How do people do the LEL?

OP
oreo_muncher

oreo_muncher

Senior Member
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 .
What was your sleep like? What was your experience like of doing LEL, did you find it hard at times?
 

Ajax Bay

Guru
Location
East Devon
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?
How would I have accumulated fatigue from a ride a month before?
GPS/nav? Did you read my comment? I'll paste it here to make it easy for you. My GPS display was heart rate, average speed, speed, distance and cadence. The distance was my navigational help: combined with the list of distance to each place I always knew where I was heading.
"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."
Schedule: The attached xl worksheet is designed by someone else.
Sunset about 9; sunrise about 5. You work out how many hours I rode in the dark.
Day 1: Start 1145 Hull 0110
Day 2 Hull 0630 Moffat 2322
Day 3 Moffat 0601 Alston 2115
Day 4 Alston 0410 Louth 2100
Day 5 Louth 0530 Finish 2226
I stopped at controls and ate exclusively at controls. No stopping for more than a couple of minutes other than that, except for pint in a (warm) pub on the wet evening of Day 4.
Ask about start time selection again when you've managed to get a start.
You are reiterating questions which I've addressed, to the extent that I am unconvinced you have read the various comments. Just saying.
By the time you've done a 600, you'll know what you want to put in your bags yourself.
 

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OP
oreo_muncher

oreo_muncher

Senior Member
How would I have accumulated fatigue from a ride a month before?
GPS/nav? Did you read my comment? I'll paste it here to make it easy for you. My GPS display was heart rate, average speed, speed, distance and cadence. The distance was my navigational help: combined with the list of distance to each place I always knew where I was heading.
"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."
Schedule: The attached xl worksheet is designed by someone else.
Sunset about 9; sunrise about 5. You work out how many hours I rode in the dark.
Day 1: Start 1145 Hull 0110
Day 2 Hull 0630 Moffat 2322
Day 3 Moffat 0601 Alston 2115
Day 4 Alston 0410 Louth 2100
Day 5 Louth 0530 Finish 2226
I stopped at controls and ate exclusively at controls. No stopping for more than a couple of minutes other than that, except for pint in a (warm) pub on the wet evening of Day 4.
Ask about start time selection again when you've managed to get a start.
You are reiterating questions which I've addressed, to the extent that I am unconvinced you have read the various comments. Just saying.
By the time you've done a 600, you'll know what you want to put in your bags yourself.
I knew that you said that, I was trying to ask if you used Garmin or anything like that or just relied exclusively on your research from googleSV and knowing town names and distances and having a route card. About 8 hours roughly.
 

Pale Rider

Legendary Member
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 volunteered mostly overnight in the kitchen at Barnard Castle in 2013.

What struck me was the riders wanted cereal and more cereal, at all hours of the day and night.

Several riders politely asked me if they could have seconds, which was fair enough because the bowls weren't very big.

We had a gallon milk box dispenser with regular deliveries, but it was insufficient.

It ran out too often, and it couldn't pour the milk fast enough, leading to queues.

We had to make several trips to shops in Barney to panic buy.

We then put a few of the containers on the counter, allowing the riders to fill their bowls from them, which did speed up throughput.

Hot volunteer gossip at the time related to one of the chefs at a control further south.

Apparently he threw a chefly hissy fit and walked out, which in turn led to some very cranky catering at that control.

As I observed from the complications involved in a simple thing like serving milk, it's not easy running a full service food and drink operation 24 hours a day.
 
OP
oreo_muncher

oreo_muncher

Senior Member
I volunteered mostly overnight in the kitchen at Barnard Castle in 2013.

What struck me was the riders wanted cereal and more cereal, at all hours of the day and night.

Several riders politely asked me if they could have seconds, which was fair enough because the bowls weren't very big.

We had a gallon milk box dispenser with regular deliveries, but it was insufficient.

It ran out too often, and it couldn't pour the milk fast enough, leading to queues.

We had to make several trips to shops in Barney to panic buy.

We then put a few of the containers on the counter, allowing the riders to fill their bowls from them, which did speed up throughput.

Hot volunteer gossip at the time related to one of the chefs at a control further south.

Apparently he threw a chefly hissy fit and walked out, which in turn led to some very cranky catering at that control.

As I observed from the complications involved in a simple thing like serving milk, it's not easy running a full service food and drink operation 24 hours a day.
How long were the 'shifts' when you volunteered? Were there any benefits to volunteering e. g. Free food? Or were you doing it to guarantee yourself a spot for the LEL 2017?
 

Ajax Bay

Guru
Location
East Devon
Like @Pale Rider (but differently) I volunteered at Loughton before and after my ride. Barnard Castle was a stand-out control, both going north and south, not just its setting and layout, but the all-round benevolent atmosphere. The downside is the temptation to stay too long each visit.
For me (I am not picky and have a strong digestion with no dietary restrictions/aberrations) the food at every control was fine and more than enough. There were labelled veggie and vegan options but quite rightly pretty limited (after all these people are small minority). I stopped once to buy a snack (at Alston going north) and once at a pub (Rothwell going south). I put weight on during the ride. I probably spent £5 max during the 5 days cycling.
This ride’s character is heavily influenced by the support every rider enjoys from the volunteer-run controls all along the route. The all-in 'included in the entry fee' support makes this ride unlike the other big one (PBP). I experienced nothing but kindness and sociability from all those (many from other nations btw) who’d given their time up to help – I thank each and every one. It was great to chat with volunteers and meet again some who, having set up the start Friday and Saturday, travelled north to work at a control.
How long were the 'shifts' when you volunteered? Were there any benefits to volunteering e. g. Free food? Or were you doing it to guarantee yourself a spot for the LEL 2017?
I travelled up early (from Devon) and helped set up the start on Friday, particularly the extensive bike park, and on Saturday my main stint was breaking the back of distributing the clothing from the tent, which gave me hundreds of opportunities to offer a welcome and wish each rider good luck, including a few I knew. Otherwise it was just understanding what was going on, where everything was, stepping in to help out, and being able to answer questions and offer directions to any rider who, seeing a volunteer in a t-shirt, came and asked. Other volunteers had a more structured work pattern. And at controls, after 3 days, some of the volunteers were more tired than the riders.
There were no shifts: I just worked till everything was set up (about 11am to 6pm Friday) and 9am to 6pm Saturday. At the end, after a bit of sleep early Friday morning, I helped clear up at the finish, until late on Friday, leaving once the M25 transformed from car park to orbital road (so about 7am - 7pm). Yes, the food was 'free' (I was serving a bit of it and generally helping the canteen servery work, mind, making sure any things running out were replenished and keeping the tables clear). I gave up a day of work to help on Friday, so at my daily rate (foregone), the food was quite expensive ;). I slept Friday and Saturday nights in a youth hostel in London (Thameside), chosen as it was just round the corner from the Friday night pub get-together for the ride. After finishing late evening, and a bit of food and a case of beer with others (pre-bought and left in the car - helpers' car park), I slept at the start/finish with many others in the school gym on an airbed (provided). Later with a couple of others I collapsed and rolled all 60+ airbeds and cleared and swept the gym.
Volunteering doesn't get you a start slot on the ride. But it does get one a guaranteed start slot on the next LEL (hopefully 2021).
I occasionally wear the t-shirt provided and having 'volunteer' status allowed one to buy a red LEL cycling top rather than the 'normal' blue one. To be honest that's the main reason I volunteered ;).
 
What was your sleep like? What was your experience like of doing LEL, did you find it hard at times?
My right hand shifter packed in 2km from the start of 2013 LEL which effectively left me riding single speed so it was harder than my expectations as for sleep day one was an hour in a field next to the road at approximately 390 km as the control at Pocklington was jammed to the rafters with people asleep on any flat surface then a couple of hours at Brampton at 550 km and again at Brampton after the return from Edinburgh at 850 km but only managed an hour as again the control was heaving with bodies , I then grabbed a shower and a couple of hours sleep at Market rasen 1150 km and got to Great Easton 1377 km which was the penultimate control with plenty of time to spare so grabbed a final hours sleep then did the last 45 km to the finish . 2017 I volunteered at Brampton and Moffat as I was unable to ride and probably slept less over the course of the event .
 

Ming the Merciless

Formerly YukonBoy
Location
Inside my skull
@oreo_muncher

In what ways is night riding different to riding in the day except darkness being an issue in rural unlit areas??

It is colder, it can approach zero overnight even in summer. There’s a distinct lack of people and traffic. Apart from other bike lights of other riders you can see, you are out there on your own. You can’t visually see your gears so you have to do it on feel (if you have dual control shifting braking), are you in big big or a better gear combination? Is your water low by how much the bottle weighs? It’s harder to put bottles back in cages, get food out of top tubes bags without dropping them. Depending on your lights you might not be able to see road signs. If you get a mechanical do you have a head torch to enable you to see? It gets harder to see pot holes so you may crash through them. If you look at the gps and back up your night vision might be impaired. It’s harder to judge distances. I remember seeing the lights of the Humber bridge going north and it taking ages to get there. You are concentrating much harder and mentally more fatigued

So if you are not in a good place the night can magnify your perceived problems. I don’t have any stats on it, but I wonder how many quit overnight because of the extra mental load. You can’t get distracted from your thoughts overnight.

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?

Making silly mistakes whilst riding, changing up a gear instead of down, turning left instead of right as the GPS is telling me, dropping a water bottle, not being able to do a simple mental maths, being short or out of sorts with any riding companions, finding the need to close my eyes, feeling really lethargic or my riding speed dropping off a cliff when I’m well hydrated and fed.

I remember one night I was getting upset with other riders following me through the lanes. Even though I knew we were all riding LEL and therefore going the same way. I knew I was not thinking straight and that I needed to sleep when I reached the next control.

At controls volunteers would come wake you up. They didn’t want everyone getting woken up every few mins by alarms going off. I generally slept 3-4 hours each night apart from second night, where with stomach problems I slept 7 hours, using up my contingency, to try and recover. It worked.

For how long at most were you cycling in terms of time and distance?

Whatever was the longest distance between controls. I think the longest distance was 100km up to the first control at St Ives. We had a stonking tailwind and were fresh and full of excitement at start, plus riding in larger groups of the start. So it took about 3 hours. Generally it was up to 4 hours at most between controls

How long did it take you and average speed?

It took me 105 hours , I don’t know average speed, it’s not something I monitor on long rides. In my mental calculations I assume 20 km/h as it makes the mental maths easy.

You should be aware I manage my rides by how far ahead of the time limits I am. As long as I’m not bumping on the time limits I’m fairly relaxed. As I get older I will slow down. But for now I’m fast enough and efficient enough (at controls) to stay ahead of the limits. So I could have done it quicker but for me I am out for a good time, not a good time, if that makes sense.

You just need to be fast enough, and not faff at controls. If you can average 20 km/h on the road that’s enough to make it comfortable (as it can be), with enough time for sleep.


How did your clothes differ based on terrain?

South of Yadd Moss the terrain is fairly low level with nothing up high. So I only had fingerless gloves and a short sleeve jersey and lightweight waterproof jacket. At Barnard Castle I picked up a warm thermal base layer, warm gloves, and a beanie for the head. I also picked up some sealskin cycling socks. I carried arm warmers and leg warmers throughout the ride.

Food and vegan options?

I’m not vegan so can’t comment on it but I know there were vegan options available at controls.
 
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DCLane

Found in the Yorkshire hills ...
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?
People have answered most of these already. Adjusting takes time; I eat about every 20 minutes and carried flapjacks, malt loaf, gels, bars in a bag which were refilled from my drop bags and even a bowl of lasagne attached to the clipboard at one point. That I don't advise. It was very messy.

Post-2017 operation I've done less distance, although did ride a 600km last year, having moved into track racing which my son does. Training for sub-10 minute racing has massively affected my ability over distance. But I've always intended to volunteer at the next LEL rather than ride.

I pumped the tyres at the start and left them alone. That stops any potential silly mistakes.

Mechanical problems:

1. I hit a massive pothole in heavy rain coming into Edinburgh. The front was all over the place afterwards so I scooted it the 2km to the control. The mechanic at the control went "och ... 16 spoked front wheel ... och .... bad idea ... och ... it'll be kippered". Wheel was fine (just sold on my NeilPryde Nazare having done 2500 miles since!) but the brake had been knocked out of place and the caliper slightly damaged.

2. About 10km before Great Easton I got a flat. Changed the tyre and then sat looking at the pump wondering "I know what this does, but I can't remember how it works". By that stage tiredness was taking over so I wasn't checking the road surface properly, let alone being able to pump a tyre. Got about 20psi in eventually and pumped it at the control with a proper track pump.

3. The brakes weren't great for PBP but I hadn't changed them, primarily because of starting LEL injured. I was intending to stop and volunteer at Barnard Castle with my surgeon's advice not to even start: I was waiting an operation that took place 6 weeks later to basically make my right leg work and re-build my right IT band. That didn't happen due to the wonderful Barnard physio both ways and by the end of LEL I had no rear brakes and only half a working front caliper. Running cheap Tektro brakes had been a bad idea as they'd all bent so they've now been changed for some lovely (and expensive) Velo Orange Grand Cru chrome ones with Swissstop pads which stop brilliantly and add bling.

4. A bottle cage cracked so rattled from about Alston back. Kept me awake so was very useful. Again they've been replaced with Velo Orange chromed cages.

5. The mudguard rattled. But then it'd rattled for a while and also kept me awake. I recently discovered the bolt had worn a larger hole; now fixed with a bigger and proper bolt/nut.

On PBP there were no issues at all, except I rode over glass at one point coming into Brest. Stopped immediately and cleared it from the tyres.
 
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Ming the Merciless

Formerly YukonBoy
Location
Inside my skull
I volunteered mostly overnight in the kitchen at Barnard Castle in 2013.

What struck me was the riders wanted cereal and more cereal, at all hours of the day and night.
The ride does strange things to the appetite , cereal with milk was one thing you could eat no matter what your stomach was up to. I remember wanting breakfast at odd times, or I just want apple crumble with custard and no mains. I never fought the cravings as I took it to be my body telling me what it needed.
 

Ming the Merciless

Formerly YukonBoy
Location
Inside my skull
Further commenting on average speed.

If you can average 20 km/h on the road then LEL (2013) route would take 72 hours. The time limit in 2013 was 116 hours 40 mins. So that leaves you 44 hours 40 mins of stopped time. You’ll potentially go through 4 nights. So if you sleep 4 hours a night that leaves 28 hours 40 mins for the rest. That translates to 5 hours 43 mins of stop time other than sleep each day (just under 5 days riding). You’ll cover about 300km a day, and at roughly 60-80km between controls you’ll hit about 4-5 controls per day. If you can keep every control stop other than sleep under an hour you’ll build a bit of contingency. If you are at the slower end then aim for 30 mins stopped (if eating) and expect it to be 45 mins by time you are riding again.

Sounds easy!
 
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OP
oreo_muncher

oreo_muncher

Senior Member
Further commenting on average speed.

If you can average 20 km/h on the road then LEL (2013) route would take 72 hours. The time limit in 2013 was 116 hours 40 mins. So that leaves you 44 hours 40 mins of stopped time. You’ll potentially go through 4 nights. So if you sleep 4 hours a night that leaves 28 hours 40 mins for the rest. That translates to 7 hours of stop time other than sleep each day. If you can keep every control stop other than sleep under an hour you’ll build a bit of contingency.

Sounds easy!
I've been considering the 2021 LEL but don't think I'm ready, I don't have the practice and I haven't learnt basics mechanics and there is no guarantee even if I applied for it that my ballot card would get chosen to participate unless I get my Mum or sister to do 3 days of volunteering then I would be guaranteed a space apparently? But a bit annoyed the next one won't be till 2025 :sad:
 

Ming the Merciless

Formerly YukonBoy
Location
Inside my skull
I've been considering the 2021 LEL but don't think I'm ready, I don't have the practice and I haven't learnt basics mechanics and there is no guarantee even if I applied for it that my ballot card would get chosen to participate unless I get my Mum or sister to do 3 days of volunteering then I would be guaranteed a space apparently? But a bit annoyed the next one won't be till 2025 :sad:
Then perhaps aim for PBP which next runs in 2023? If LEL is delayed till 2022 then you could be prepare for that. Preparation is pandemic mode is hard if new to longer distances. The usual mentoring not so readily available.

The biggest barrier to riding LEL or PBP is mental belief in yourself. That’s the first step really, having the self confidence to give it a go. There’s a million ways of convincing yourself you are not ready, or it won’t happen. But unless you try, you never know.

Learning basic bike mechanics over the next few months wouldn’t be a bad thing as part of your prep. As well as the actual skills it’ll bolster your confidence on the road.
 
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