#LEL2017: Self indulgent data

During London-Edinburgh-London 2017, we were encouraged to check in and out of each control so that the event organisers could anticipate workflow: manage what they called the ‘bulge’ i.e. where the largest concentration of riders would be. There were two benefits for us, firstly that our friends and family could follow us from the comfort of an armchair, secondly we could have fun playing with the data afterwards – to see how we’d performed against any planning we’d done.

Route overview

Strava data

Data taken from my GPS device shows that I covered 1443.4km, which is 896.9 miles, and thanks to the barometric elevation data, I can see that I climbed for 9689m (or 31788 feet). The GPS device pauses when I’m stationary, so when I was fixing a puncture or paused at traffic lights the ‘moving time’ clock stopped. Taking the time of 70 hrs and 49 mins, by the distance of 1443.4km I can see that my moving pace was 20.4kph (12.7 mph). This feels like a very sedate figure, but becomes even more sedate when I consider that the time limits didn’t care about ‘moving speed’ but instead were concerned with ‘overall speed’.

I left London at 12:30pm on Sunday 30 July and returned to London by 2:21am on Friday 4 August. That gives me an overall time of 109 hours and 51 minutes… and an ‘overall speed’ of 13.1kph (or 8.2mph). I’m starting to wonder what on earth I was up to? Why was I riding so slowly and taking so much time?

Speed vs distance

This chart records how my pace changed with distance; It shows I averaged 25.2kph (15.7mph) for the first 100km to reach St Ives. The red line traces my overall average speed, and the black line my average speed between each control… There is a significant black line drop between Louth and Pocklington (300km) on the way north, for my first sleep stop at home in Welton. There is a second large peak and drop at 900km, which was due to IT issues checking out of Brampton and Alston. The red line just demonstrates that my pace slowed dramatically after the first 300km but seemed to remain steady at around 15kph for the rest of the ride. This coincides with a tailwind on day 1 followed by hills and a headwind on days 2 to 4… I wonder how the chart might look if we’d experienced a tailwind on the 3rd and 4th day.

My time in hand

One of the pieces of data every rider was interested in was their ‘time in hand’ as this was used to work out how long we could comfortably stop at any one control. Most people’s strategy was to build up a bank of time while they were fresh, so that ‘time in hand ‘ could be spent later by recovering and sleeping. This chart shows how much ‘time in hand’ there was through the event: the little downward steps represent checking in and checking out of each control. My chart shows that I consistently gained time all the way to Moffat, with a maximum of 888 minutes in hand (14 hours and 48 minutes). Also, that between controls I gained time in hand throughout the ride. Clearly I wasn’t in any danger of running out of time, but this didn’t stop me worrying about it at Great Easton: being anxious that “I only had 8 hours in hand” and “might not cover the last 50km in time”.

Given that my plan was to minimise time at controls, I’ve trawled through the data to find out exactly how long there was for me between checking in and checking out:

St Ives: 13 mins
Spalding: 12 mins
Louth: 1 min
Intermediate stop at Welton: 4hrs 37mins (1st night = 2.5 hours sleep)
Pocklington: 0 mins
Thirsk: 31 mins
Barnard Castle: 41 mins
Brampton: 30 mins
Moffat: 4 hrs 35 mins (2nd night = 2.5 hours sleep)
Edinburgh: 24 mins
Innerleithen: 29 mins
Eskdalemuir: 50 mins
Brampton: 48 mins
Alston: 5 hrs 1 min (3rd night = 3 hours)
Barnard Castle: 25 mins
Thirsk: 48 mins
Pocklington: 32 mins
Intermediate stop at Welton: 40 mins
Louth: 4 hrs 24 mins (4th night = 2 hours)
Spalding: 20 mins
St Ives: 58 mins
Great Easton: 1 hr 30 mins (couldn’t sleep)

I never stopped for more than an hour unless I was sleeping, and tried to keep stationary time to half an hour. I felt happier when my stationary time was no more than 30 minutes and feel like time was wasted beyond that – but having said this there were times when I just had to rest longer due to the wind and rain.

Distance against time in hours

These two charts show how distance was accrued against time and I find it encouraging to see a steady slope on both charts, suggesting that my pace had been sustainable throughout the ride. A pronounced curve to either of these charts would suggest that I’d started too fast and struggled to maintain that pace as time progressed.

Distance and date

I’ve really enjoyed looking at this data and comparing it to my ‘plan’. I was very close on day 1 and 2 and even made it to Moffat for a sleep when I’d thought about Brampton. The return journey was good too; making time up and reaching Alston for Tuesday night. However the wind and hills slowed me down on day 3 so that (together with the puncture before Louth) I didn’t reach Spalding on Wednesday night and the headwinds in the Fens pushed my finish time back even further on day 4 and I had to push on into the night to finish.

LEL Scheduling

LEL Certificate


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *