After a five-year hiatus rather than the usual four due to Covid, London Edinburgh London is back for 2022 with a route that is over 1,500km in length, with close to 2,000 riders setting off in the early hours of Sunday morning to take on the iconic challenge.
As has been the case since its inception in 1989, this self-supported Audax event is described as a 'cycle ride' rather than a race, however the 125 hour cut-off means many entrants will be looking to keep the pace brisk. That certainly appears to be the case for road.cc and off.road.cc contributor Matt Page, who has chosen an aero road bike as his weapon of choice.
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There are no real rules or regulations on the bike or equipment required to take part, and unlike some Audax events mudguards are not mandatory. While the ethos of the event is to do it self-supported, there are control points with facilities to keep riders in check, including food, drinks, tools and mechanical support, and even dormitories and showers at some of them. For navigation there are no route markers, with riders choosing to follow the GPX files provided, or go traditional and use route cards.
Matt's choice might be far removed from your usual Audax bike and not exactly primed for taking on huge distances, but he tells us the Cannondale SystemSix is a bike he's spent a great deal of time on, and is confident will get him to the finish in under 100 hours.
The bike and finishing kit
For the impatient amongst you, let's start with a full spec list of the bike and equipment:
Shimano Dura-Ace 9170 groupset
52/36 Hollogram chainset
Scribe Aero Wide+ 60mm carbon wheels
Continental GP5000 TL 25mm tyres
Repente Artax GLM saddle
Enve SES Aero handlebar
Enve Aero extensions
Kalloy Uno stem
Favero Assioma Duo power meter pedals
Specialized Rib Cage II side access bottle cages
Straight Cut Designs custom frame and top tube bags
Dr j0n DeWidget top tube bag stabiliser
Exposure Strada MK10 AKTIV front light
Exposure TraceR rear light, with Racewear Direct seatpost mount
As we've mentioned already, the heart of the rig is a Cannondale SystemSix frameset, a bike built for speed with deep aerodynamic tube profiles. It's fitted with a full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 9170 11-speed groupset, with a 52/36 chainset and 11-30 cassette. The brakes are also Dura-Ace, with smaller 140mm rotors chosen.
While some higher end off-the-peg SystemSix bikes feature the KNOT integrated handlebar and stem, Matt has opted for a more traditional set-up. The Enve Aero handlebar features mostly internal cable routing and a Shimano EW- RS910 Di2 junction box fitted to one bar end.
Matt has fitted Enve Aero clip-on extensions, a choice that prioritises comfort over speed with thick padding running the length of the bars to take pressure off the palms.
The wheels are the Scribe Aero Wide+ 60, fitted with 25mm Continental GP5000 TL tyres set up tubeless. Favero Assioma Duo power meter pedals are fitted, although Matt says he will not be looking at the power at all during the ride, instead choosing to pore over the data afterwards.
Some parts fitted specifically for the event include a custom Straight Cut Designs frame bag and top tube bag, with narrow profiles to give plenty of knee clearance and maximise the internal space on the 54cm frame.
A neat addition is the Dr j0n DeWidget top tube bag 'stabiliser', a mount that fits under the top cap to provide a secure attachment point for top tube bags, designed primarily for bikes with a low stack height.
Matt's frame bag will include a large 20,000 mAh battery and items of extra clothing for warmth and rain protection. Pictured above is his frame bag spares that will be stored at the event bike checks, including a spare GPS computer, more nutrition and spare charging cables. All repair spares, including tubes, tools and patches are in the rear saddle bag.
Matt will be relying on the Wahoo Elemnt Roam for navigation, and lighting is provided by Exposure with the Strada MK10 on the front and the TraceR at the rear, the latter held on with a 3D-printed Racewear Direct seatpost mount. For some extra visibility, a reflective Safety Pizza hangs off the back of the Repente Artax GLM saddle.
All riders taking part in London Edinburgh London are given two small bags, which are taken to the rider's control points of choice. Within the bags riders can put extra spares such as food, clothing or anything else that might be needed to aid the forward journey. With the control points visited twice – once northbound and again southbound – it means there are four points that a rider can access personal items.
Matt's drop bags include extra inner tubes, a spare jersey, base layers and some electronics to ensure all devices can be charged and used throughout the event; although most of the space will be for nutrition, with carbohydrate-rich sources such as gels, chews and energy drink powder prioritised, plus some denser comfort foods included.
You can dotwatch London Edinburgh London here, and Matt – who at the time of writing has already passed the second checkpoint at Boston – is number A16. Check back for Matt' write-up of his London Edinburgh London experience in a few days' time...
Would you choose a bike like this for an audax? Let us know your thoughts in the comments as always.
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Maybe even some squirrels