31 July 2013

The bikes of the London-Edinburgh-London

Even though I was on volunteer duty most of the Saturday and Sunday, I could not resist to go and have a look at the LEL's bikes. As usual in audax events, pretty much all types of bikes were on display and ready for the extended 1400 km journey to Scotland and back...which proves that it's all about the rider, and not the bike!

Not sure if these qualify as a bicycle as such...

Much admired £15K Moulton

Great for siestas

Love the rear wheel

Nice choice of colour for the American bike

Probably owned by an American also

Steel is real

Fixed all the way

Not sure this is going to Edinburgh...but still

Aluminium still going strong

Plenty of Canyons around

Plenty of titanium bikes also

Note the dynamo, converter and well broken in Brooks

Touring recumbent with a Rohloff

UK-custom made Mather

Quite a few Bromptons were doing LEL...surely (very) hard work

More titanium

Possibly one of the most elegant upright trikes I've seen...all 953

Traditional UK-steel made frame

Your average aluminium Cannondale

More Ti

Bachetta recumbent

Not what I would call "travelling light"

Old fashion steel fixie - note the old dynohub and front light

ICE trike plus trailer

Moulton TSR 30?

Interesting frame bag

Steel upright trike

Much admired Colorado-made rando bike. Cable-activated hydraulic disc brakes!

Brakes of above's bike

Old Miyata frame with S&S couplers

Note the oval chainrings

Dutch recumbent rode from the Netherlands

Tourer with front suspension (it's all about the rider!)

Quite a few tandems at the start

Long haul trucker - one single chainring, and 26 inch wheels. 

Interesting braking system

The famous cargo bike without the dogs (unfortunately he packed early on)

Lovely Roberts tandem with S&S couplers

Without doubt, the best bike of all. Two gears, pedal backwards for an easier gear uphill!  

And clothing to match (but he did have a flashy GPS on the handlebars!)

29 July 2013

Helping at the start of LEL 2013

(Editor's note: Some internet issues have meant we haven't updated in a while! All back to normal now so expect more posts soon!) 

Having made the decision not to participate in Audax UK's flagship event, London-Edinburgh-London 2013, we decided to help out at the starting control, on our continued mission to give back to the audax community.

Sue and Keith were in charge of the Loughton (London) control, and having ridden their National 400 last year we were keen to help out. Early Saturday morning, we cycled along the canal and out to Loughton, in Greater London. We arrived jsut before 9am, pitched our tent and got to work. Both of us were in the admin team, so we were registering riders, which was great as it meant we were able to interact with lots of them.

Registration in full swing
It was great to see riders from all over the world travelling to the UK for this event. I knew it beforehand, but seeing them all really underscored the fact that audaxing is a global community. Apart from the usual European suspects (from memory, plenty of Germans, Italians, Frenchies, Spaniards, Dutch, Danes, Swedes, Finns, Swiss, Slovenes, Austrians, Belgians, Irish, English, Welsh, Scots, Poles and Portuguese) we were delighted to welcome lots of Americans, Canadians, Japanese, Taiwanese, Koreans, South Africans, Uzbeks, Indians, Brasilians, Colombians... It felt great to be a part of it.

Taiwanese delegation
After the last riders were registered, all the volunteers had a meal together and then got to work prepping food for the following morning. It was really nice to spend some time with the 'senior' audaxers, most of whom had come down from Norfolk to support Keith and Sue. There are so few times when people of different generations interact socially, and it's something I really enjoy about audaxing.

Sue and Keith speaking to the volunteers
About that time, the expected rain finally came in droves, so we stuck around the school for a while to see if it would let up. When it didn't, I put on a bin bag poncho and Alberto took off his tee shirt, and we ran to our tent where we had a pretty good night's sleep, before our 4:45am wake up call.

Double human chain to load the bag drop bags into the van
Just a couple baguettes
We got to work helping get 1,000 riders on their way to Scotland. Alberto moved around between the tea and cofee area and helping out with the mechanics, and I was stationed in the luggage store, where riders were storing all those last minute items they had decided not to carry.

In the luggage store area
Chief mechanic hard at work
It was great again to interact with so many riders. The riders left in waves, starting at 5:30am and going until 10:30am. Actually, the last rider left a bit after 10:30, which was a good few hours after his planned start time, due to his rack breaking and having to take a trip to Halford's to get a new one!

Keith sends off the second starting wave at 6am
The last rider to leave (from France) after a crowd of volunteers helped him with his rack

All that was left after the last riders left was a bit of tidying up, and we packed down our tent and were on our way back to London in the early afternoon. It was unexpected, but we were both feeling a little bit envious as we headed back to our warm bed, thinking of the riders out on the road tonight and possibly for the next four nights.

Cleaning to hall for the arrivee

But being able to help out and do our bit for the event was definitely the next best thing to being out there. The number of volunteers who contribute to an event like LEL would be unfathomable in lots of other sports, from the people who plan for years to make the event a success, to those like us who turn up on the day to help out, audaxing is all about mutualism and a spirit of cooperation, and that's one of the best things about it. Anything we can do to keep that spirit going is time well spent.

And they're off!