LEL(London-Edinburgh-London) 2022 Ride Report by Michael Henderson

Unofficial ride report captured from Slack
I’ve completed LEL2022 and I couldn’t have done it without the events planned by Randonneurs Ontario.
JungAh from the Ottawa chapter completed as well, she’s not on here, but I saw and spoke with her several times throughout the event. A huge congrats to her and her experiences.
I’ll put a reply in this comment with my “thoughts a week later” that I created in point form a week later.
To summarize… if you want to do it, create a plan and execute. I set realistic distance milestones leading up to the event, bought whatever equipment I thought would eliminate hurdles when completing the ride and just went for it on event day.
Strava Link https://www.strava.com/activities/7630359149

– When packing the bike, I partially deflated the tires, leaving enough air to keep the beads on the rim (30psi?)
– I used much Masking tape and many old t-shirts for tube protection
– Everything had to come out of the bike bag at Pearson so have everything in separate bags (I had to dump the contents of my frame and top tube bag loose into the x-Ray machine)
– Bike bag also contained shoes and helmet in their own bags, and “travelling compression bags” one with kit for the start line and two with the contents of each drop bag that went out
– As you used a tool for disassembly, I should have put it in the bike bag (couldn’t remount fender without an 8mm wrench)
– Get the basemap for where you’re travelling to! I run an old Garmin 520 and it’s memory is really small, this meant I couldn’t load the entire UK and had to spend time clipping the map close to the route
– I brought the GPS to start line early to verify base map, and it didn’t work! I had to get the tech desk to help set it up (I hadn’t renamed the file correctly)
– I was an hour early to the start line and was glad to have the spare 15 minutes to hit the bathroom
– I worked with others for as long as I  could, this kept the speed high for a long as possible, burnt down the kms early to create a buffer for sleep later (pack broke up around 10-midnight)
– I wish I had more knowledge of each section and could have made better “keep going” decisions. Other people knew the elevation gain/kilometres of what was ahead, I would have stopped and slept at 8am if I knew the punishment that was to follow (and I was mentally annihilated by 2pm)
– I started at noon and only rode overnight the first night. Other people stopped often for shorter sleeps. Whatever works!?
– 2hr sleep followed by longer sleeps (said an experienced volunteer to me) and it worked for me. Nights 2-4 I slept from 4 to 5 hours
– Carbohydrates in the water bottle, solid sugar snacks every 30-60 minutes, and emergency gels for the occasional bonk! (as it got cold I slowed down drinking, hadn’t thought about the reduction of calories going in)
– Lemon meringue pie for breakfast was a-ok
– I stopped for supplies mid-section only once as I wasn’t making it to the next control with what I was carrying, but it burnt a ton of time, so always pushed to the next control when I was able
– Actually another time around 9:30pm I came across a country store with a dozen bikes and bought all kinds of novelty sugar & drinks (anybody ever have a Bakewell?!)
– On food, the ride was a culinary treat – every control had something rich with flavour. Curries, haggis pakora, lasagna, soups of all flavours… SO MUCH apple crisp with custard! And a gooseberry crisp… neeps & tatties! Scrambled eggs, ham, has browns and square sausage and sausage links and WHISKY IN SCOTLAND, I swear I ate enough in food to make back my cost of entry
– Wet wipes and chamois cream worked, but only for so long, everyone I talked to about butt-issues was going through it. Awful pain, giant sores, but around 7pm it got so numb I could sit and ride again (???)
– A jersey can last forever, bibs… not sure. My first pair lasted 900km and I changed twice after that (bibs in drop bags sent ahead)
– Energy foods and carb powder sent ahead in drop bags worked amazing
– Tubeless is clutch. I went full-send on all descents and at one point I dinged a pot hole hard, no tube to pinch flat meant I rode straight past the two people changing tubes around the corner
– I installed new tires, chain, derailleur cable prior to the right and regret none of it
– I applied chain lube at overnight controls
– New gel grip tape (Bontrager) and gel bar pads (Fizik) were a gift from the old gods compared to how I rode the bike previously
– Some people talked, some didn’t, some wanted to be pulled after I went by, but when a group passed by it was mentally motivating to work harder, I’d push to stay on way harder than when I was riding alone
– Time in hand meant a pint at the pub before bed!
– I’d see the same people over the course of a day, sleeping different times at different locations, these encounters were fun andid look forward to hearing how they were making along
– If I knee the next control meant sleep, then let it rip. We’d get moving and pick up people an hour out and absolutely freight train into controls
– One guy went full TT for the last 32km into the control where we’d sleep, dropped 4 riders (one was a trike!) and I chewed my bar staying on for that time savings
– I’d eat, rest and faff about at controls to let food work its way in and give my feet time to breathe. When I slept I’d eat straight away, then sleep & eat again as soon as I woke up.
– The dynamo made this easier, the headlight with proper beam (German stvo(?) rated) was so good at night! Not having to charge the headlight or tail lights was great. And during the day with the lights off I could charge my phone and then I’d charge the garmin when the lights were on.
– There were so many outlets at the stop that if I had of carried a plug charger/power banks it would have been fine as well
– People rode any and every kind of bike. I have a basic steel road frame with clearance for 35mm tires (I rode 30mm and fenders) but people had everything from titanium touring bikes to decade-old rim brake aero roadies. I think the Euros don’t have the same space/spending that we do and make use of what they have for everything. It’s admirable.
– So many mixed feelings on the last section.  I put on a trigger song to get it all out early at about 40km to go. Elation of completion, sadness that it was all over, confusion about what to do next.
– This was a two season journey of that took a huge amount of time and money, both for physical and equipment preparation. And it was amazing. Glory be to the wife and all hail the bike.
– My toes are still numb a week and a day later
– Cheapest self-guided, self-propelled, all-inclusive vacation I’ve ever been on

Waterfalls 1200km Ride Report by Dave Thompson

Pete had a fascinating setup with his 1200k that made maximum use of a very small group of volunteers that included his wife and daughter.

There is a cluster of hotels about 18km from his house. The ride started at a park near the hotels and each ride segment ended and started at his house – a clover.  That sounds simple but the key was that the segments routed by those hotels late in each segment, with an info control in the vicinity of those hotels, so that in fact you ended each day’s riding before you finished the segment, ate some dinner, got some sleep, and then finished off the segment the next morning at “registration central” in his huge garage that had seating, breakfast etc.  You then hit the road again, starting the next segment.

Thus my first day’s ride wasn’t the segment length of 407k but rather 389 (or thereabouts). Day 2 finished off the Day 1 segment and then ended back at the hotels; same with Day 3 finishing off Day 2 and Day 4 finishing off day 3 but ending at his house.   This setup had the effect of shortening Day 1 by that 18k and lengthening Day 4 from the published length of 201 to the balance-of-Day-3+Day4 length of 219.

(Note that the 18k has a variation depending on which hotel you picked).

I visited a grocery store and stocked my little hotel fridge with enough for dinners and a small bite to eat as the main breakfast was at Pete’s place.

Not rocket science but I considered it ingenious.  Otherwise there would have been extra hotel costs, more difficulty providing breakfast etc.  There was no one frowning at us having a celebratory beer at the end.  To top it all off, Pete and his main volunteer Marcia shuttled us to our hotels at the end of the 4th day.

Under-Promised and Over-Delivered always wins out.

Oh – and the route was interesting.  I saw parts of Niagara Falls from the US perspective that I had not seen from the Canadian side.  Other waterfalls within the Finger Lakes provided wonderful scenery (one of which is higher than Niagara but of course has a lot less water flow); I found out that according to local lore, Seneca Falls (the town), or at least the bridge, provided inspiration for “it’s a wonderful life”.   I expected hills and the area delivered – not extreme but the third day had some real punch to it with short steep hills.

Last but not least, Pete ordered up a brisk tailwind for the last 100k northbound.