Sunday 30th July 5am as riders are riding into dawn on The 5th Transcontinental race, I will be starting the LEL audax. The 5am start is by special invite for riders who are going for it (it’s not a race, oh no!) so I blagged my way on there despite not wanting to give it the max. Some riders; Jasmijn Mueller and Darren Franks among them will probably be riding the 890 miles almost non stop, and fast, so I won’t be getting carried away keeping up with them from the start.
This is a different game altogether, drafting allowed and pre arranged sleep and food stops with support if you have problems. As an early starter I have 100 hours to complete, and like unsupported races the clock never stops. Bag drops of kit and food if you want mean a different type of planning. I intend to use this a test to see just how deep I could go; it could go horribly wrong though if the red mist descends.
The opportunity is there to be brave and mimic the super fast people at the TransAm and TCR. No sleep kit required, only the kit I’m riding in and no excess food to carry. The gaps between the locations (controls) you have to reach to get verification stamps are manageable without stopping, and each have food and beds to use. So will it go to plan, or am I just fooling myself, it will be interesting to check back afterwards.
Considering that at the start of the Transam the same distance took me 103 hours including 4 reasonable sleep stops (25 hours) with considerably more climbing and no support, it should be easy right?
Working on a reasonable average speed of 14mph and 20-30 minute stops at controls for food etc. here is how the plan might go.
- Start to Thirsk (150 beds so hopefully that many won’t pass me) – 252 Miles: Passing through 4 controls for 1hr40 delays should arrive Monday 00:38. History has shown if I do any more than this in one day then speed drops dramatically. Drop bag with shower kit and loose shorts to sleep in and air the stressed parts. Stop including food/shower and sleep max 4 hrs. Need to keep ahead of the bulge. Depart 04:38
- Thirsk to Edinburgh – 186 Miles: Passing through 3 controls and probably a big breakfast stop at Barnard Castle at 42 miles (if to early for cooked food at Thirsk.) Delays of 1Hr20 should arrive at Monday 19:20, then allow 40 minutes for good feed stop and freshen up. Second bag drop will probably only contain ride snack bars and trail mix refill, and wet wipes. Cold nights are not predicted.
- Edinburgh to Brampton – 93 Miles: Early Tuesday AM with two controls for 40 mins delay to arrive at 3:16 AM just as it gets proper cold. The idea is a to get 4 hrs sleep to do the next section over the Pennines at dawn leaving at 7:30 AM Tuesday Big Breakfast essential.
- Brampton to Thirsk – 93 Miles: With one control stop and the biggest climb on route this should be done by Tuesday 14:45 well ahead of the pack allow for a relaxed 1hr stop here to refuel, shower and maybe pack a spare pair of shorts in the drop bag in case of bad weather. Any kit must be carried to the finish from here now (could possibly leave it at St Ives for collection, it closes midnight Wed-Thur AM)
- Thirsk to London finish – 266 Miles: Allowing for stops but NOT for Fenland headwinds this could be done in one hit for a 1 PM Wednesday finish in under 80 hours which would be a good target. Fenland boredom relief in the dark and less traffic. That’s 20 hours early so any extra sleep required could be taken from Louth (23:20) onwards. With nothing to race for but pride it could all slow down from here on in though.
- With 50 bed slots at London lets hope for a snooze spot for a while before returning home, possibly retracing the route to St Ives (it’s 25 miles from home) to see the remaining riders as they come home and also re-visit the controls along the way.
So in recap that’s 14mph average for the 890 miles, with 16 hours of stops in total. Will it fly, only time will tell. The LEL site will have some form of rider tracking for when you log in and out of controls so you can follow to see how it goes. Nowhere to hide I guess.
Update: I am rider A30 and the live tracking page is now live ready for use during the event. LIVE TRACKING might even use it myself as the tired brain will be struggling with maths by then.
The route if you want to ride out and check out the riders LEL all routes