TUESDAY TALK: Tale of two cities told on two wheels

Italians Nadia Landini and Enzo Ferrarese stop off at Spalding Grammar School during the London Edinburgh London 1,400km long-distance cycle challenge.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
SG030817-111TW.
Italians Nadia Landini and Enzo Ferrarese stop off at Spalding Grammar School during the London Edinburgh London 1,400km long-distance cycle challenge. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG030817-111TW.
  • Jumping back in the saddle after stop-off in Spalding

About 1,500 cyclists from at least 70 countries will be resting sore limbs and egos after riding from England’s capital city to Scotland’s, and back, in just six days.

The London-Edinburgh-London Audax, defined by Road Cycling UK as “non-competitive, time-limited, long-distance cycling, is a gruelling 1,415 ordeal on two wheels, but thankfully only held every four years.

London-Edinburgh-London Audax cycle ride stops at Spalding Grammar School.  Photo by Tim Wilson.  SG030817-113TW.

London-Edinburgh-London Audax cycle ride stops at Spalding Grammar School. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG030817-113TW.

No winners, no maximum speed limit, no general classification, no peloton and no yellow jersey, unlike Britain’s four-time winner of the Tour de France, Chris Froome.

Richard Parker, an endurance cyclist from Carlton-le-Moorland (a village between Newark and Lincoln), said: “I could describe it as a life-changing experience where very normal people, from very normal backgrounds, get the chance to cycle across Britain and experience long-distance, endurance cycling at its best.

“You can experience sun, rain and high winds, all in a relatively short distance from country to country which is an absolutely mind-blowing thing.

“Cyclists also go through Lincolnshire, which makes up about 20 per cent of the route, from the Humber Bridge to Crowland’s Trinity Bridge as you cross the Fens which can be really difficult when the wind is blowing against you.

A life-changing experience where very normal people, from very normal backgrounds, get the chance to cycle across Britain and experience long-distance, endurance cycling at its best

Richard Parker, endurance cyclist from Carlton-le-Moorland

“You need to use mind and body to go through it and get back to each control on time, including the one at Spalding Grammar School where all the people were very kind and friendly.”

Essentially to the audax are 15 “controls”, including Spalding at 161kms and 1,261kms, on the outward and return rides respectively.

Each centre including Spalding Grammar Control, is manned by an army of volunteers totalling about 4,500 people at sites such as St Ives, near Huntingdon, Louth, Thirsk and Barnard Castle, County Durham.

German student Friederike Haberstroh, a volunteer in Spalding away from her work for a Masters degree at Oxford University, said: “My dad is doing LEL so I decided to volunteer and he was very happy to see me.

Volunteers Tim Jarvis and Caroline Crew help out at the London-Edinburgh-London Audax control at Spalding Grammar School.  Photo by Tim Wilson.  SG030817-116TW.

Volunteers Tim Jarvis and Caroline Crew help out at the London-Edinburgh-London Audax control at Spalding Grammar School. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG030817-116TW.

“Even though I don’t cycle myself, people have been very kind and the parts of Spalding that I’ve seen seem very nice.”

Cross-border cycle ride heads into Spalding