How do people do the LEL?

OP
oreo_muncher

oreo_muncher

Senior Member
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.
2023 is a long way off too but think for now I'll just focus on trying to learn bike mechanics and after I do that 117km audax- if all goes to plan, I'll try focus on the 200km audaxes. I don't think my mental belief in myself is great :sad: I'm very confident on London roads because I know if anything happens there is a bike shop nearby but when it comes to cycling in remote areas I get panicky about something going wrong with my bike:shy:
 

Ming the Merciless

Formerly YukonBoy
Location
Inside my skull
2023 is a long way off too but think for now I'll just focus on trying to learn bike mechanics and after I do that 117km audax- if all goes to plan, I'll try focus on the 200km audaxes. I don't think my mental belief in myself is great :sad: I'm very confident on London roads because I know if anything happens there is a bike shop nearby but when it comes to cycling in remote areas I get panicky about something going wrong with my bike:shy:
That seems to be something that stops a few woman from cycling or going that but further. Where as men either are mechanically competent , or not mechanically competent, but still confident. The only difference being confidence regardless of skill. I can only imagine it’s an upbringing and societal thing, that leads to this difference in self confidence. Hard to believe in this century. But the evidence is apparent.

There’s one time I couldn’t fix something. My mtn bike chain had broken, whilst in woods, on my commute home. It was very cold, with ice on the ground. It was simply too cold for me to operate the chain splitter tool. So I walked to bike to a pub. Got warm with a pint and rang my wife to see if she could pick me up.

But doing your own maintenance will build a justified confidence in your skills. You’ll also become sympathetic to how your bike is running and mostly avoid mechanicals in the road other than the odd puncture.
 

DCLane

Found in the Yorkshire hills ...
2023 is a long way off too but think for now I'll just focus on trying to learn bike mechanics and after I do that 117km audax- if all goes to plan, I'll try focus on the 200km audaxes. I don't think my mental belief in myself is great :sad: I'm very confident on London roads because I know if anything happens there is a bike shop nearby but when it comes to cycling in remote areas I get panicky about something going wrong with my bike:shy:
Expect and intend to learn. If I remember correctly you're a university student? It's no different.

Ten years ago I could just about change a tube. If given 3-4 hours. I couldn't adjust anything and hadn't a clue. There was no way I was going to learn on my new '40th birthday' bike even though it came with an allen key set.

So I picked up a very cheap and old 10 speed bike. About £10 I think, plus a basic toolkit (a BikeMate one), two chains, some tyre levers, a few cheap tubes, a cheap tyre, a couple of budget brake pads, some cable inner/outers and the Haynes book of bicycle maintenance. Then had a go. By the end of a week there were bits everywhere, I'd ruined a chain and a few tubes, cut cables too short/long and threaded badly, learnt that sticking puncture patches on involved a lot of mess and bad words. But I could now repair a bike and much I've done since started there. And I had a 'winter' bike as a result.

The same process applied to learning to build them from scratch. Another cheap £10 frame and a handful of second-hand parts. The result was abysmal as I'd cracked the headtube putting the headset in. Everything else worked though; it went off to a bicycle repair centre and was re-used. But the other 25+ bikes I've built since then have been fine.
 
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Ming the Merciless

Formerly YukonBoy
Location
Inside my skull
Oh and I broke a spoke on LEL 13. Loosened brakes and limped 25km into Thirsk control. Didn’t have any spare spokes. Went to the controller and asked about a bike shop. She said we can do better than that. I was led to an area to work on your bike with all the tools you need.

Mechanic was sleeping. I didn’t know this and took a spoke off another rider. He said what do you think you are doing? After explaining I was an idiot. He took pity and gave me a spare spoke. I had no idea what I was doing and had the new spoke going through the valve hole in rim at one point. It took me about 3 hours to fit one spoke. It lasted till finish but I was far from competent. The Christmas after my wife bought me a place on a wheel building course. I haven’t looked back and built all my wheels since. It’s given me a lot more confidence in the wheels and that if something does break I can fix it.

Haven’t said that wheels don’t break all that often so don’t let my story put you off.

We didn’t all start competent knowing how to fix or maintain everything on the bike. The only thing I started with knowing was fixing punctures as I learnt as a young child with spoons for tyre levers.
 
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OP
oreo_muncher

oreo_muncher

Senior Member
Expect and intend to learn. If I remember correctly you're a university student? It's no different.

Ten years ago I could just about change a tube. If given 3-4 hours. I couldn't adjust anything and hadn't a clue. There was no way I was going to learn on my new '40th birthday' bike even though it came with an allen key set.

So I picked up a very cheap and old 10 speed bike. About £10 I think, plus a basic toolkit (a BikeMate one), two chains, some tyre levers, a few cheap tubes, a cheap tyre, a couple of budget brake pads, some cable inner/outers and the Haynes book of bicycle maintenance. Then had a go. By the end of a week there were bits everywhere, I'd ruined a chain and a few tubes, cut cables too short/long and threaded badly, learnt that sticking puncture patches on involved a lot of mess and bad words. But I could now repair a bike and much I've done since started there. And I had a 'winter' bike as a result.

The same process applied to learning to build them from scratch. Another cheap £10 frame and a handful of second-hand parts. The result was abysmal as I'd cracked the headtube putting the headset in. Everything else worked though; it went off to a bicycle repair centre and was re-used. But the other 25+ bikes I've built since then have been fine.
Where can I buy one of those cheap bikes that I could tinker on? And what mechanical repairs should I practice on it? What tools do I need?
 

DCLane

Found in the Yorkshire hills ...
Where can I buy one of those cheap bikes that I could tinker on? And what mechanical repairs should I practice on it? What tools do I need?
The information's in my reply about a tool kit. A BikeMate one is fine plus some allen keys. You'll need a tub/tube of grease and some WD40/GT85 spray. And get the Haynes bike maintenance manual.

Learn to change a tyre / tube, repair / replace a chain, replace cables, change brake pads, true a wheel. They're the basic bits of maintenance and will get you out of most problems. Add in lubricating / greasing things plus changing a bottom bracket and you're almost self-sufficient.

For a cheap bike try eBay / Facebook marketplace / Shpock / Gumtree / a bike shop for exchanges. Mine came from a postcard in a shop and an eBay advert. Even a 'wanted' ad on a local Facebook cycle sales group might elicit something; 'cheap bike wanted to learn maintenance on' sort of thing. Using some initiative helps :okay:
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
Where can I buy one of those cheap bikes that I could tinker on? And what mechanical repairs should I practice on it? What tools do I need?
1. All kinds of places. Gumtree, local ads, bike shops.
2. Fixing punctures, cleaning/lubricating drive train, replacing tyres, adjusting/tightening headset, Regreasing bearings, cutting and replacing chain, brake pads, fitting/unfitting mudguards, replacing cables...
3. set of allen keys. Maybe some spanners for an old bike. Then whatever tools your next job needs - chain tool, cable cutters, chain whip, cassette extractor ... No need to buy them all at once.
 
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Ajax Bay

Guru
Location
East Devon
Tool procurement in order (assumes QR axles):
Pump (attached to bike or short enough to carry)
Set of allen keys ) (or simple multi-tool)
Screwdriver cross head, small )
Tyre levers
GT85
Chain oil/lube
Pump, floor
Cable cutters
 

Ajax Bay

Guru
Location
East Devon
On review I did have a 'mechanical' on LEL 2017: with an hour to go, but I didn't 'mend' it.
From the Great Easton control leaving at 8pm I planned to bang straight down the B184 through Great Dunmow and Chipping Ongar – a fine, fast route choice (as opposed to zig-zaggy back lanes). As it got dark I crabbed across to join the recommended route at Toot Hill, and made to stop at the junction, where I had a clipped-in fall moment, at 0mph. I laughed, wrestled the bike upright, checked the brakes and a group came round the corner. “Going to London?” they asked. “Yes; where have you come from?” I queried. Quick as flash came the answer “London!”. Yeah! Someone still firing on all cylinders, and wheels to follow. Rode this last bit with a stem twisted 10o out and an STI skew-whiff but the body compensates (though a bit disconcerting round fast corners).
 

Poacher

Gravitationally challenged member
Location
Nottingham
Where can I buy one of those cheap bikes that I could tinker on? And what mechanical repairs should I practice on it? What tools do I need?
Check out https://www.nottinghambikeworks.org.uk/
You can buy a reconditioned bike from them (not the cheapest option, but guaranteed roadworthy), take it apart and rebuild it to your heart's content. In normal times they offer maintenance courses, e.g. https://www.nottinghambikeworks.org...ucation/maintenence-courses/basic-women-only/ but these are currently not available. It looks like you've just missed their latest one-day bike sale (https://www.nottinghambikeworks.org.uk/about-us/covid-19-update/) but there will be another before too long.

I have no connection with this organisation, to my shame

Edit: the Sue Ryder charity shop on Goosegate usually has a selection of functional bikes.
 
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Pale Rider

Legendary Member
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?
As much food as I could eat, although we were barely able to keep on top of demand so there wasn't much down time.

Shift length is down to the controller.

I think overnights was about 10 hours, although a shortage of volunteers meant the controller - and the rest of us - were grateful for any hands on the pump.

Volunteers were entitled to a guaranteed entry in the next event, not that I took mine up.

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.
Very kind.

We - thanks to Phil the Controller - did try to run it in a professional manner.

Some of the other controls had treats such as home made cakes.

We didn't, although demand was that fierce anything less than catering quantities wouldn't have lasted long.

We were warned some of the riders might be a bit grouchy due to being over tired.

I saw no evidence of that, if anything the reverse was true with lots of effusive thanks for simple little things like pointing out where a Garmin could be plugged in.

Some of the riders were reduced to feebleness due to fatigue - @DCLane mentioned struggling to operate a hand pump.

I performed several small tasks for riders which ordinarily they would have done themselves without a second thought.

One disappointing aspect was very few of my fellow volunteers were local.

Phil and his wife came up from Oxford, our chef was from Portsmouth, two or three were from York, which is a hike if not staying over, and so on.

I believe for 2017, LEL head honcho Danial took the decision to pay for a lot more hired help at the controls, mostly in the kitchens and cleaning.

I think again due to tiredness, most of the controls had some very messy toilet incidents - we did.

Danial decided it was bordering on the unreasonable to ask untrained volunteers to get their hands that dirty.

Our controller insisted on leading from the front in that respect, saving us the worst of it.
 
How did you prepare and for how long?

Up to now LEL-2017 has been my one and only audax.

My prep was my usual 170mile/week year-round commute plus from about March of that year a weekend ride of between 100-135miles at avg 18/20mph (plus shorter rides for the earlier part of the year).

Note that I live in the East of England, ie flat, flat, and flatter.

By the start of the event (end of July) I'd done ~8k miles for the year.

No back-to-back rides, no multi-days, no SRs or anything like that.

But prep is a personal thing - it's what's right for you.

What was your strategy for completing it during the ride?

I had already decided I'd go full-value, enjoy the scenery, leave with the last group, and maximise daylight riding.

How did things work with sleep- how many hours were you sleeping and what was your riding schedule like?

I only managed one reasonable dorm sleep (Barnard Castle north).

The rest of the time I just napped with my face in my dinner plate - well not literally.

North 50:37 total elapsed
South 62:44 total elapsed

About 3.5hours to spare at the finish.

How was the food situation for you?

Other than at Louth (north) where the greedy buggers had eaten all the food - fine.

I probably ate more than a needed to recoup the calories.

How many hours at a time were you riding and what was your average speed like?

North 28:34 ~15.5mph
South 38:48 ~11.7mph

What did you use to navigate it?

Breadcrumb trail on a Garmin Edge200.

Whilst the concept of LEL might seem extreme to you it isn't really if you like endurance events.

Once you start all normality goes out the window and you're just riding, eating, and resting for up to ~5days.

Oh, and being able to cope with UK changeable weather conditions helps.
 

DCLane

Found in the Yorkshire hills ...
What was your strategy for completing it during the ride?

I had already decided I'd go full-value, enjoy the scenery, leave with the last group, and maximise daylight riding.
A sensible approach, whereas I rode through all 4 nights to get under 100 hours. Scenery? What scenery - north Lincolnshire-Thirsk in the dark, the Devil's Beeftub was climbed at 2am solo in the fog, night over Yad Moss back and night through the Fens.
 

Ming the Merciless

Formerly YukonBoy
Location
Inside my skull
I like night riding but I’ll choose scenery over night given the choice. Returning south in 2013 I hit Brampton just before nightfall. I stopped to eat and realised I’d be crossing Yadd Moss in the dark. I’d crossed Yadd Moss in the dark going north. I looked at my contingency, realised I had enough time to sleep at that moment. So slept till about an hour before sunrise. Got up, had breakfast and rode into the dawn of a new day, taking in the scenery I’d missed northbound.
 
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