LEL ride strategies: Catching a train

In Damon’s latest film, he talks about how riders manage their time on the road, whether they are at the front or the back of the event.

The first thing to do when you start on your LEL is to get yourself a cushion.

Whenever you ride above the minimum speed you are accumulating time to spend off the bike. If you look at the average speed on riders on Paris Brest Paris, as on Shai Shprung’s excellent website, you can see that the initial average speed is about 10 kph higher than the final average speed. Are going faster at first, or is that average brought down by eating/sleeping and other non-moving activities?

The very fastest riders in groups A and B don’t stop for very long in controls, so their data is more related to speed. They drop by about 6 km per hour over the whole event from the first section. They’ve got 80 hours to complete, and the fastest take 43 hours.

There are different strategies, but riders close to their time limits have to manage their cushion. The easiest way to put time in the bank is by catching ‘trains’. Don’t try catching real ones, we’ll spot that. ‘Trains’ are groups riding together to punch their way through the air by taking turns on the front. Sometimes a whole string of carriages will be pulled by a powerful locomotive.

This is easiest on the flat, where you can gain time by following the strong, especially into a headwind. whenever a slightly faster group comes past, tag on behind for some help. Don’t do it with groups that are a lot faster, as you’ll burn yourself out.

The slowest riders will run out of trains sooner than the faster ones. So will the later starters if they are slow. if you catch a group, it will allow you to rest for a bit, but riding at their pace will waste your time. They will try to follow you when you ride off, and you’ll help them for a bit.

Slower riders can catch more trains by managing their time at controls well, and that’s the subject of the next film.