Sunday, December 9, 2012

Considering LEL in 2013? Just do it!

Mike D. heading towards Scotland

As one of the thirteen US riders who participated in London-Edinburgh-London in 2009, I've been asked with increasing frequency whether I'd recommend this next edition to others. In a word, YES! Run, don't walk, to the LEL website to learn more about the registration and preparation process for 2013. You will not regret it.

Completing LEL is one of my greatest achievements on or off the bike. In 2009, my third year of randonneuring, I'd never ridden an event over 600K. At 1400K, LEL was a significant step forward, but the slightly more generous time allowances, general camaraderie and outstanding level of event support made the ride seem remarkably manageable. Sure, there were some hills involved and several sections were fairly grueling, but overall the ride was a blast. Below is a short segment of the official LEL 2009 film by the irrepressible British rando-filmmaker Damon P to give you a little flavor of the magic. You can see me at 1:30 wearing a black jersey climbing Yad Moss.

How does one prepare for LEL? 1) Ride lots of miles, 2) Buy quality rain gear, 3) Ride more miles and 4) Set up your bike for comfort. The most challenging aspect of my ride involved travel logistics. Getting to LEL is not harder than most other events, but I had never flown with a bicycle before, nor had I traveled by public transit in a foreign city while schlepping a 50 lb. bike case. For those of you experienced with these joys, it will not be a problem.

There is no better, more cost-effective or enjoyable way to see Britain. If it were not for the cost of airfare and incidentals, I'd sign on again. All randonneurs should ride this event once in their careers.  I'll be riding a domestic 1200K in 2013 and saving my nickels for PBP 2015. To learn more about my experiences on LEL 2009, read my ride report.

Any questions? Just post them below in the comments section.

Up next: honing my goals for 2013.


  1. How easy was it to adapt to riding on the "wrong" side of the road? I worry that my traffic instincts might get me into trouble. I can't imagine navigating through downtown Saratoga Springs on the Westfield 600k with all the traffic moving in the other direction!


  2. Hi David - Surprisingly easy. Many of the roads are quite small and empty so there's lots of "middle of the road" riding thrown in. I seemed to have more trouble once I was very tired. Exiting controls was the hardest. I was reminded a few times which side of the road to start off on. Once in motion, it was not all that hard to adapt to. Riding with a Brit helped. There is not much as busy as Saratoga Springs on this route.