LEL (1,400km)

London Edinburgh London, or LEL, is a “randonnee” cycling event held every four years. To complete the event, riders must cover the 1,418 km (886-mile) round trip from London (England) to Edinburgh (Scotland) – and back – within 116 hours and 40 minutes. 1,000 cyclists from 33 different countries attempted this feat in 2013 – alongside 3 ElliptiGO riders: Alan McDonogh, Steve Cook and Idai Makaya.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

Relaxing at the motel with the kids – after fitting the bike for the big ride (27 July 2013).

LEL 2013 Event Report by Idai Makaya:

We’d committed to attempting the LEL feat back in August 2012 and I had commenced my training for the event from 1 January 2013. As a team we had maintained daily contact throughout the 7-month training period and had shared all relevant preparation information, as well as developing our group approach and riding strategy for the event. We had synchronised our training plans to ensure that by July 2013 we could all sustain a similar pace over similar distances – and we had made sure we shared learnings and feedback from all our long training rides leading up to the big challenge. We didn’t follow the same training programmes – we just used the same training objectives and end goals.

My Minimalist training approach was extremely simple. There is a noticeable switch towards exponential increases in energy expenditure on the ElliptiGO whenever a rider strives to sustain average speeds above 14 mph. So the training strategy I employed aimed to maintain as much of my training as possible at an average pace above 14 mph – to ensure the intensity of training was much higher than would be experienced during the event itself – and to develop efficiency at higher speeds.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

Idai at the ElliptiGO PR location – at LEL Registration (Saturday 27 July 2013).

Efficiency at higher speeds was important because knowing that I could perform moderate-distance rides at average speeds well above 14 mph gave me the confidence that I would probably be able to ride almost indefinitely at the speeds between 10-12 mph required to complete the LEL challenge within the time-limits. Everything we did in training was specific to the goal we had set out to achieve.

So the training programme had unfolded as follows: 35-miles easy, rest day, 35-miles hard, rest day, 70-80 miles moderate – followed by a rest day. That amounted to about 150-miles per week during peak training. Closer to the event I had also put in four rides considerably longer than 80-miles – mainly as ‘practice runs’ to make sure my fitness levels and pace ability were correct for that point in the training cycle. My longest pre-LEL ‘practice ride’ was the 400k (250-mile) Manchester to London Ride UK 24 Sportive Challenge.

Stretching played an important role in my overall training routine – to keep my muscles flexible at all times (and especially under conditions of high fatigue)…

Almost daily, I would also perform advanced full-body stretching sessions (which included doing the full splits) to ensure my muscles were not tightening up from the fatigue of long distance training.

For variety – and to alleviate the inevitable boredom which would sometimes arise due to doing so much riding – I would also cross-train in the gym by lifting weights (to build strength in all the muscles of my body) and by performing a technical kick-boxing martial arts session (using the punching bags in the combat sports section of my local gym). Both sessions would take place on the same day each week (with the martial arts sessions used as a warm-up for the weight training) and this cross-training session would be performed just once each week.

That was my full training programme, in a nutshell.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

The complete ElliptiGO Team: Alan, Steve and Idai at LEL Registration – 27 July 2013.

Alan and Steve had prepared in a loosely similar way to myself – and especially Alan’s training was quite similar to mine (apart from the fact that he was relying on a much higher weekly base mileage by often doubling up on the long rides on consecutive days, on most weekends, which was adding 70-80 extra miles to his total weekly mileage). Alan was also cross-training by adding running sessions and additional cycling sessions on his road bike, in addition to his standard ElliptiGO training.

Below is a day by day summary of how the LEL event progressed, from Sunday 28 July 2013 to Friday 2 August 2013:

Day 1:

We set off on Sunday 28 July 2013 at 6:15am, giving us an absolute time-limit of 2:55am London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.on Friday 2 August 2013 (to complete LEL within the 116 hours and 40 minutes time-limit). The atmosphere was positively electric!

Strong tailwinds suggested a 240-mile day could be ‘cheaply’ achieved within a planned 20 hours of riding. However, Steve had seemed unwell that morning and he was coughing a lot. As a result, he had seemed unable to engage his top gear in order to cover more ground – which was worrying. We were still having fun and enjoying the fabulous scenery – despite concerns about losing ground against the planned schedule.

We were barely on our planned time-schedule, despite the massive following tailwind.  We soon established a pattern of 30-minute breaks at controls and a sub-10 minute half way snack break, midway between controls. We were actually subsisting solely on ‘proper’ food – sandwiches and full meals – rather than sweets or sports nutrition.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

The complete ElliptiGO Team – LEL 2013, Day 1.

On that first day I had avoided a potentially ugly accident around mid-morning, but had to leap off bike to save myself from an impact. I’d injured both my heels and both my Achilles tendons when I did this, but the pain was very mild at the time. I was able to contain it by simply stretching my calves and Achilles tendons at every stop. This was to prove significant in days to come…

There was some stunning scenery in The Fens, with the rivers and dykes running beside the roads, and Steve was able to whistle to the grazing horses and make them run alongside us – which was an impressive spectacle! I lost my brand new gloves at Market Rasen control, which was another cause for concern, as I’d never ridden without padded gloves and feared the lack of padding could become problematic, with the vibrations coming from the rough road surfaces which dominated the LEL route. I’d also worried about my hands potentially freezing if I was to be caught in the rain. But I had no choice except to keep going at this point.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

Alan and Steve – mingling with a group of bikes…

We had finally hit the Pocklington control after over 20 hours of riding (and 208-miles covered, according to my GPS). If you’d asked me before LEL, I’d have been thrilled with those Day-1 stats, but with the massive tailwind and favourable riding conditions prevailing on that day we had actually looked at this performance as something of a missed opportunity – especially because we knew we’d have to face this same strong wind on the way back (and we would likely be much slower than we had anticipated in our pace planning).

Day 2:

We’d slept for 3 hours and then got ready to move again. As we left Pocklington control, London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.after breakfast (and after a shower in quite squalid conditions), we had realised that Steve was still not riding strongly.

We’d somehow managed to immediately go off-course while heading to Buttercrambe village, the first marker on the route map, and I actually spotted Steve’s back wheel hitting a deep but small pothole, which had resulted in a metallic sound and flickers of light reflecting off the wheel (suggesting spoke damage).

I immediately called out for him to stop and we soon discovered the back wheel was damaged. We quickly took it off and as we tried to replace the spokes we realised Steve had ordered the wrong spare parts – and his spare spokes were too long! The wheel was still spinning ‘true’, so we’d just pumped it up and put it back on – then continued to ride. But another hour had been lost due to this exercise – and because of the fact that we had to get back onto the correct route.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

Steve, Alan and Idai at Market Rasen north-bound control check-point (28 July 2013).

More trouble soon followed. Going through the hilly section heading to Thirsk control, near Castle Howard, I was tucked in behind the large group of bikes and my two ElliptiGO team mates ahead – and they had failed to call out a pothole hazard. So I had hit a huge pothole directly and my front wheel went right in. My back wheel lifted and that was the closest I had ever come to being thrown over the handlebars! I survived – and more importantly my front wheel survived – but the steering column seemed to have taken serious damage.

The stem of the steering column was moving about loosely within its collar and making a knocking sound with every pedal stroke – and the bike was not easy to steer, veering from side to side with very twitchy handling. I was not sure it would survive the rest of the ride at that point. But I soon altered my riding style to involve the handlebars less and that seemed to contain this problem for the time being – even reducing the frequency of the knocking sound.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

Alan & Steve enjoying the ride (LEL-Day 1).

Steve had mentioned at this point that he had nothing left in his legs – and he wanted out. I refused to acknowledge his comment at the time and simply told him we could chat it through at the next control point. I’d hoped he’d have recovered by then and that the hills would have smoothed out a little by Thirsk.

I knew how much Steve had invested in this event and I just wanted him to give himself a chance to genuinely fail (rather than pulling out of the event too soon). Of course our pace was suffering in a big way by now – and we were about 3 hours off the planned pace – but we still wanted to give Steve a chance, despite our pacing concerns.

At Thirsk we had tried to get service input for Steve’s bike and for my steering column, but to no avail. Steve didn’t mention pulling out when we got to Thirsk so we had all just pressed on. Around 4 pm on Monday 29 July – Day 2 – it was clear we really needed to pick up the pace, or else our mission would have had to be called off. We were over 4 hours off the planned pace by then. Alan and I spoke to Steve about it and Steve then declared he was pulling out. It was an emotional point in the journey for me – and probably for Alan and Steve as well.

We had parted company with Steve at Barnard Castle and Alan and I had entered the Yad Moss climb without Steve. Alan and I had agreed we’d need to ride together much less formally from this point, in order to play to each other’s strengths. He was lighter in weight and could ascend hills faster – whilst I was quick on the flat sections – so Alan went ahead of me through the Yad Moss ascent. We’d enjoyed this section, with the splendid scenery and complete isolation, but had made up no time at all against schedule – due to all the climbing.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

After Alston village we had put in a huge push through Brampton and into Scotland – all the way to Moffat – averaging about 14 mph between Brampton and Moffat. We had definitely started to gain time against plan, but we couldn’t reach Edinburgh in a single stretch of riding because we simply got too drowsy and had to camp at Moffat for 90 minutes’ sleep.

Day 3:

We were up and riding quite promptly after our 90-minute nap and breakfast. We had ascended through the misty hills of the Devil’s Beeftub climb outside Moffat, pleased that we wouldn’t have to come back the same way due to the Edinburgh loop in the course. The weird thing here was that Alan got about 5 minutes ahead and was being drenched by thunderstorms quite regularly, while I was dry and untouched all the way to Edinburgh!

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

Edinburgh was something of a landmark for us, because we’d got to half way through LEL in about 54 hours – meaning the time-limit was theoretically beatable. Again Alan had set off slightly ahead of me into the climbs, going towards Traquair. I’d found this section to be one of the most scenically rewarding, although the climbing was quite impressive too – and I recall some of the uphill drags enduring for well over 10 km at a time, in this section.

Alan and I had met up at Traquair and Eskdalemuir, but I was feeling really bad from Eskdalemuir onwards (when the rain had really started to pour and I was completely soaked for a couple of hours). Alan and I had ‘formally’ agreed after leaving Traquair that we’d each take our chances separately, to increase the chances that at least one of us would finish – if not both of us. We planned to do this by employing riding strategies aimed at playing to our individual strengths in order to maximise our individual pace – something which is harder to do as a duo. But we’d left the option open to ‘rejoin forces’ in the coming days, if the terrain and conditions looked more suitable for a team ride again.

After Eskdalemuir control point I was struggling to maintain my body temperature and was actually going into mild hypothermia on the long downhill stretches – meaning I had no strength left whenever I’d met the next uphill stretch. After coasting downhill for a couple of minutes at high speed – in the cold rain and without doing any pedalling – my body would completely cool down and become inefficient at producing the optimal power required to climb a long and steep hill in comfort. This particular section was very rural and really isolated, but I was not in the frame of mind to fully appreciate the scenic beauty that prevailed. My pace was frighteningly slow because I couldn’t pedal consistently to remain warmed up (because of the stop-start riding required to ascend and descend all the long hills).

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

On The Scenic Trail to Edinburgh…

Getting closer to Brampton I was somewhat recovered (physically) because the rain had stopped and the terrain had become much less undulating as we had left Scotland, allowing me to pedal without taking any breaks. So my riding speed had normalised again, but I was beginning to hallucinate mildly (from the sleep deprivation over the previous three days) and the long straight road for the last 10-miles into Brampton had seemed to take an eternity to get through.

I could barely stay awake by that point of the journey…

I’d met Alan again at Brampton and although he’d brought up the prospect of us riding together from there onwards I had felt he was still the fresher of the two of us (and I desperately wanted him to keep going), so I had told him I was going to sleep there because I had thought going through the Yad Moss hills in the dark was too dangerous when I was so tired. So Alan had opted to do one more riding leg and then sleep at Barnard Castle – so we could theoretically have met again at Barnard Castle control point, if all was to go according to plan.

The terrain from Barnard Castle would be flatter and more suited to us riding together again – and I had truly envisaged that we could successfully team up from there until the end. But things went wrong for me in a big way at Brampton. There had seemed to be a lot of confusion with the bed monitoring system – as the dormitory was full – and new beds were constantly being added to accommodate new riders. I had waited 30 minutes for a new bed to be set up and when I finally got in I did not receive a wake-up call at 3 am – as had been booked. I was frequently disturbed and woken up by people coming in and out of the dormitory, but nobody came to wake me specifically.

It got to a point where I was no longer even tired, so I had switched on my mobile phone to check the time and was shocked to see it was now 7am! I was booked to be woken up at 3 am – so it looked like the 4 hours we’d almost gained back the previous day were all lost London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.again and there’d be very little chance of catching Alan at the next control point. In fact, my whole LEL challenge was in jeopardy at this point…

I already knew at that moment that the only way to reach the finish line within the 116 hour 40 minute cut-off would be to ride continuously from that point until the end – without sleeping – and even that would just be ‘shading it’ (with the strong headwinds we expected for the final stretches of the ride). But I still had considerable optimism remaining and I chose to focus on smaller riding segments – which I understood better.

So I decided I’d cut the remainder of the ride down into two 24-hour ‘time-trials’. I would focus only on the next 24 hours of riding, knowing I’d just inadvertently had 6 hours of sleep (which meant I should have been good for a solid 24 hour stretch without sleep breaks). I’d then re-evaluate the situation after a full 24 hours of riding – and I hoped I would have built up enough of a ‘time-cushion’ to be able to sleep just a little bit, before continuing for the final stretch of LEL 2013.

Day 4:

Getting to Barnard Castle it was very hot – and there were now very few riders about. I felt London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.like I had drifted right to the back of the group and although my mind was in no condition to make calculations, it appeared I was well over an hour adrift of the latest time required to get through the control in time to make the cut-off. The volunteers I’d met there had suggested I would need to average 12 mph (overall pace) between there and the end, if I was to beat the cut-off time.

So I realised that I still had quite a bit of work to do over the next two days. It had rained on me in the stretch from Barnard Castle to Pocklington – basically all afternoon. On the final leg to Pocklington I’d once again struggled to find Buttercrambe village (as was the case on the outbound journey!) and I had got excellent directions from a nice lady whom I had passed standing on her driveway outside her car (she was just getting home from work).

Then my headlight batteries had faded and I was led all the way to Pocklington by a nice Canadian guy – who not only helped me save time (by using his GPS device to navigate the way) but also lit the way for me with his headlight. My bag drop was at Pocklington, so I had changed my kit and batteries there and then started out again. From Pocklington to Market Rasen was a long stretch and I got lost endless times, wasting about 30-miles riding on the wrong routes or trying to find the official route.

The worst time-wastage point of the entire ride was at Humber Bridge, where I’d spent well London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.over an hour going around town trying to find the official route – after I’d got lost coming off the bridge. Luckily, two riders with GPS came off the bridge just as I had got back there (for the third time) to retrace my steps and they helped me find my way out of the town centre.

It looks like their GPS was not using the official LEL route though, because when we’d been going quite a while towards Caistor I lost track of them (as they had suddenly picked up their pace) and I then realised we were not on the official course. It took a long while for me to find my way to Caistor and back onto the formal course. I eventually reached Market Rasen early on Thursday morning. Lots of riders were sleeping there, so it was nice to finally be part of the main group again. But to do so I’d skipped a day’s sleep – and I was fully aware of that – having now ridden for well over 23 hours.

Day 5:

The scenery was magnificent along the LEL 2013 route.

I was very drowsy at that point, so I took a caffeine gel to pick myself up and immediately started looking out for a coffee shop where I could buy a cappuccino and a few bottles of Coke to keep me boosted. I’d clung to that image of a frothy cappuccino as some sort of symbol of ‘salvation’ from fatigue, but I never actually found a coffee shop! Group navigation was a ‘total shambles’ coming out of Market Rasen and I was just riding with a large group of bikes, rather than self-navigating.

We kept getting lost. We got lost about 8 times in the first two hours after Market Rasen control. It was hard to read and follow the map while riding in a large, close-together group of bikes (due to safety concerns, really) so it was often easier to just follow the ‘herd’. But I was losing a lot of time as a result of all the wrong turns.

I eventually struck off on my own and things went well for a while. I soon found a petrol station café along the route where I could buy lots of Coke and lots of chocolate bars (but London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.no coffee or cappuccino!) so after that I would not have to stop for meals at the controls (and I could potentially save about 20 minutes extra at every control, as a result). I also bought new sunglasses for £4, as I’d now lost both the pairs of glasses that I’d brought (as well as my expensive riding gloves, which had vanished on the first day of LEL at the northbound Market Rasen control)! After the stop at the petrol station café I’d felt rejuvenated, but I somehow missed a left turn just after the petrol station and rode for 3-miles before ‘smelling a rat’…

I had now wasted about 40-miles of extra, needless riding (with all the wrong turns) and was struggling to even see the map – now that my eyes were so tired. The first ‘24 hour time-trial’ ride had failed to resolve the time-deficit I was up against, so I had re-framed my expectations and was now looking at how to ‘survive’ a second 24-hour riding stretch. I had now planned on riding all the way to the end of LEL without a sleep stop – which would come to a total of 43 hours of continuous riding, without any sleep. I knew it would be all about stimulants from that point on, because I was already barely awake at this stage.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

I was careful to get in and out of control points as quickly as possible, to save time…

Around this time I got together with a guy on an upright trike who had started at the same time as us and, hence, was also behind time. He said he’d been asked to put in a fast leg to the next control to show he still had a chance of making it to the end of the event within the cut-off time. I felt I should stick with him, being in exactly the same situation with the timing, so we had ridden hard together – averaging about 14 mph going into Kirton and The Fens. I had then turned the control stop around swiftly (within 10 minutes) and had left before the guy on the upright trike (I later found out that he and another cyclist had a major accident with a car, after leaving this control point – which had ended the LEL challenge for them both).

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

Alan in full flight…

From Kirton to St Ives was ‘hell on earth’ – with the heat at its peak and the headwind directly in our faces. It was hard to stay awake and it was hard to get anywhere near 10 mph average pace at this stage, due to the fierce headwind.

I was losing time again – and there was simply no way of maintaining the 10 mph minimum average speed I had needed to hit the finish before the cut-off time. But I had figured the wind would die down later in the evening, giving me a chance to ride fast to the finish line. So I just had to keep moving and ‘survive’ the daytime conditions.

In The Fens I actually saw one rider just topple off his bike into the bushes, asleep. To his credit he sprang back up and got right back on. But that incident had me worried and I stopped at another petrol station to buy more Coke and to cram more chocolate down my throat. The roads here were straight – going all the way into the horizon – and the winds were relentless.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

The lonely road back to London…

That was a mind-numbingly boring combination of conditions. My eyes were only half open and the heat was frightening. I kept aiming just to get to the end of each road, or to the top of each incline. That’s as far as I could commit to at that stage. But I had stopped my calf-stretching exercises two days beforehand and my Achilles tendon injuries from the accident on the first day had begun to play up in a big way now, as I had fought the headwinds.

Seeing a fellow rider fall asleep in front of me had made me think a brief ‘power-nap’ would be in order, as I was actually swerving all over the road myself. The incident had brought it home to me that we were now moving into ‘life and death’ territory, as the traffic rush-hour loomed. I couldn’t find anywhere suitable to sleep though – because I needed shelter from the sun (or I’d probably die, lying still in that sunshine even for 15 minutes)!

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

The Fens…

Then I saw a churchyard with a cemetery, well shaded with a nice sloping lawn where I could sleep almost upright, with my bike parked right next to me. I’d stopped there and downed a second half-litre bottle of Coke in the shade, before getting settled to eat two (now melted) chocolate bars. I sent out an online position-update through my mobile phone just as I prepared to nod off, but the jokes that came back at me in response to trying to sleep in a cemetery got me laughing so much I’d soon felt wide awake again. The Coke had helped too, so I just got back onto the ElliptiGO and pushed on.

Reaching St Ives control was pivotal for me, because I had pulled back towards borderline positive territory, with regard to the time deadlines. I was told that if I tracked at about 10 mph from here on, I’d succeed. My brain was ‘dead’ by this point, so I couldn’t work it out for myself and was simply committed to just moving forward and stopping as little as possible. Leaving St Ives, the winds actually slowed somewhat, but the course became hillier again. The roads were still long, straight and deserted. It was blazing hot and the guys at the control point had told me it was now the hottest day of the year – well over 30 degrees Celsius.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

Exhausted and battling drowsiness – between St Ives and Great Easton controls – in a bid to ride non-stop for 43-hours, in order to beat the LEL time-limit.

I was really struggling to remain awake by this stage and was beginning to wonder how I’d stay awake for 6 more hours. It was evident now that if I stuck to the task I could just about beat the time-limit, but it was hard to see how this would be possible (as that would amount to 43 hours of non-stop riding…and staying awake)! As I had drifted into more daydreaming I was sure I could see a red Toyota Prius with an ElliptiGO on its roof rack. That couldn’t be my buddy Stuart Blofeld – surely? The car had beeped at me a few times and the driver had waved – it was Stuart! I soon passed him beside a large pub (with crowds of locals sitting out on the grass) and he told me he would park up and ride with me to the end of LEL.

Stuart Blofeld is a top ElliptiGO rider and a competitive 100-mile ultra-marathon runner, so I couldn’t have had a better (or more understanding) companion at this point in the ride. The first thing I had told Stu when he caught up with me on the bike was to just keep talking to me – because it was only by keeping my brain engaged that I could stay awake at this point. So we chatted and talked about life in general – even some really important stuff. I still remember all the stuff we discussed, it has stuck in my brain. There were some really meaningful conversations had that evening.

We had entered a new part of the course on a loop which was not part of the outbound trip, so the terrain was all new to me. The roads were very hilly and often comprised just single-lane strips. The road surfaces were terrible and the bumps in the road were hurting my hands and my thighs, now that I was so tired.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

A photo of my children on my handlebar map holder (and my wife’s hair bands – used to hold my map in place) had lifted my spirits during the ‘dark’ moments of LEL 2013…

We had soon set up a new routine. Stu would pull stuff out of my bag, sprint ahead up the next big hill, and get off his bike to wait by the roadside as I came up the hill slowly. Then I could snatch the food from him at a slow speed and keep moving without stopping. It was so hot that the need for toilet breaks was virtually eliminated – so I was wasting no time stationary at all now.

Great Easton was the next control point and we had to ‘earn’ our way there with endless hill climbing. Whenever Stu dashed ahead to set up a food handover I would often start drifting to sleep, even if he was just 50 yards ahead. We’d unfortunately missed Great Easton control because vandals had removed all the LEL signage and we had pressed on to Little Easton and the next village after that, before realising what had happened.

Going back up all those hills was hugely disappointing on the ride back to Great Easton, but when we got back to Great Easton control we had a plan in place already to get through the control in well under 10 minutes. As I got my brevet card stamped Stu had rushed around getting me food and mixing me lukewarm cups of strong coffee (lukewarm, so I could gulp them down really fast, without getting burned). I had scoffed down five bananas and a few of the lovely meat strips they had available there – and two fellow riders ‘donated’ their last two caffeine tablets to me to use – saying it looked like I needed them more than they did! Then we were off again – all in less than 10 minutes, altogether. We had 27-miles left at this point – and less than 3 hours to play with.

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

The End… with Stuart Blofeld and Alan McDonogh in Loughton.

I had already decided that I’d rather fail in the hills while giving my all – than take it easy and play it safe, only to get there just a few minutes after the deadline. So I had charged up the hill leaving Great Easton and was pushing 16 mph pace on the uphill stretches there. My Achilles tendons were hurting incredibly (from the accident I’d had on Day 1) and they were so sore at this point that I couldn’t even put my foot down when I needed to stop on the bike at intersections. So I had to ride in circles at intersections in order to avoid stopping.

We made the ‘mistake’ of taking the “daytime route option” through the hilly country lanes (instead of the faster and flatter B-road “night route option”) and that had meant some tremendous uphill pushes, which I was now doing as sprint repeats. I was pushing all-out up the hills then resting on the way down, to prepare for the next hill. This went on for some time, then Stu had told me we had just 4-miles left to go until the end. I saw the M25 motorway and I knew we were reaching Epping and Loughton. It was basically over…

We had punched the air and celebrated quietly at this point – and I had asked Stu if we could do a warm-down (slow ride), so that I could start to recover before we reached the finish line. We came in slowly, but those last few miles still took ages longer than I had expected, with a very winding route back to the finish line. With Stuart’s help I’d somehow managed to survive 43 hours of non-stop riding.

We’d hit the finish line with about 20 minutes to spare – and after chatting with people at the finish line, checking in and getting my brevet card stamped; I’d ended LEL with just 15 minutes left in hand (final time: 116 hours 24 minutes and 42 seconds). Alan was waiting for me at the finish line – he’d got in about 90-minutes earlier than I did. We’d both done it – we’d conquered LEL 2013 – on ElliptiGOs!


The full LEL 2013 route can be seen in the image below and a short video our ride can be viewed on the video displayed above. The official press release from ElliptiGO Inc. can be found on the Endurance Sportswire Website

London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 - 1418km (887-miles) By ElliptiGO Bike.

The London Edinburgh London (LEL) 2013 Route Map.

You can view my full check-in history, with dates and exact times, in the chart below. The control check-point layout along the route can be seen in the image above:

Location & Distance Covered Date & time
Started (0 km) 28/07/2013     06:15:00
St Ives (99 km) 28/07/2013     11:36:58
Kirton (180.6 km) 28/07/2013     16:23:11
Market Rasen (248.9 km) 28/07/2013     20:58:04
Pocklington (333.6 km) 29/07/2013     02:51:26
Thirsk (399.3 km) 29/07/2013     11:48:55
Barnard Castle Castle (466.3 km) 29/07/2013     17:24:03
Brampton (548.1 km) 29/07/2013     23:29:04
Moffat (622.7 km) 30/07/2013     04:43:47
Edinburgh (703.5 km) 30/07/2013     12:24:43
Traquair (745.9 km) 30/07/2013     16:41:07
Eskdalemuir (791.9 km) 30/07/2013     19:46:48
Brampton (850.0 km) 31/07/2013     00:06:47
Barnard Castle (933.7 km) 31/07/2013     12:45:38
Thirsk (1000.2 km) 31/07/2013     17:21:38
Pocklington (1066.4 km) 31/07/2013     22:28:57
Market Rasen (1151 km) 01/08/2013     05:19:08
Kirton (1219.4 km) 01/08/2013     10:50:18
St Ives (1300.2 km) 01/08/2013     17:42:44
Great Easton (1373.7 km) 01/08/2013     23:52:50
London Loughton  (1419.3 km) 02/08/2013     02:39:42