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Ride London

By  August 4, 2016

This weekend saw 4th edition of the classic Prudential Ride London 100 and what day it was, it was the first time I’d ever ridden on closed roads so I was really looking forward to this. 

The day started at 5am as I had planned to meet one half of Broleur, Steven, who was my tour guide for the morning since I had no idea how to get to the Olympic park so I asked if I could meet him although he had a much earlier start time. Best to get there early than not at all, right?
We met on the Vauxhall bridge and rode straight along the embankment to Brick Lane to go to Beigel Bake, a 24 hour bagel bakery! A nice little way to pick up some breakfast to have when waiting around before the start.

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I got to the Olympic park probably about half 6 and my gate loading time was 7:10 for a 8:10 start time. The atmosphere was great and you could feel the buzz around the place but you could see that there were also some nervous people lining up. I got chatting to the person next to me to just to make the time go quicker until we could set off.

On your marks, get set…Go!

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As the start approached and we were about to head off I was about 5 rows back from the front and the second they waved us off I went full gas straight away. I guess I got carried with everything but I wanted to go catch the next group of people who set off a few minutes earlier.
Admittedly I set off way too quickly coming out of London and I was thinking when to ease it off a bit but I just kept on soaking the atmosphere and kept turning a high gear.

I kept up a high pace for the first 20 miles but when we started to get out of central London I did start to ease it off a bit because I knew I wouldn’t have had the legs to finish the ride.
Rolling out through central London was an unforgettable experience it was amazing!  It was only the day before I was walking the same roads around the likes of Harrods and the other big streets, only you had cars and pedestrians all over the place so to have it with just cyclists was ace.

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Heading out of London we arrived at Richmond park and this was then I made a better effort to leech off peoples wheels so I could rest the legs as much as possible. I never really stayed behind someone for that long it was a case of drafting one person for a minute or two then moving on upwards to the next.

Just after Richmond park there had been an incident which lead to a big hold up and a queue of riders backing up for a couple of miles. I was probably stood around for about an hour before things started to move again but at this point it was only walking, we were walking for about half an hour before getting back on the saddle to set off again.
When i came to the standstill I was right next to one of the hubs when so it was the best time to grab a bar and top up on some water. At the time nobody really knew what had happened until the news started to feed back to people though who had friends further up the road.

The news which fed back was that a guy had a heart attack whilst riding and sadly passed away that evening. It seems to be an annual thing at Ride London and it’s really very sad. Later that evening the organisers of Prudential Ride London issued a statement saying the death was of a man named Robin Chard who was riding for charity, my thought go out to his family and friends. Since this plenty of cyclists have now contributed to his just giving page and you can too, here. It’s now up to £60k!

This incident was only about 25 miles in to the ride so there was still plenty of riding left to do and because I set off way too quickly for my own good my legs felt it when I set off again after the stop, I could really feel the lactic acid build up! The best thing to do was to just spin it out in an easier gear to get things going again.

The next part of the ride was out into the Surrey Hills and was just a normal routine here but it was nice to be on closed roads still in the country side. There was a lot of undulating roads for this part but it was quite fast still, until Leith hill.

Leith hill was the only hill listed which was actually tough. If I remember rightly (probably not) I think it reaches the highest point in the South East of England. The average gradient for this was 7% and maxed out at around 12% which did stay like that for a bit. There were quite a few people walking up this climb and most of them did stay to the left to get out the way but some would stupidly stop dead in the middle of the road without any warning so you had to dodge these. It happened to me once and I swerved to go round them – luckily no one was on my right!

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Box hill was the other ‘big’ climb of the day. I think it was big for down south but it really wasn’t tough. It was the most iconic climb there due to the Olympics road race and has became very popular since. It was the longest climb but as it is so steady with a 4% average and a max of 8%, you could easily find a comfortable gear and work your way up it. Annoyingly it was a very narrow road with about 500 riders going up together so there was no room to really go for it. The views at the top of Box Hill were great though as it was really open and there was a feed station which i took full advantage to stock up on gels.
The Box Hill mark was on about 75 miles in so you’ve done plenty at this point.

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The crowds were great and they definitely helped with their cheers, it’s nice to see they’ve put the time and effort in to come down and see the riders. As a lot of their streets were closed a lot of them used the chance to use it almost like a street party with tables, chairs and beer on the pavement all enjoying themselves so it’s a win for everybody.

Some of the younger ones stuck their hand out onto the road so you can give them a high 5 as riding past, I thought that was a really nice thing to give you something to smile about and when I was close to the side I usually did it.

Riding through the villages were there was the biggest crowds it made me want to go that little bit quicker to try and impress people, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one doing! The crowds stretched out quite a lot of the time so it often meant you kept a higher speed for longer so this definitely helped my finished quicker so it was a good little motivator.
The crowds were also great for taking your mind off the riding as it gave you a distraction so it’s easy to see why the pro’s feed off this kind of atmosphere.

On our way back into London it was much later in the day and coming back into the centre the streets were packed with a cheering crowd especially a long the embankment and then onto the finish. It got quite technical around Trafalgar square with some tight corners I was almost touching the barrier going through them. With the crowds there and being in a bunch you had little place to go it definitely felt the I was riding in the Tour de France!

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After going through the the square and under the arches onto the finishing straight at the mall this was the best part of the day. Not only because it was the finish line but it was right in front of Buckingham palace and you had the crowd banging on the barriers it was deafening but it really did you give you a second wind…so a spring finish it was. I some how mustered up some energy for this.

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Overall I road quickly but safely and finished on a time roughly about 5 hours 30 which is an average of 18mph which was an hour quicker than the time I set which I would have been happy with. I was absolutely over the moon with this!
On the day people were either riding to compete or complete. Mine was complete…but with a good time.

There were far too many people on the roads to be risking anything although that didn’t stop the pro wannabee’s. They didn’t really have any respect or consideration for any of the other riders, just them and their time they was aiming for. Closed roads is a good chance to really get a good time and people do use it as a license to ride like an idiot but closed roads also appeals to riders who have an interest in cycling but are understandably put off by riding on the road. I think cyclist whizzing past you at 40mph down a hill with an inch of space if just as off putting though.

Fueling

Fueling for a ride of this distance isn’t easy. Especially if you’re eating to perform as such. This means you want to replace a similar amount of calories that you are burning. I defintely didn’t do that. Most of the century rides I’ve done have never been a race nor would i want them to. Just social rides with hills and a couple of cafe stops, the way I like it so with these the cafe’s give you a chance to stock up on some half decent food. Although at Ride London there were stops with food like sausage butties and pasta but I didn’t really want to stop and eat because I would struggle to get going again so everything I was eating was something I could have on the move. I had my bagel in the morning which I know would see me the first 50 miles without feeling tired but I had a gel within the first 50. Everything after was 50 my plan was to have either a bar or a gel every 10 miles. I had a couple of gels with me and 3 Clif bars all of which were eaten in the last 50  miles. I only had one gel on me with the last 50 and I had this before Box Hill on 75 because I knew there was a feed stop at the top of there and I would have stopped for food if they not had they not had anything.

Luckily they had some rice cakes which I took a couple of and they also had plenty of gels, I took 4 of these telling myself it was so I could finish strong rather than have to crawl my way to the finish…it worked. I had 2 quickly at the feed stop and then the other 2 over the last 25 miles.

Saturday

This was the day we could sign onto the event in the Excel center to get our ride numbers and also the information packs. Here is where they gave you the race numbers for your jersey, helmet and bike and then some information on where the feed stations and the big climbs are on the route. There was also a cycle show there for the day to get people into the spirit for it. They had some pros there such as Sir Chris Hoy offering some advice for the people going for their first hundred. As well as the shows they had on there was also a pop up Evans Cycles store for some bits and pieces if needed and also the official Prudential Ride London kit. Lastly there were quite a few stalls with plenty of merchandise from different brands going a bit cheaper than retail price so it would have been a good place to stock up on some kit.

How did the Pros get on?

The pro’s race followed the sportive which saw Tom Boonen cross the line first. Although it looked likely to be Geraint Thomas who went for a solo victory with 50k to go but was caught in the last 10k.

Well done to the organisers

The whole event must have been incredibly tough to organise so a big thank you from myself. It was really well marshaled from the starting area and right to the finish line. You were never 100 meters from one and even they cheered you on at times. They lined the streets for the whole day and did well to close of the roads for the route.

Would I do it again? I’m not sure. Too many idiots about but it was a great day out so I think i’ll apply and just see what happens.