London Edinburgh London 2025: day one tactics

The first day of riding LEL can fly by in a blur. You've prepared, planned and trained for this ride for months, if not years – and now you're thrilled to be actually doing it. You're in good shape and riders from around the world are cycling alongside you. The volunteers at controls are fresh and excited to see you. And you're probably feeling pretty fresh yourself. Bonus!

But ... if you take time to carefully evaluate your tactics on day one, it can pay huge dividends later on in the ride. Here are four ideas to consider.

1. Aim for Malton

The control at Malton lies 364 kilometres (226 miles) along the route. This makes for a long day of cycling, but there are real advantages to getting there. First of all, Malton is a huge control, with lots of space for sleeping. It's unlikely to be as busy as Hessle or Louth further south, so you've a good chance of getting a bed for as long as you like. Aiming for Malton will also position you ahead of the bulge of riders for day two, which will help you navigate the bottleneck of facilities around Brampton and Hawick. Best of all, you'll bank a good 100 kilometres of distance compared to splitting your riding equally over five days. You might well be glad of that later on.

To make the most of this tactic, you need an early start time. And that's why, for 2025, we are increasing the number of early start slots available from both central London and Writtle. Our plan is for at least a quarter of the field to be on the road by 7 a.m., so there's a good chance we'll be able to offer you an early start.

2. Aim for Louth

Three control points are geared up to accommodate riders on the first night of the event. These are at Malton, Hessle and Louth. By far the busiest will be Hessle, just after the Humber Bridge. If you cannot press on to Malton to avoid the bulge, then it might be a good idea to start late and stay in Louth instead. 

3. Don't faff

It can be tempting to relax into the ride once you are on the road. And why wouldn't you? You've worked hard to be here, so why not enjoy yourself? If it's a nice day you might want to take photos of the gorgeous Essex lanes and the big skies of the fenlands around Spalding. The control points are a great place to catch up with friends, either on the ride or at home via your social media. And you'll definitely want to linger at the Humber Bridge, not to mention at the special surprise we have planned for you after you depart.

But ... don't let relaxing turn into procrastinating. It's far too easy to waste time lingering over your dinner, or chatting with friends. Believe us, we know! But we also know that you need to keep your focus and momentum. To do this, we recommend you allow yourself a maximum of 30 minutes to get through controls during the day.

So, be prepared! Make sure when you get to a control you have your brevet card ready (you'll need it), your water bottles and any clothing you might want to change. Get your card stamped, get some food, use the toilet, fill up your water bottles – and crack on. You can chat to your friends once you're back out pedalling on the open road!

4. Which way is the wind blowing?

The London Edinburgh London route follows largely the same course northbound and southbound through England. It features nearly 200 kilometres of cycling along flat, exposed roads between St Ives and Mareham le Fen. When you are cycling this section, be aware of the strength of the wind and the direction it is blowing. If you have a strong tailwind on day one you might not necessarily notice it, and this might give you an unrealistic idea of your pace.

But ... a strong tailwind on day one likely means a strong headwind on your return, when you are tired. So, if you are lucky enough to enjoy the wind at your back on the way to Edinburgh, make the most of it and bank the time and energy gained to use over the days ahead.