יום חמישי, 13 באוגוסט 2009

109. Ride Report LEL 2009


Ride report of LEL 2009. (Hebrew)

My ride started on Sunday at 13:30, but my ride story actually started on the Friday before the ride, but it's a whole story in itself, and (might) be told in another time.

Regsitration was on Saturday. I arrived well before my allocated time, and met friends from previous rides, and also met new friends. Queueing was long (about 2 hours,) and I was with Peter T (Brit_8 from the 1001 Miglia Italia,) and Manuel and Sylvia (very nice couple from Costa Rica, riding on a tandem) and Lev Broitman, and a rider from SIR (Seattle,) and 2 of his friends.

Sometimes one of us left the line to say hi to their friends, and returned. Peter T also went to help the volunteers at the registration table.

Start time was done in 2 main groups: 08:00 and 14:00 (actually, 13:30,) with groups of about 50 riders leaving in 30 minutes intervals. I was allocated at 13:00, and so were Manuel and Sylvia, but most of my friends from the previous rides started at 08:00.

I chose to start at 14:00, because I knew I wouldn't sleep much the night before, and I was hoping to kip a little in the morning, before the ride. That didn't happen. I woke at 04:00, and left to the starting point at around 10:00.

- -

A little after 13:00 we left towards the starting point, were we waited.
The group was geterogenic, with riders from many countries.
We left at exactly 13:30.

The route started in a city, but pretty soon we left for the open roads.
As expected, Italians led the peloton, which broke pretty quickly into smaller groups of 10-20 riders each.
I noticed a Scottish rider was riding at a constant pace, matching to mine, and I tried to stay in his group (sometimes before him, and sometimes behind him.)
Chris (an SFR rider, from San Francisco) was in the same group.
Rain started.

We reached Gamlingay (65Km) pretty fast. I ate quickly and left immediately (8 mins total.)
I think I was one of the firsts (of my group) to leave.
Chris caught me. He's stronger than me, but he rode at my pace.
On every little climb he opened a gap, and then I'd caught up with him on the way down, or he slowed. Sometimes he didn't wait. Occasionally he missed the route and rode off.
I shouted to him, and he returned to course. Sometimes he was too far ahead for me to see him taking the wrong turn, and then suddenly he came up behind me.
My GPS saved me from going off course (that's one of the most important things I learned from Italy.)

In Thurlby (151Km) I asked about Lev, and they said he was there 3 hours ago (he started at 08:00, 5:30 hours before me!) I left after 35 mins.

In Washingborough (216Km) I asked about Lev, and he wasn't there yet.

This was an alarming sign for the success of his ride. I left after 50 mins.

At Thorne (321Km) we stopped to sleep. I had a cot, slept about 1:30 hours, and left the control after 3:10 hours.

Coxwold (411Km) was a nice control, run by Lynn (wife of a rider. Their daughter volunteered as well!) I left after about 1 hour.

It can be said that I rode with Chris till Middleton Tyas (463Km.)
He arrived in the controls before me, and left after me, and we rode a little together.
He told me that riding with me at my slow pace helps him keep his strengths for the rest of the ride.
I had a drop bag in Middleton Tyas, and I changed my clothes. I noticed I miscalculated, and I hadn't another pair of pants for the change on the way back (I must have put it in my other drop bag.)
I left after 45 mins.

Between Middleton Tyas and Alston (539Km) is the highest point (Yad Moss.)
I rode this section with 3 Germans from Berlin: Ralf, Nicole, Klaus.
They were very nice, and even waited for me when I had to change the GPS batteries.
Ralf rides very nicely. Klaus seems to ride like me, although I think he might be stronger, and Nicole also rides about the same as us.

I met Chris in Alston, and we even had beds (bonk beds.) It was very cold outside, and I was shiverring when I went outside to fill my water bottles, before hitting the bed.
I thought of sleeping 4 hours, but woke up after little more than 2 hours, and decided to leave.
I spent 5 hours in the control.
I was alone on the road, but pretty soon I was caught by a British female rider (sorry, cannot remember her name.) She said that this was her first long ride, and her riding buddy has packed already.
She had a Dynohub with a very bright lamp, which let her descent faster than me.
We rode about 50Km together, and we even crossed the border to Scotland together, but on the first hills she dropped behind me.

(All this time I kept thinking when I'll meet my 08:00 friends on their way back.)

I met the female rider again at Eskdalemuir (633Km,) and she said she bonked, and stopped to buy something to eat, and then she felt much better.
The rain stopped a little before the control.
One of the volunteers there was Phil C (Welsh rider. Did PBP several times, as well as 2 LELs. AFAIK - All on Fixed!) which I knew from PBP.

I also met Mike (Brit_5 from Italy, on his 3rd LEL) who was on his way back, with a problem in his bike (BB, or crank, don't remember,) who said he was hoping to finish by Wednesday night.

I left after about an hour to the return point at Dalkeith (716Km) on a beautiful morning, with a nice sun, and some clouds.
Chris passed me. I thought he was way ahead of me.

About half way there was a secret control, with food, and a guy with

Traditional Scottish Clothes (...) it was the only time in this ride that

I saw a man wearing this outfit.

When I left there after 10 mins, there were some long hills (8-10km, 3- 5%) with wide valeys between them. There started the nonstop flow of 08:00 riders.
While climbing slowly on one of the hills, someone shouted "Tal!" it was Rich (American_1.)

A hill or two afterwards I met Peter T and we hugged.
And then Roberto (Italian_2,) which I haven't met, and was sure he didn't show up for the ride. We stopped and hugged.
Soon after was John Spooner (Brit_1,) who said he was riding with Roberto and Ausilia (nd Italian female rider) all the way. We didn't hug.
Then I met Ausilia. A few words about her:
We met several times during the 1001 Miglia. She was in the cafe between Brugnato and Passo Pianazze, where I parted with Roberto.
She rides an MTB, and among other things, is the 24hrs world champion.
She came with her new bike - A Ti MTB.

She said that it was the last hill, and indeed soon after, a magnificent view opened to Edinburgh.
The weather was still nice, with a noon sun.
The way there was quick. In the control I got my 2nd drop bag, and there was my other full set of clothes.
I decided not to change, but to carry the whole set, and change at the next drop bag (at 969Km,) and "pay the price" in the climbs.
I really don't know what made me make this decision, but it saved my ride.
The Scottish rider's family was there, and they all sat together. Later he told me that his whole family volunteered at that control.
I left after about 35mins. The whole time I looked at the clock, to see when I'll arrive to the top of the first hil, so I'll know the gap to my 08:00 friends. I guessed 3 hours.

I climbed that hill slowly, as I still had about half the ride, and I was a little more than 3 hours there after them.
At the top of the hill I was hit with a severe head wind.
I was with another rider (JJ from yacf?) who said I could hide behind him.
He was on his smallest of 3 chainrings, about mid cassette, and was working hard to maintain 18 km/h on a 4% descent!
I believe the winds were more than 50km/h. Possibly even a lot more than 50km/h.
A little after the secret control it started to rain.
There was a boy who served rice pudding, and he asked me whether I want whiskey in it. I refused politely, and he sait "pity."

Leaving the secret control (after about 30 mins) it rained harder.
The rain kept getting harder and harder, until it was a real storm. The rain drops were very big, and under the trees they were even bigger.
There were also very small drops, stingy, I think it was hail.
I never rode in such conditions in my life.
(In PBP it rained, and there was a similar storm about twice, for 15 mins each time, but then everybody took cover because they knew it was short.)
In Scotland, it was clear to everybody that this weather can last for a good several hours, and it would be advisable to reach a good covered place.
I was riding with Pip, from London, who shouted from time to time "THIS IS LOVELY!"
But I'm not so sure he *really* meant it was so "Lovely"...
For a short time there was a Greek rider (Vasilis G) with us.
(To illustrate the storm intensity - Some riders got hypothermia, and were hospitalized!)
e finally reached Eskdalemuir (799 Km.) Quick dinner, and sleep.
The place was very small, maybe suitable for 50 riders, 17 of which in beds. In reality there were about 200 riders there that night, with a raging storm outside.
I asked Phil C why he doesn't ride, and he said "Twice is enough." I said "Once is enough!..."

There were no beds left, but I got a sofa (after the beds ran out, there were sofas, and then 2-chairs, and then single-chair, and then cardboards on the floor, then floor, then dinig room floor, then hallway floor (exposed to cold and winds from the open door,) and then the window sill in the dining room...)
My clothes were drenched with water, but luckily I had a full set of dry clothes in my bag. I slept with the dry clothes, hanging the wet clothes next to the heater in the dining room.

One of the sofa pillows was wet. I didn't think much of it, turned it upside down, and was fast asleep.
in the middle of the night it felt like someone dropped half a bucket of water on my head. The ceiling started to leak!
I woke up, moved the sofa about 20 cm, and wente back to sleep.
I slept about 4 hours, because I wouldn't leave in such weather in any case.
When I woke up, it was still raining, but was slowly getting better. Phil C said that the forecast says there will be 5-6 hours dry, and then the rain will return.
Suddenly I noticed I didn't have my Brevet card. I was anctious a little, but Phil C calmed me, and said that many riders lost their card, or it disintegrated, and he even gave me a note saying I was at that control, and the time of my arrival.
He said "it must be in your pockets somewhere" (did I say he was an experienced rider?...)
I ate quickly, changed to my wet clothes (they weer already half dry, which was ok,)
I put the dry clothes in my bag, and head off, after about 7 hours there.
It didn't rain, but the River Esk was flowing, and it seemed pretty high.

(The Scottish rider said it flows like in January, and that he never seen such a flow in summer.)
When I crossed the border back to England it was light. Chris passed me.

On the hills before Alston (894 Km) Sylvia and Manuel passed me, with 4 followers.
In the town of Alston (a little before the control) there pave at about 19% ascent, for about 460 meters. I rode it on the pavement.
In the Alston control there's a dry room. I put all my wet clothes there (and found my Brevet card,) wore my dry cothes from my bag, ate (and met yacfers, who started at 08:00, and were taking it easy,) and I changed back to my wet clothes which got even drier.
I met Manuel and Sylvia, and we talked a little. Sylvia left the dining room, and Manuel was stil there, and then he stood up to get going.
As he stood up, 4 other riders who were waiting for them stood up as well. :-)
I heard an announcement that there were additional 2 hours due to the severe weather.

Out of Alson, after about 1 hour, there was another clib to Yad Moss, which I did with Patrick (Londonner, riding a special recumbent, made by "the guy who invented the Compact Frame for Giant".) I climbed faster than him (after all, I caught him, but I slowed down and we talked throughout the climb.
He also have a Brompton (at home...) and was interested in mine.
On the descent he took off, but not too fast, and I'm guessing that if I wanted to, I could keep him in my sight, but I chose to enjoy.

In Middleton Tyas (969 Km) I changed clothes. I left the wete clothes in my drop bag, and the (used) dry clothes from the first day (I learned my lesson...) I left after about 2 hours.

I rode to Coxwold (1021 Km) with the 3 Berliners. We ate together, and they met another German, living in Canada. Nicole packed due to leg problems. I left after about 1 hour.
From there to Thorne (1110 Km) the 4 of us rode together. It was dark, and I navigated with the GPS. We didn't stop for too long, and it was a very fast section. I think it was one of my fastest sections in this ride.
We worked together nicely, taking our turn in the front, each pulled about 2km, at around 27 km/h.
We reached Thorne in the middle of the night. I saw a bike with the Israeli flag, and I knew it was Abraham (Avi) Cohen's bike, which made me certain I would meet my 08:00 friends there.
Most of the people in the control were still asleep, and they were slowly beginning to wake up.

Indeed, I met Peter T, Roberto, and Ausilia. They were about to leave, and I was too tired to leave with them.
I talked a little with Avi Cohen, ate a little more, and head off.
I understood that timewise, I was among the last ones of the 08:00. I left after about 1:20 hours.

I was very tired, and stopped for a kip in a bus stop.
There was no bench, but a bar to lean on. I leaned on it, and the bike, and kipped for 15 mins.
It gave me enough strength to reach Washingborough (1184 Km) where I again met my friends, and again was too tired to leave with.
I asked to sleep at the control, and they were surprised (it was the middle of the morning, and they didn't expect anyone to sleep there at daytime.) I slept alone in the room, about 45 mins, on a cot. I left after about 1:30 hours.

A little before Thurlby (1251 Km) it started raining again. I ate with the Canadian German, who said that the Berliners were about 1 hours behind him. I left after about 1 hour.
A list of the DNFs was published there, and I saw Lev packed at Thorne, after 321 Km.
I overheard a female rider from an adjacant table asking someone whether he plans to leave soon, and whether he was fast, because she was looking for company.
I gathered a little cuarage (and a lot of nerve) and approached her, saying I'm a slow rider, but doesn't make any navigational errors, and if she'll ride with me, she;ll get to the finish in time (she was an 08:00 starter.)
She agreed. It was Denice (from a village "near Manchester".) all the other riders from her clubhave packed, and she was left alone.
Denice said she did sport all her life, and recently she started riding, and she even broke the British 12 hours record for women in her age group, 50-55.
She was a better climber, but was nice, and waited for me at the top of climbs.

We reached Gamlingay (1336 km) when we guessed we'll be there, and I said

I'll eat fast, and I'd like to kip for 15 mins. She said we have enough time, and I could sleep for 45 mins.
I thanked her, found a dark spot, and fell asleep.
She woke me, and we left together, after about 1:40 hours.
We rode in a group wth Patrick, 2 other riders, and the Greek.
Towards the end, when we reach the town outskirts, we divided. Denice kept going with one of the riders, and I stayed with the Greek who had troubles riding, and had to ride very slowly. His Achiles Tendon hurt very much.
Still, we made a slow progress, and finally reached the finish line together.

Melita was there, we exchanged a few words, and I thanked her for the ride.

I also met Helen, who was there all week, and provided information and support. She also deserves a big thank you.

- -

A few words about Lev Broitma:
After he packed in Thorne, he stayed there, volunteering.
Rich had an accident, totalling his bike.
He reached hospital, and when all was ok, returned to Thorne.
Lev gave him his bike, and he reached the finish line within the time limit!

- -

My ride time was 109:35 hours.

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