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 Post subject: The Final Report from LEL
PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 9:17 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2005 8:10 am
Posts: 702
Well at long last the time arrived for the adventure to begin. A quick check of the bike, saddle bag and lights to make sure everything was set and then at 8.15am on Saturday morning it was off.

We headed out of Thorne, birth place of Mr Crapper, inventor of the W.C. (Alec will be proud of me for that bit of info) and headed at a steady pace along flat countryside north towards Edinburgh.

We passed through Stamford Bridge, scene of a famous battle in 1066, and then started climbing through Castle Howard to the first control at Hovingham, 84km in 3hrs. After a quick refuel it was off to the next control, Eppleby, with some short stiff climbs for the first 12km or so. This started to split things up a little and our group was now down to about 8 riders. Things flattened out for a while as we headed almost due north before crossing the A1(M) just north of Scotch Corner where we then headed west, another 80km in around 3hrs.

The section from Middleton – in – Teesdale was where the real climbing began. Up over the North Pennines rising for the next 20km to a peak at just over 600m on exposed moorland before descending down for 15km and the control at Alston where we enjoyed a well earned refuel.

A rider who started in the group 15minutes behind caught up with the remainder of our group, now down to 4, so we teamed up for the next section which would take us across the border to Canonbie.

The new member charged to the front with look carbon frame and kyserium wheels (made the tactical decision to sit in for this bit i.e. it was too quick for me to hit the front!) By the time we reached Brampton after 30km our man at the front began to slow down so we started to wheel about for the second section arriving in Canonbie at 7.17pm after 291km in the legs.

The next two sections would take us over plenty of hills heading via Langholm, Eskdalemuir, Gordon Arms and Innerleithen to Dalkeith. As we passed Ettrick it was time for the lights to go on. The good thing about riding on these quiet roads at night is that you can sit in the middle of the road and get plenty of warning when cars are approaching as their light beams can be seen from far off. The bad thing about it is that there are lots of sheep and other critters about ready to spring out and scare the hell out of you!

The group of 4 split up as two of the riders headed up the road. Myself and Gordon Heggie from Glasgow paced it up the climbs and eventually arrived at Dalkeith at 1.15am, 10minutes behind the others. At this point Gordon and I had committed to ride through the night while one of the other riders was bedding down and waiting for his team mates to arrive.

About 10km outside Dalkeith on the return leg we started to see riders in small groups heading towards Edinburgh.

We turned off the main A7 onto minor roads and headed up the hills into the mist that had formed on this clear night. The down sections were very cold so its was on with all available gear to try and stay warm. There was only myself, Gordon and Martyn from Newcastle in the group now but Martyn’s knee was beginning to act up and he was struggling on the climbs.

We rode it fairly steady to try and help Marty along, he was hoping he could ride through the pain. We arrived at Ettrick at 5.35am after 476km, cold, damp but feeling ok.

Martyn got some cream for his knee and we pushed onto the next control, back a Cannonbie, unfortunately for Marty there was more climbing so little rest for the knee. Just as we arrived at Canonbie the first London starter passed us as he headed north – he was eventually to finish first in a time of 62hrs 47mins!!!

After a quick turn around we headed back over the border to Alston, a short section south to Longtown before we turned east and straight into a headwind! We tried as best we could to shelter Martyn as he continued to struggle with his knee. This 60km section to Alston took us almost 3hrs to complete.

From Alston you go straight up hill for 15km over exposed moorland with strong winds, at this point Martyn decided to rest for a bit longer before moving on so we said our farewells as Gordon and I headed out of the control to start the climb. The first section through the town is a steep cobbled section lasting about 500m, shaking you to the core as you struggle to drag a loaded bike up the hill. Once out of the town it was in the saddle, pick a gear and spin away trying not to look up as the road could be seen snaking up the moors for miles. Eventually we reached the summit after 50minutes of climbing only to have to pedal down the other side to keep it moving. Gradually we dropped down from the summit over some rolling roads reaching Eppleby by 3.20pm Sunday, still feeling ok.

After Eppleby the route turned south crossing the A1 (M) again, passing to the east of York. The road started to rise again about 20km from the control at Hovingham but as we crested the peak it was a fast 8km to the control pacing at 40km ph.

Just over halfway now and one more hop before a planned sleep at Thorne. A bit of lumpy terrain as we left Hovingham but it did not last long before it went nice and flat. After about 1½ hrs of cycling the light began to fade so it was on with the lights again. A little while later the rain started so it was stop time to delve into the saddle bag for the rain gear. Looking around I started to see strange shapes in the sky, is this what lack of sleep does to you? Thankfully I wasn’t imagining it, there are around half a dozen power stations in this area and it was the smoke from the chimneys I was seeing. As we got closer to Thorne I started to get pains on the balls of my feet, eventually having to stop with 20km to go and take my shoes off to massage my feet. Back on with the shoes and onto the next control arriving at ten minutes to midnight, just under 40hrs gone and 821 km covered.

I had planned to sleep for around 4hrs but after 2 hrs sleeping on a bench in the rugby clubs changing rooms I woke up with my knees throbbing so decided to get organised and crack onto Lincoln. I pushed on in the dark and rain alone as Gordon had to call it quits at this point – he was heading home for a job interview. At this section the roads are very quiet and almost dead pan flat. I arrived at Lincoln at 7.20am.

I managed to get a puncture just outside the control, so it was time to fix the flat before moving out onto busy city traffic for a while before finding quieter roads. After about 20km the roads started to get lumpy, nothing too big just lots of up and down, this made the going a bit tough. Eventually I arrived at the next control at Thurlby just before midday with 968km gone.

As I moved south I was the first to pass through the controls so I was getting the star treatment and lots of photos were taken!

The rain had cleared by now so it was back off with the rain gear before reluctantly moving out of the control for a long section down to Gramlingay. Again this was a lumpy section with little respite on long rolling roads. As I headed further south in the early afternoon the roads got busier. Having to cross a few main roads meant that I had to make sure I took the right roads but the route sheet I was using was spot on so as long as I followed the instructions all was ok

I arrived at the control just after 4.30pm Monday feeling pretty tired now after 2 days on the road, 1055km covered and just 2 hours sleep. It was decision time now, head to London and either sleep there or turn and head back to this control for a sleep. A quick calculation in my head and I thought I could be back here just before midnight so a turn around at London it was.

The 65km to London was a tough one with lots of short sharp climbs, real leg busters. The traffic was getting heavy now and crossing roundabouts became a game of chicken. I arrived at the control in London at 8pm to cheers and clapping from the people manning the control. As I sat down to eat some food I was surrounded by people wanting to talk to me as well as a guy from a local radio station looking to interview me about the event. Head like cotton wool and all this going on around me, was it real? Time to move on with an hour or so of daylight left it would give me a chance to get back up the road before the dark slowed me down.

Just a few hundred yards out of the control, the barriers came down at a level crossing so off the bike and humph it onto my shoulder for a cross over the bridge. Another few miles down the road and I could not find my turn out of town. A phone call back to control and some checks of the map found the road. Another few miles down the road and got lost again this time after descending down a long hill. Called in at a local taxi office for directions and you’ve guessed it back up the hill again (damn it) Couldn’t work out where I went wrong but put it down to tiredness which added 10km to the leg.

It was dark by this time so the whole leg would have to be done in the dark slowing things up. After about 15km out of London the rider who eventually finished first passed me as he headed to the finish, nothing much was said as he passed.

As I closed in on the control at Gamlinay another rider approached heading south, this time a German guy called Emanuelle, stopped and had a chat for 5mins as both of us had ridden on our own for many hours. It was good to speak to someone. We went on our way with a shake of the hands and wishing each other good luck and a safe ride.

Finally arrived back at Gamlingay just before 1am on the Tuesday morning. The folks at the control advised that Campbell, my travel companion from Johnstone Wheelers, was asleep at this control along with another couple of riders. So joined in and settled down for a few hours rest.

By the time I woke 1½ hours later Campbell was gone, he said it was me coming in with my dancing shoes which woke him. It was his farting which kept me awake!!

Up and off for 4am and into the cold dark morning, just trying to push as far north as possible before the morning traffic picked up. The long leg back to Thurlby was beginning to take its toll on me, feet were hurting again as well as my crotch, the lumpy roads helped a little allowing me to get out of the saddle on a regular basis. Started to pass a few riders who were heading south for the turn at London. Control at Thurlby gave me 1272km on the clock with 71½hrs gone.

I stayed at the control a little longer than intended as I was feeling so tired, eventually cracked on at 9am for 35km of hills before a flat section into Lincoln. On this leg I was really fighting against sleep as the temperature rose, eventually had to stop for a few minutes at the side of the road, slumped over my bars trying to get it together and forget about the pain in my feet and my ass.

Struggled onto Lincoln arriving just after midday and only 70km to go.

A can of cold coke, a sandwich and a few minutes snooze while I sat on the throne saw me ready to roll for the final section. Struggling now to follow the route sheet as I kept forgetting the instructions. Tried reciting them over and over as I went along but still forgot. No surprise then when I got lost just outside Lincoln so out with the map and route sheet and a struggle to understand where I was. Eventually got back on course after a 4km detour. Hit the flat section now which was good for the legs but hard on the ass and feet with no change of position and constant peddling. Constantly in and out of the saddle to ease the pain. Eventually could take it no more and pulled up at the side of the road and off with the shoes to massage the feet then on with some Vaseline to sooth my ass. This helped for a little while. The last section into Thorne saw a stretch of road which ran dead straight along a canal for 5miles. It seemed as if I would never get to the end! Used all of the mental tricks to try and keep moving. Decided that it would hurt whether I went fast or slow but at least faster would end the pain sooner. So upped the pace a few gears and hunched down over the bars to push along. This worked for most of the road before the pain broke through again so it was up and out of the saddle once more.

Last few km’s now just keep it rolling.

Made it at last in exactly 80hrs covering 1417 official kms plus 15 unplanned with just 3 ½ hours sleep.

Went for a sleep with all my sweaty gear on, managed to get a few hours before I woke again. A long shower, a shave and some clean clothes made me feel a little better. Hung around until Campbell came home just before 1am Wednesday. We sat up for a few hours swapping stories and laughing at all the silly little things that happened during the event. Eventually sprawled out on some chairs for a few more hours kip.

What an event!

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2005 10:40 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2005 10:24 am
Posts: 1
Location: The Empty Quarter
Well done!

Campbell Crombie's report on the LEL (mentioning Robert, and containing a picture of the pair) is at -

Hope it proves of interest.

I keep having transmission trouble on my bike - my legs get tired....

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 11:33 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2005 11:22 pm
Posts: 1

Your LEL was (only!) 28 hours faster than mine.

You timed yours with a watch, I needed a calendar.

An amazing acheivement, and massive respect

Alex Pattison.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 12:11 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2005 8:10 am
Posts: 702
Hi Alex
Thanks for that, glad to see that you made it too. Still feeling the effects of the effort as my toes are still a little numb.
Taking it easy for the rest of the year now doing nice short runs, what an event the LEL was though really glad that I took part.

See you next year at Audax events


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 1:09 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2005 12:45 am
Posts: 1
Location: Bexleyheath
Well done Roberto, you were much faster than me :) below are some links to other write ups, mine included;

Mine [Steve Airey];

Phillip Magnus :

Phil Chadwick ;

Jamie ;

mseries ;

Don't stop pedalling

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