This is a long post. I am using it to record what did and didn’t work for me on the LEL, so I am better prepared next time.
Failure. There, I’ve said it – I failed. I failed to complete the 1,400km Audax in the allotted time. Worse still, I didn’t even make it back to the start and had to pack it in at 821.6km. So what happened? What went wrong? Before I go into my tales of woe some points; all my comments are not critising the many volunteers whom stayed up for many nights or the organisers who volunteered their own time to make the event happen. When I make comparisons to other events where staff are paid, I acknowledge this here. If I do make a comment about the event that could have been better I make a suggestion to improve it following the comment.
This event is also about personal achievement, not torture or crazy risk taking! There was a point in this event where my mind switched from personal achievement to reducing serious risk to health, due to extreme circumstances.
Thank you all those who have helped me out, sponsored me, and sent me texts/Tweets encouraging me on. That all meant a great deal. A big thank you for my dad who not only drove me out to Enfield, but also stayed over at the hotel too, and then when I had to get the train back down to Milton Keynes he came to pick me up – a 4 hour round trip drive for him.
I also need to be fair on myself. I covered 821.6km in total and rode a full suspension XC bike from London to Edinburgh 722km in 57hrs, which includes an additional 22km (more about that later) due to navigation issues.
However, as is often the case, the chances for failure to creep in began before the event had even started….
Thursday 23rd July My first day of annual leave. I was supposed to go on a short ride and work on the route map, plus a bit of shopping with the children as during the event it is my son’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. The family was also getting stuff together for driving to France. Virtually no time for bike preparation left I guess all my kit won’t fit into the pannier I have. I purchase an Ortleib bag to tie under existing saddle bag and think it’ll be enough. A quick dummy fill and it seems to work. Later in the ride this is a factor that contributes to failure. That night my wife Naisha, checks the passports to find our daughter’s is out of date. We call the Passport Office who were fortunately open until 23:00hrs. We made an appointment for an emergency passport issue at 08:30hrs the next day in Peterborough. As I was on leave it seemed logical for me to collect it. I had allocated the whole of Friday to sort the bike out and do a test ride all loaded up. It wasn’t to be.
Friday 24rd I leave at about 06:30hrs to drive to Peterborough Passport Office, an hours drive. Once I get there I queue until 09:00hrs and then the passport will take 4hrs to process. I then have to kill 4hrs in Peterborough when I should be sorting the bike. I get back to Cambridge at about 14:00hrs. There is no time to sort the bike out, so I just collect all my stuff in piles and try to work out what to leave out. I pack the ‘not sure’ into my drop back, eat, then try and sleep. I’m in bed at midnight, way too late.
Saturday 25th My father arrived at 09:30hrs to take me to Lee Valley. I feel very unprepared and not sorted. I had wanted to have a few days ‘easy’ with plenty of rest. But with work deliverables pressure and the passport fiasco this didn’t happen. Another factor that would score against me later.
We arrive at Lee Valley in good time, but no-one seems to be sure where the registration will be. Great variety of bikes from fully enclosed recumbent trikes to virtual Time Trial machines. No 26 inch wheel MTB bikes though, and I seem to be the only one. I thought this would prove to be a problem. It wasn’t, and I was a tad disappointed in some of the smirks. Still, it was early days and I am sure some of this was shyness on both sides.
As we couldn’t find anyone who knew where the registration was going to be in the grounds of the Youth Hostel I decided to go back the Premier Inn in Enfield just a few miles away to have lunch and unload all my gear. My registration time was from 14:45hrs, and I’d given up trying to register early at 13:30hrs.
We came back at about 15:45hrs with an hour left before my registration slot closed to find queue of about 40 metres to the registration desks. Two of them. I told my father to go and entertain himself for a few hours and then joined one of the queues. As I realised how slowly it was moving I was then told that there were not two queues as such, but once one had been processed in this queue one had then to joined the other one!
The queue for registration took more than 2hrs. The next queue taking nearly an hour. I had been queuing for over 2.5hrs instead of sorting out my bike and route map. Still, I had a good chat with some of the riders, later to meet up again at Dalkeith on that ill-fated last ride. One of them was a rider who came in hypothermic at Traquair.
Now 19:00hrs we decide to eat back at the hotel. It was getting late and I’d not packed the bike or sorted the route map. I work on it for an hour then eat at 20:15hrs. We order but our food doesn’t turn up for ages. The waiter comes over and is about to ask if our meal was OK when he sees there is no food. We ask for the manager, we give her a piece of our mind and the food finally turns up, 1 hour after we ordered it, so we don’t pay. I’m tired and just wanted to be in bed watching a bit of TV at 18:00hrs. It was all going pear-shaped.
Back in the hotel room at 21:30hrs I say goodnight to dad and then work like crazy to make the bike storage work and get the route map sorted. I have to decide to leave some warm control-wear clothing behind as it won’t fit in the saddle bags. This was to be a big mistake.
At 23:30hrs I had packed my drop bag and managed to fit what I think I needed on the bike and had started to make the route sheet up. Fortunately I had already done much of this on Wednesday and this was a real time saver. I thought it would not work out but plan B would be to follow other riders with SatNav if it all went wrong. In the event, my route plan was fine and did the job well.
Flustered and not relaxed I tried to get to sleep at midnight and didn’t sleep well at all. Some drug dealer was giving someone grief over his mobile phone in the car park at about 2am and then a group of drunk girls attempted to navigate the car park at 4am. I had to be up at 6am. This poor quality sleep in addition the passport run on Friday, was to cost me dearly later.
Sunday 26th I needed a big breakfast but just couldn’t manage it. I felt I’d screwed up in timing/preparation/sleep and noticed all the other riders looked so professional. I thought that at around 400km and after one night it’d all go wrong. This was not a good mindset to have. Dad was very positive and real boost.
As we near the start at 08:30hrs the level crossing comes down, and stays down for ages. Early start riders are trapped on the other side. I begin to think that having a start on the wrong side of a level crossing is not a good idea. Finally after two trains passing in 15 minutes the gates go up. I unload bike, load gear and juice, give dad a big hug and the get to the start with about 15 minutes to spare. I feel sick.
However the level crossing is down again and we, the 09:00hrs start group are trapped again. Again we wait, this time 25 minutes, with the starter telling us, via megaphone from the other side that he’d spoken to the level crossing operators about why the gates remained shut for so long with no trains. Apparently they were not impressed.
At about 09:15hrs the gates went up and we were off. Finally. I settled into a rhythm fairly quickly with other riders and was just pleased to be out on the bike in the sunshine. I was unaware that this was to be the last sunshine for sometime.
151km Thurlby First stop and 5hrs ahead of cut-off time at 15:25hrs. It seemed good although the pace was a bit high, seeing cruising speeds of 32kph often. Fed quickly and moved on.
216km Washingborough Pace was still quite high and by now I had gained 7hrs over the cut-off time. Weather now looking poor with light drizzle.
238km Wragby checkpoint This checkpoint was to stop riders riding through Lincoln from Washingborough on the A46 to Market Rasen. By now the drizzle was awful, it was very fine and blew into every crevice. It was getting dark the drizzle combined with rider road spray made looking through my glasses almost impossible. I followed two other riders instead. At Wragby the checkpoint was out in the open, and when they stuck the sticker on my brevet, which was with the route map, water got in. It all steamed up and mushed the paper. I was now unable to see properly nor read the map easily. The two riders I had picked to stay with , one had SatNav, but both were pushing a 35kmh pace on the flat with strong climbs. I was digging deep to keep up. This was another aspect to score against me as the ride progressed.
Monday 27th 321km Thorne I ended up not being able to hang onto those two riders and watched as the edged away into the darkness, and I nearly go lost navigating with a soggy map inside a wet plastic bag. Rain washing salty sweat into my eyes wasn’t helping much either. I rolled into Thorne control at 01:09hrs soaked and very cold. The two fast riders had dragged me along at such a pace I now had 9hrs 40mins buffer. It meant I could have 4hrs sleep yet still maintain a 5hr+ buffer. I quickly had a hot shower and changed into dry clothes. Bliss. This was a real boost and something I would dearly miss at other controls.
The food was great too. There was nowhere to dry clothes and none of the radiators were on of course. I laid soggy map and soaking clothing over the rugby club bar hoping it might dry. I bought a blanket (with towel) for £2 only to find there were no beds. I ended up sleeping on the floor outside the disabled toilets. At least it was carpet, and I had earplugs. Gassed to sleep but regular groans of gastric distress in the toilet made me feel I was doing better than others.
I had a rotten 4hrs sleep, had some breakfast and checked my clothing and map over at the bar. The maps were almost dry and I found another thicker plastic bag to put them in. My clothes were not dry though. I decided to use my only other pair of fresh dry socks up, even though the shoes were cold and soaking. I also decided to use up my fresh and dry shorts and top too. I hoped these would help reduce the chill factor of the damp over garments as I rode on. I also prayed that at the next control I would be able to dry clothing. This was going to turn out to be THE reason I failed this event. I was so cold and damp I ended up staying at Thorne for 5hrs, not 4hrs.
411km Coxwold It had become a bit more hilly but beautiful countryside. It had remained sunny and I had dried out a bit. Feeling much better with the sunshine I had pushed on at a good pace and had increased the time buffer to 7hrs again. I was very pleased with this, but with hindsight I was going too fast perhaps.. I checked my clothing in my saddle bags, and it was still very damp.
463km Middleton Tyas This came up quick for a reason; it was the last control before The Pennines. Arriving at 15:55hrs with the sun out, I decided to lay all my clothing out to dry. This was one of the better ideas I had had. I still had about 7hrs time buffer. The piggy back saddlebag ‘system’ was becoming a pain, and took way too long to sort out. It also kept coming loose, and at one point started rubbing on the rear tyre. With dry stinky clothing I pressed on.
542km Alston Nearly 600m of climbing to here, this control was in the middle of nowhere on a mountain. I expected the Hound of the Baskervilles anytime. The wind was picking up which made some of the climbs tough. I felt strong on them with no-one passing me, and I caught up about 20 riders. I did lead a small train of about 5 riders at one point but dropped them. I arrived at 22:02hrs. I was down to 6.5hrs time buffer. It was time for a hot shower, some good food, drying of clothes and a bed. Not to be.
Firstly the weather had changed rider decisions, so that instead of going to the next control and sleeping, most riders were stopping here. An outdoor adventure farmhouse was not able to cope with 60+ riders all trying to eat and sleep. I tried to book a bed but each time was told one would be available in 2hrs. I must not have got this right because some riders were sleeping on what few camp beds there were, but I just could not get one booked.
I also asked where I could dry my clothes as they were all now pretty soaked, either with constant drizzle or sweat or both. I was told that I could hang them over the banisters in the upstairs lounge, but so had everyone else. I also asked for a blanket, but there were none however one on-the-ball helper found me a sleeping bag. I then ‘stole’ a jumper from a pile of jumpers behind a door and used that as a pillow. Another night on a floor. Again I slept really badly for about 3hrs.
My eyes, lips and tongue had all puffed up now from the exertion and too much energy drink. I went to order some breakfast but the helper who was taking orders and then taking them to the kitchen was a walking zombie. He should have gone to bed for a couple of hours. He couldn’t remember who had ordered what. For foreign riders talking in English but more slowly is not a translation! I wasn’t impressed when after he asked me what I wanted he said “thank goodness you’re not French……” I couldn’t believe my ears and a few other riders were rolling their eyes!
Suggestion: Put the menu on the wall, with translations underneath. Then foreign riders can point to the items. Or even put these on the tables.
However the food was good. The weather was getting worse it seemed, so I decided to ‘waste’ another hour trying to sort my least wet clothing out and putting it on, eating some more, and waiting until there was a bit more light. As I left, an arrival asked if there was anywhere they could dry clothing. A different helper this time said yes, and showed this rider a drying room for outdoor gear! I was livid! Here I was about to leave in damp clothing, and all my other clothing damp, yet it could have been dry! Nnnnngh! All the other doors had signs stuck on them, but not this one.
Suggestion: Even in dry weather, heavy sweating will make clothing damp, and the body has to burn energy to overcome the chilling effect this has once off the bike. Drying facilities are very important, and for me, lack of them was my final undoing. If this was a DIY perm I would had opted for a B&B with a tumble dryer! If there is a clothes drying point, I think it should be noted on the route sheet. Of course I will be better prepared next time…
Suggestion: Filter coffee constantly on the hob is far far better than instant coffee. It tastes 10 times better, it has far more caffeine in it, and you don’t have to arse about with separate hotwater and coffee granules. Caffeine is essential in an event like this, yet only Eskdalemuir sold Red Bull, and not all controls sold Coke. This is important because these items can be taken away to be used in-ride. Hot coffee/tea can’t.
Suggestion: Supply some ham/bacon/cheese bread rolls ready wrapped in foil/cling film so that riders can take them with them. Only a few controls did this.
Tuesday 28th 633km Eskdalemuir I had left Alston at about 05:00hrs I think, I can’t be sure. It was not a good start, I was very cold, in damp clothing, riding over The Pennines and now over the Scottish Border mountains. The weather was a real pain, as it was very humid in the forests, but the rain keep coming and going and regular changes in and then out of wet weather gear meant my pannier system was wasting a lot of time. Eventually on one decent, as I had become lazy with tying it up properly it had slipped and dragged on my back wheel. It finally was wrenched to one side and I had to yet again stop, make a patch repair of the torn bag, and carry on up some very steep inclines. The pannier system was knackered and I had to keep stopping to fix it. I wasted loads of time and after the rubbish sleep and slow start from Alston I had lost the time buffer I had built up. I had just 1hr 30mins buffer as I arrived at Eskdalemuir at 10:53hrs.
I had little time to hang about knowing time was running out. I also had no idea of the sleeping facilities here which I would later wish I’d known about. There was a big gas-fired stove in the hall but not in use. So again, I could not dry any clothing. This was starting to become a real problem for me, and I was concerned I was going induce an illness by cycling across windy Scottish mountains chilled in damp/wet clothing.
During this leg of the ride I made a massive 22km navigation error, and I know other riders did too. At 23.2km out of Eskdalemuir there was an instruction ‘Tushilaw Inn,L B709’. Now what this means is take a left at Tushilaw Inn onto the B709. This makes sense because the Tushilaw Inn is on a bend in the road to the right, which is the natural main route of the road. The left ‘turn’ is the minor one, hence the instruction to turn. Whoever considered this instruction, thinks the major part of the road is straight on, and so the left should be the next left. It was not very clear.
To make it more confusing, the road sign further along was completely obscured by vegetation and the road signs at the left turn points to the B709 left and the B7009 straight on. It’s hard to see the left sign, so the riders think ‘left at the Inn, follow the B709 until the Gordon Arms Hotel 10.1km away. When tired B709 and B7009 on a road sign can look the same. By 11km there was no Gordon Arms Hotel. I was furious and I had to now backtrack another 11km, making a whopping 22km additional distance and adding 1hrs 30mins onto my time – time I could have sleeping instead. This is where SatNav can make a huge difference to a tired rider. It was hilly too.
As I approached the junction I’d gone wrong at, a group of four French/Italian riders were about to make the same mistake, sadly I couldn’t convince them the road was wrong. I kept checking the route when another rider came along, realising this was misleading too. He wisely decided we should wait to see which direction another rider coming back from Dalkeith would come from. This worked and we set off now in the right direction, but I’d added 22km to my legs and nearly 2hrs time wasted.
Despite this ‘handicap’ of an extra 22km, I decided to put the hammer down to stay warm and blast to Dalkeith. It seemed my 65kmh descents across cattle grids and potholes smashed something in the freehub. This slowed me down as I couldn’t freewheel properly. This also made my backside really sore as I couldn’t stand on the pedals but ride like a fixie. I worked out while riding I needed to average 14kmh to reach Dalkeith before the cut-off point. So I tried to keep a high pace up the mountains, what I didn’t consider was the run into Dalkeith. A one point there was a 10km stretch of downhill. At an average speed of over 50kmh this made for an arrival at Dalketih at 18:24hrs – 1hr 30mins ahead of the cut off time! I had almost regained my wasted 2hrs.
Tuesday 28th 738km Dalkeith I ate some great food again, and they had showers here too, so I used those and – as my drop bag was here – fresh dry clothing. Fantastic! However there was still nowhere to dry clothing again. So I laid everything out on the bar chairs and hoped they might dry a little. I then looked at the timing in order to get back to Eskdalemuir.
It was now about 19:30hrs and I needed to be back in Eskdalemuir by 02:30hrs on Wednesday. It had taken me about 8hrs to get to Dalkeith from Eskdalemuir with all the pannier, mechanical issues and getting lost, but it was more downhill on the way back. If I slept for 2hrs (and the lounge bench seats were very comfortable and warm) then I could leave at 21:30hrs and as long as I could push the time down to 5hrs I could make it before the cut-off.
I had also ‘borrowed’ a drop bag rucksack off of a fellow rider (thanks Peter Faulks 023) and dumped part of my pannier system, so that I’d not have any more problems with it. It seemed possible. I was just about to sleep for a few hours when I heard some other riders talk about the same dilemma. They had also considered that riding at speed through the mountain passes would be slower in the dark, so they needed to ‘add’ time to counter for this. This effectively meant there was no time for sleeping and we had to go for Eskdalemuir ASAP. My heart sank. They had a point, but it also meant changing my plan. If only I had not wasted those 2hrs I could sleep and then ride.
I decided to go with them. One of the guys was someone I was chatting to while queuing for registration. It was here that my ability to ride all the way back began to end. I was trying to ride and meet a control cut off time, and not focus on the finish cut-off time or even just finishing at all. It was to be my biggest mistake. I still had plenty of get up and go, and had good legs, no pain, and bike was rideable.
I should and slept for a good 4hrs regardless. Waited until it was getting light again, and set off fully refreshed (comparatively) and then tried to recover some time, which looking back, I may have missed the Eskadalemuir cut off, but the Alston time would have been fine.. I also feel that the LEL control started to get caught out a bit here.
While I should have checked up on the weather, with slept deprivation and such a focus, it is all too easy to not check the weather personally and ask local opinion. Anyway, it was July, the worst that could happen is yet more rain, and indeed it was raining again. No-one told us there had been a Severe Weather Warning for Cumbria issued that night. This was part of the weather system that caused a tornado on Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. We were about to set off on bicycles to ride over the Southern Uplands at over 600m with a big red warning across that region from the MET Office – ‘Severe Weather Warning’. Cumbrian police had advised drivers to stay at home as there would be gusts up to gale force winds and torrential rain and flash flooding that night…
As the three of us edged out of Dalkeith at around 20:15hrs up the A7 and B709/B7007 the drizzle turned to driving rain and from driving rain to being jet-washed and blown across the road. One of us was pulling ahead and we decided to let him go on to Eskdalemuir. I decided in these conditions it was better to stay with another person. I was also starting to get very cold and I was soaked through and the wind was wicking all the heat away from my core. I started to get a little concerned as I knew at this rate I’d have another 4-6hrs before my core temperature would drop to hazardous levels. The rider I was with was also suffering a bit with his knees and shoulder.
As he was going quite slowly I wasn’t warming up enough, so I decided to ride ‘on the brakes’. This meant applying the brakes a little so that I was pushing harder to maintain the same speed as the other rider, but keeping warmer in doing so. I had disc brakes so wear on the rim or pad wear was not a problem.
What was a problem was this was putting a big load on my hamstrings as I was over-loading them like pulling a too-big-a-gear on an incline. Later this would finally end my ride. The weather was now so extreme we had to ride on opposite sides of the roads to avoid being blown into each other, and we had to shout to communicate. The road was slippery in places at we crushed many frogs being washed into the road. I was almost knocked off my bike by a barn owl who we spooked and it took off as we passed, only to be blown into my head.
We decided to abandon going for Eskadalemuir and instead aimed for Traquair. About 10km from Traquair a recumbent rider shot past with the mother of all tailwinds behind him, shouting ‘TWO MORE HOURS!’ We believed he meant two more hours until he could turn around. Or did he mean two more hours into the headwind until Traquair? We then considered it might be that LEL control had added two hours to the control cut off times.
Roughly 7km from Traquair we were met by a support motorbike rider who asked if we were OK. He also asked (we needed to shout at each other above the driving wind and rain) if there was anyone behind us. We replied ‘not that we know of’, but mentioned the recumbent rider. He said he had found an American rider with hypothermia trying to repair a puncture. He didn’t know where he was, or what event he was in. This didn’t sound good, so we accepted the riders offer of escorting us to Traquair. Our lights were good but his on main beam were of course far better.
Tuesday 28th 777km Traquair Traquair was a warm village theatre, but the heating wasn’t on. Only one electric heater was working which couldn’t cope with all the soaked clothing around it. I couldn’t be bothered with Health & Safety at this point and stood over the bar heater to try and dry out. I merely warmed up damp bones.
There was a bizarre spread of LEL cake enough for 100 riders, porridge, two microwaves on the stage, and bottles of Whisky. A few riders looked tragic, and I think one of them was the hypothermic American. I tried to get some sleep but the chairs were very uncomfortable, and was shivering with soaking clothing, no blankets, and thought I kept swallowing my ear plugs and choking on them.
The riders I had ridden with from Dalkeith kindly woke me up as they set off again, but I really really needed dry clothing now. One of them said the only way he made sure his clothing was dry was to triple bag everything. Ortleib is not waterproof it seems, in Scottish rain.
We creaked out of Traquair at I think about 04:00hrs on Wednesday morning but can’t recall. I couldn’t keep up with the other two riders so I let them go. Riding on the brakes to keep warm had sprained my left Achilles tendon and all my muscles were damp and cold. I just couldn’t warm up.
As I approached Eskadalemuir I had to ride through completely flooded roads over my axle. Some of the roads had half washed away. I was pleased I was using an MTB as submerged potholes were taken with no damage, unlike some other carbon fibre race frames I heard were damaged here.
I was on the cusp for packing at this point when a logging truck approached on a narrow forest road which now had potholes and washed away bits. Instead of waiting for me to pass, he just had squeeze by (why do drivers do this?). As he did so, his truck wheels went into potholes which promptly emptied their gritty freezing water all over me. It was then that I decided I’d had enough.
Wednesday 29th 821km Eskadalemuir 12km later I arrived at Eskadalemuir and told the control I was packing. It was 08:13hrs, I missed control cut off by nearly seven hours. It had taken about 12hrs to get from Dalkeith to Eskadalemuir. Everything I had was soaked through time and again, and I was shivering with cold. All my muscles had seized up and my Achilles tendon was about 5cm too short.
Phil Dyson and Richard White were pretty good though. As they stamped my card they said not to worry, think about it again after having something to eat and a rest. The oil-burning stove was on at full blast (I wish this had been like this on the outbound section) so I promptly got all clothing I wasn’t wearing out to dry, and took two (free) blankets and went and had a rest on a camp bed for the first time in the event. Luxury! Grief, if I’d had this kind of warmth and comfort at Alston and Traquair I’d be in Thorne by now.
At 09:23hrs I sent the Tweet “#LEL: POLAINE 283: 798km. Eskadalemuir (return).Wet through for 3 days. Exhausted. End?”
I slept until I was turfed out as they were packing up. My clothes were less wet, more hot damp. It was still drizzling with rain. I so desperately needed dry clothes I didn’t even consider Nurofen for aches and pains, or just riding pack, outside time limits or not. I felt a failure for not making the Eskadalemuir cut off time. I later learnt that if I had made it to Lee Valley within the cut-off time that would be accepted. Another lesson learnt.
At 09:48hrs I sent the Tweet “#LEL: POLAINE 283: stopping at 821.4km. Getting train to London.”
Phil Chadwick kindly gave me a lift to Lockerbie and I also took my drop bag from the van that was at Eskadalemuir at the time, which was fortunate. After preparing for this event for nearly a whole year, I can’t describe how much of a failure I felt. I suppose the flip side of the drive to keep going in these conditions is the depression of finally giving up.
I had covered all possibilities to a certain limit but it was not enough. I was fit enough, I had the endurance, the right bike, no numbness, the legs were good, but I just couldn’t cope with all that wind and rain resulting in chilled damp clothes 48hrs. Maybe I should have tried to find a bike shop at bought dry clothes, or found a B&B with a tumble dryer? Who knows what I should have done, but that is the whole point of these ultra-distance rides – knowing how to make the right decisions and one can only get better with experience.
I’m already planning for the PBP 2011.
What Didn’t work Seat post bag – QR bags needed. No overshoes Leaving Dalkeith with no rest Relying on others’ weather reports Inadequate rain wear Not enough clothing to change into (dry) Sleeping on floor too often Sore lips/tongue from too much energy drink No fresh mitts Poor sleep night before start Lost focus on timing – if running out of time still finish Too fast too soon Slow checkpoint stops Leafing long bid shorts behind One bag drop
What Did work Assos crème Front suspension Disc brakes Hope lights 26” very strong wheels Double compact chain ring 4:1 H5 mix 1 litre bottle Watch countdown every 15min Gatorskin tyres Eating while riding Lots of stretching Leggings Twitter
Next Time Yoghurts for sore tongue/mouth Book B&B/or camper van support Better sleep plan leading up to event Full dummy run with all gear Stick with own plan Rain legs Goretex top SatNav better but not essential – perhaps for PBP Helmet light useful but not essential Support contact – to talk me out of packing