Second finisher at #LEL2017,
behind the magnificent Anco de Jong.
I'd had high hopes for LEL in the run up, but abandoned them when a slower than expected drive home from a wedding in North Wales meant I only got about 2 hours sleep before the start. The entire out leg was a misery - my power meter ran out of battery, torrential storms meant all my kit was soaked, I was getting the dozies by 10pm and struggling to hold the wheel... Luckily Darren and Jasmijn nursed me to Edinburgh where I got about an hour's kip.
When I woke up, the volunteers told me there were only 6 down the road and I realised just how much time in hand we had and how far ahead of the main field we were. Climbing out of Edinburgh I found myself gapping Darren and Jasmijn on the hills, so gently pushed on and left them messages at controls - in return getting the message not to wait.
I kept it steady down to Brampton, but began picking up the pace as I encountered riders heading the other way, cheering, ringing bells and waving caps... I was exhausted enough that I got a bit emotional at this - thankfully it was getting dark and I don't think anyone saw.
By the time I reached Barnard Castle I was informed there were three riders down the road and the third was within catching distance... That's when it sank in that I was on for a good time and should press the advantage, so I abandoned thoughts of sleep and pushed relentlessly to the end.
I caught 3 by the early morning and then built up a big lead pushing hard into the headwinds. By Spalding it became clear 2 was really struggling and his lead was halving with each control - I just needed to maintain the speed I had and I'd overtake him. By Gt Easton I was ahead, but so tired I was hallucinating and my feet were burning from a combination of wet socks, grit and friction. I honestly don't remember the run into Loughton beyond being annoyed that it felt like all the roads just went round in circles and that I was clearly the victim of a cruel joke.
I finally crawled in, 3 hours behind Anco and about 2 ahead of the next rider 📸 Charlotte Barnes