We announced the 2017 route last week, which now takes a more remote path across the border between England and Scotland. This short film by Damon Peacock, taken from footage of the ride in 2009, looks at the remote sections of the route between Carlisle and Edinburgh. Below, Damon talks about his own experience of riding London Edinburgh London in 2001 and 2005. If you like Damon’s film, you can see more here.
I’ve been looking back at some of the video of previous LELs, and thinking about what surprised me the first time I rode it in 2001.
Mainly it was the sheer length of the climbs over Yad Moss and in Southern Scotland. They’re not steep, but they do go on and on. I knew some of the climbs in Scotland from a 400 Km Audax called the ‘Ower the Edge’, which isn’t run any more. That taught me a lot about the nature of the terrain, and what sort of gears I needed, especially into a headwind.
Before the 2013 LEL, the route out was the same as the route back between Longtown and Edinburgh, which doubled the climbs, and also meant that you got to see riders coming the other way. It was good to film the crossover, because there are few cars to spoil the views, which are very open. But there are timber lorries, which have a job to do, and can be intimidating. The area is also very remote, and the facilities are getting less, the Tushielaw Inn is one example, it closed before the last LEL. Eskdalemuir is an exception, as its Buddhist temple attracts visitors.
The route now goes via Moffat on the way North, to make use of excellent facilities, and goes over the ‘Devil’s Beeftub’, a well known climb. Riders can choose to ride a more ‘remote’ route to Moffat via Boreland, or shadow the main M74 motorway on the road that takes local traffic. That route is chosen by most riders on the Lands End John O’ Groats ride, so facilities are good.
In both 2001 and 2005 I strained my achilles tendon a little, riding against a headwind in Southern Scotland. I think it’s because I lost concentration on the very long climbs. I’d ridden those sort of climbs before, but not so many, so close together. There are lots of Audax rides in similar terrain, in Scotland, Wales and Northern England, and riders from abroad often have experience of long ‘Alpine Style’ climbs. It’s worth getting some experience of that sort of riding for LEL, I’d certainly recommend the B709 and B7007 between Langholm and Edinburgh as good training.