) - and he could not be persuaded by the Control controller that long distance riders might be looking to break fast at 4 to be away v early. I had stew. Otherwise I carried an on-the-go bag of salted and peppered cashews, combined with raisins, broken cookies and cut-up flapjack bars, with bananas when bought. Replenished this at my bag-drops (Louth and Moffat)
Speed and hours riding: Took 106 hours for 1400+km. Maybe 63 hours rolling (start to finish days of 14/17/15/16/17).
Navigation: Prepared strip maps (from road atlas sheets) with the intended (and where different the suggested) route highlighted. List of villages/places/towns with kilometerages. Considerable (!!) route preparation in the months beforehand using GoogleSV. Keen people create and e-share accurate routecards for each leg but I carried these rather than use them. Actual ride: View: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/16791658

HTH
 

Ming the Merciless

Formerly YukonBoy
Location
Inside my skull
I rode LEL in 2013 and it was my first big one. I’ve done big ones every year since, and refined things, but I’ll just cover what I did first time round.

I rode an SR series of 200km, 300km, 400km, 600km. My first time riding anything longer than 200km. This was over the period March 2013 to June 2013. These allowed me to hone my equipment , setup, and confidence in night riding. The 600km built confidence of getting back on the bike after a short sleep. July I went to the Alps for a two week walk round some mountain huts. Other than commuting I didn’t ride my bike.

Other than the SR I just did my five days a week commute, which is was 40km daily. Then I’d do one longer ride at weekend but nothing longer than 100km if that.

My strategy was as simple as aiming to have at least 3 hours contingency after each sleep. I didn’t have a detailed set of times and schedules. It’s not necessary. So I’d get to a control, look at how far ahead of the time limit I was, and manage my stopped time to keep on top of it. At each control I’d judge whether I needed to sleep or could make next control before it’d become necessary. I’d keep moving forward as long as I didn’t need sleep. I paid no heed to daylight or darkness I’d be riding until sleep became necessary. I ate at the controls. There was always a range of food and different each control. I’d choose when I got there as you wouldn’t know in advance.

I choose my bag drop locations based on terrain. So I had clothes changes before / after the more remote and hillier terrain of the north.

Overall min speed is 12 km/h. So as long as you keep on top of not stopping too long at controls you are not sleeping at. It all works out. So at a control you should be either eating, filling up water bottles, going to toilet, having a shower, or sleeping. If you are doing anything else consider getting moving again.
 

Ming the Merciless

Formerly YukonBoy
Location
Inside my skull
Past two editions of LEL there has always been a stonking tail wind on day 1 then a stonking headwind in the fens when riders were returning. So always make use of any weather conditions that present themselves.

Stonking tailwind, keep riding, don’t decide to stop early for the night because you’ve made good progress against any plan. Assume you’ll lose time through the fens on your return. So ride north with that in mind.

Stonking headwind , is it due to ease overnight? Are you tired enough to sleep? Sleep early then ride through the night when winds are lighter.
 
Don't think I can add anything to the above as I did the same for LEL 2013 (I volunteered for 2017) just ride a lot and do a Super Randonneur (200,300,400 and 600 audax ) in the months leading up to it plus general riding also have a look round on the web for any blogs or ride reports on LEL to see if you can pick up any tips from others preparation or training strategy .
 
OP
oreo_muncher

oreo_muncher

Senior Member
Everyone's different; some take it steady and sleep at night, only eating at the controls. Others, like me, keep going and hardly sleep eating constantly on the move: I slept less than 5 hours and in some controls hardly stopped. To navigate I used a basic Garmin 200 connected to a power bank with a single track line to follow. It worked fine for PBP and LEL except outside Longtown where I missed the turn to Gretna and went part-way to Eskdalemuir before realising I'd gone wrong. My records here: https://www.strava.com/activities/1116993799

Preparation was a 200/300/400/750 that year with a 600 a year before, although the 750 was far too close to LEL due to work and weather constraints being 2 weeks beforehand rather than the originally planned 8 weeks.

I had a time plan on an A6 clipboard which told me what I had planned originally at each control plus target timings based upon a 96 hour plan - came in 3 hours slower although I did flip-flop around the target times a bit (on PBP I had a 74 hour target but came in at 68). Also using the bag drops going north and south to re-stock batteries, change clothes and collect snacks helped. There's always food - whether carried, picked up at a control or bought en route.
How often did you eat when you were riding and what foods? How hard was it for your body to adjust to be able to do those sorts of distances, does it ever get easier? Forgot to ask but did you experience any mechanical problems during and how often would you pump your tyres? How does the bag drop off system work exactly? Do you just send stuff to 2 control points e.g. Spare clothes and it's there waiting for you when you get there?
 
OP
oreo_muncher

oreo_muncher

Senior Member
I've never done a long audex, my knee joints don't let me cycle that far in one go.
But I have done long multi month tours.
If I'm going to tour in the summer, I'll start getting myself fit in january, I'll be half fit when when I set out in April and fully fit halfway through the tour in july.
So you plan to build your fitness up to it over roughly 6 month or more.

With sleeping you learn what your body can cope with.
Working two jobs, I found I could just get by with only 5 hours sleep a night.
So on a long audax the faster you go then the more energy you expend but the longer you have to stop.
So you set off with a plan to balance the two.
If I cycle for X hours covering Y miles then that will let me power nap for Z hours.
How well that plan works depend on thing like the weather, mechanicals, pain, .........
You also learn by trial and error, if you fall asleep while cycling then you're pushed on for to long ........ :laugh:

Luck ............ ^_^
So I should do those longer audaxes as prep 300km+ to see how my body copes and when it needs to sleep?
 
OP
oreo_muncher

oreo_muncher

Senior Member
Prep: Rides in the March-July months before: 200s, 300, 400, 600 (BCM), Mille Pennines and a 200 a few weeks before. 6243km in 2017, before the start, and average length of ride Jan-Jul 2017 = 151km (41 rides recorded).
Strategy: Ride 310km a day and finish off last day with 180km. Booked Travelodge bed near Hull for first night (to avoid control/gym congestion which had been a reported 'challenge' in 2013) - I booked this in mid-Jan, as soon as I had got an entry. Aim for 100 hour finish though starting in 117 hour start slot.
Sleep: Planned 5 hours a night and achieved that nights 1 (Hull) and 2 (Moffat). Had 6 at Alston (YH bed) on night 3 and 6 at Louth.
Food: The superb choices of food - I was well ahead of the 'bulge' - meant I probably ate more than I ought (ie I mean I ate at every control, not that I ate double helpings). Did wish that breakfasty stuff had been available at Moffat but was told that the chef's plan was: breakfast (porridge) started at 5 - up till then stew and potatoes (or whatever) - and he could not be persuaded by the Control controller that long distance riders might be looking to break fast at 4 to be away v early. I had stew. Otherwise I carried an on-the-go bag of salted and peppered cashews, combined with raisins, broken cookies and cut-up flapjack bars, with bananas when bought. Replenished this at my bag-drops (Louth and Moffat)
Speed and hours riding: Took 106 hours for 1400+km. Maybe 63 hours rolling (start to finish days of 14/17/15/16/17).
Navigation: Prepared strip maps (from road atlas sheets) with the intended (and where different the suggested) route highlighted. List of villages/places/towns with kilometerages. Considerable (!!) route preparation in the months beforehand using GoogleSV. Keen people create and e-share accurate routecards for each leg but I carried these rather than use them. Actual ride: View: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/16791658

HTH
Your strategy is completely different compared to the other people with your pro sleep attitude :biggrin: it's good you managed to get 5-6 hours a night. Before your march to July prep what sort of long distances were you used to? Your average speed is quite good with all the accumulated fatigue you probably had from all these rides. So did you use a piece of paper with all the listed places and km? Or did you use any GPS or navigating tool? Did you ride much in the night or did you mostly do the riding in the day and sleep at night? Also when you were riding at what points would you stop for breaks and for how long? How often did you eat?
 

Ajax Bay

Guru
Location
East Devon
How often did you eat when you were riding and what foods? How hard was it for your body to adjust to be able to do those sorts of distances, does it ever get easier? Forgot to ask but did you experience any mechanical problems during and how often would you pump your tyres? How does the bag drop off system work exactly? Do you just send stuff to 2 control points e.g. Spare clothes and it's there waiting for you when you get there?
Food: Ate a meal at every control (except the first), sometimes two (at Moffat - night 2, and Louth - night 4). Range of options offered including for minority diet limiters.
Training: What do you mean by 'body adjust to ride long distances'? Get out and ride. Work up to a thousand km a month (in the penultimate month). Can you ride 50 miles? Yes? Then you can ride 100km. etc Need to 'learn' to ride for a few hours in the dark. Need to learn not to faff.
Mechanical: No mechanicals for me but various for others, some ride ending (eg 'plastic' seat post snapped off at Thirsk). Brief check of tyres at Edinburgh (breakfast Day 3). I have had a FD gear cable part at 100km into a 600. I adjusted the FD into the middle ring and rode on to a town with a bike shop, bought a cable, fitted it, and rode on. Everyone gets punctures occasionally: tyre removal, checking cause, tube replacement and reinflation takes little time, in the scheme of things.
Bag drop: One can choose the locations for two separate bags (supplied, volume about 7 litres) and on registration the day before the start you drop off your bags, labelled with your number. You arrive at the control your bags are at, call at the bag door and give/show your number and the bag is produced. Hand it back in when done. Option to access twice (each) unless you choose Edinburgh). Can have both bags at the same control. No fluids or other dangerous/sharp/breakable stuff. All bags returned to finish by midday(ish) on Day 5 for collection.
Start time selection: You haven't asked about start time selection yet!! ;)
 
OP
oreo_muncher

oreo_muncher

Senior Member
I rode LEL in 2013 and it was my first big one. I’ve done big ones every year since, and refined things, but I’ll just cover what I did first time round.

I rode an SR series of 200km, 300km, 400km, 600km. My first time riding anything longer than 200km. This was over the period March 2013 to June 2013. These allowed me to hone my equipment , setup, and confidence in night riding. The 600km built confidence of getting back on the bike after a short sleep. July I went to the Alps for a two week walk round some mountain huts. Other than commuting I didn’t ride my bike.

Other than the SR I just did my five days a week commute, which is was 40km daily. Then I’d do one longer ride at weekend but nothing longer than 100km if that.

My strategy was as simple as aiming to have at least 3 hours contingency after each sleep. I didn’t have a detailed set of times and schedules. It’s not necessary. So I’d get to a control, look at how far ahead of the time limit I was, and manage my stopped time to keep on top of it. At each control I’d judge whether I needed to sleep or could make next control before it’d become necessary. I’d keep moving forward as long as I didn’t need sleep. I paid no heed to daylight or darkness I’d be riding until sleep became necessary. I ate at the controls. There was always a range of food and different each control. I’d choose when I got there as you wouldn’t know in advance.

I choose my bag drop locations based on terrain. So I had clothes changes before / after the more remote and hillier terrain of the north.

Overall min speed is 12 km/h. So as long as you keep on top of not stopping too long at controls you are not sleeping at. It all works out. So at a control you should be either eating, filling up water bottles, going to toilet, having a shower, or sleeping. If you are doing anything else consider getting moving again.
In what ways is night riding different to riding in the day except darkness being an issue in rural unlit areas?? What were some signs for you that you needed to sleep? And when you went to sleep, did you set an alarm and for how long would you sleep? For how long at most were you cycling in terms of time and distance? How long did it take you to complete it and what was your average speed? What was the food like at the controls, any idea what the vegan options are like? How did your clothes differ based on terrain?
 
OP
oreo_muncher

oreo_muncher

Senior Member
Food: Ate a meal at every control (except the first), sometimes two (at Moffat - night 2, and Louth - night 4). Range of options offered including for minority diet limiters.
Training: What do you mean by 'body adjust to ride long distances'? Get out and ride. Work up to a thousand km a month (in the penultimate month). Can you ride 50 miles? Yes? Then you can ride 100km. etc Need to 'learn' to ride for a few hours in the dark. Need to learn not to faff.
Mechanical: No mechanicals for me but various for others, some ride ending (eg 'plastic' seat post snapped off at Thirsk). Brief check of tyres at Edinburgh (breakfast Day 3). I have had a FD gear cable part at 100km into a 600. I adjusted the FD into the middle ring and rode on to a town with a bike shop, bought a cable, fitted it, and rode on. Everyone gets punctures occasionally: tyre removal, checking cause, tube replacement and reinflation takes little time, in the scheme of things.
Bag drop: One can choose the locations for two separate bags (supplied, volume about 7 litres) and on registration the day before the start you drop off your bags, labelled with your number. You arrive at the control your bags are at, call at the bag door and give/show your number and the bag is produced. Hand it back in when done. Option to access twice (each) unless you choose Edinburgh). Can have both bags at the same control. No fluids or other dangerous/sharp/breakable stuff. All bags returned to finish by midday(ish) on Day 5 for collection.
Start time selection: You haven't asked about start time selection yet!! ;)
What were the meals like?How often did you eat when you were cycling on your bike? So there is a vegan option at control points?

My record is 107 miles, but at some points that got painful and sat there at the side of the road not knowing if I can go on whilst eating a sandwich.. I can do 110km comfortably but it's after that point where some parts were hard. So wondering if I keep training will I be able to do 200km comfortably at least it becoming less difficult? Or maybe the lack of sleep that day got to me and made riding more difficult after a certain point.

My maintenance abilities are poor and I'm pretty sure I have a reputation for it on this forum now.... But I'm hoping to become better at this stuff. Did you ever re-lube your bike or pump your tyres during the event?

What did you put inside your bags?

So tell me about start time selection :biggrin:
 
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