What the LEL?

“You’re seriously going to enter that?”

Hent’s view on my audaxing interests had mellowed a shade from his comment about me being mad at the beginning of this blog. He and Lanie were over for dinner last Saturday evening and our conversation had moved from cycling in general, to some stunning Joberg2c footage which had been used on a recent Avis TV ad. Hent raised an eyebrow at the 900km in 9 days schedule which prompted me to mention my intention to enter LEL (London-Edinburgh-London) next year. As we talked more, it dawned on me that I haven’t really mentioned LEL here on the blog.

Two or three months back Yoli and I were having dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, Taste just outside Somerset West on the R44. For a day or so I’d been wondering about whether LEL would be a good idea, but I knew there was no point considering it unless Yoli was comfortable with the idea. Given that we have work, family and friends in the UK, it’s not a difficult trip to combine with other things and no shortage of things to do whilst there.

A few things had sparked my interest in LEL. First of those was the distance – at 1,400km it’s actually longer than PBP albeit with an extra day allowed to compensate for that. The next attraction is that it is two years before the next PBP event in 2015. Whilst that may make it a tad ambitious in terms of my training, it will give me valuable practical experience of what a long audax event entails, allowing time to improve and refine my ideas on equipment and preparations before PBP. And finally, there is the question of whether I am made of the right stuff to complete these long audax rides. Hopefully LEL will help me answer that question before committing myself to the qualifying brevets and the final stages along the road to PBP.

Luckily, Yoli is extremely understanding and tolerant of my cycling addiction and immediately grasped the logic of adding LEL to the DC as training stages towards PBP. Although maybe the candlelit ambience, Anton’s excellent food and Ed’s superb wine helped get the idea across too.

So that’s how LEL came into the planning of my journey to Paris, and hardly a day goes by without some aspect of the going through my mind. The most often areas I find myself contemplating aren’t actually the cycling at all – I can train for that. The trickier parts to gauge are what a workable sleeping and eating pattern will be. I know from reading many accounts of PBP experiences that, aside from injury, over tiredness and lack of nutrition are big dangers as the hours and days wear on. An average speed of 20 KM/h sounds easy until you think about doing it five days in a row. Actually for LEL the real average is closer to 14 KM/h but you need to get out ahead of that speed to eke out time to eat and sleep, not to mention contingency for mechanicals.

For now though, it’s all about building the kilometres towards the DC. It’s been hard at times to get out training lately, especially with some very wet riding. But the looming prospect of a tough team 200km ride in November and needing to make a final decision on LEL by Jan 5th 2013 have served as more than enough motivation to keep cycling.

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