Prudential Ride London: Completed!
The weather forecast leading up to the event was a cause for concern, not to mention Leith and Box hill. Looking out of the window at 4am of the morning of the ride and the rain was coming down in stair rods with standing water everywhere. Fortunately, as we left for the start, the rain had stopped leaving only a brisk breeze.
The event is extremely well organised with over 100,000 cyclists participating over the weekend. 25,000 cyclists took part in the Sunday event through London and Surrey on a similar route to that of the London 2012 Olympic road-cycling race. The event starts at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park, travelling through London and into Surrey with its ‘beautiful rolling hills’, finally finishing in The Mall in central London. Due to the huge numbers, riders have to arrive at the various start points at least an hour before their departure time. Although this allows the atmosphere to build, unfortunately, it is easy to get cold although black bin bags, not exactly Hugo Boss, helps keep off the wind.
I was riding with seven other friends, raising money for ‘Alex’s Wish’; the same charity we rode for last year. We are a group of very mixed ability and riding at over 20mph, my heart rate monitor suddenly informed me that I would not last the race going at that speed. I therefore found other people to ride with, each taking their turn at the front to allow the others to draft and save energy.
Last year I completed the race but three major crashes stopped the race at various stages, making times irrelevant. Although I thought I was relatively fit, Leith hill beat me, forcing me to get off and push. My goal for this year was to cycle up Leith hill and still have enough in the tank for Box hill.
Leith hill is the narrowest point on the course with a gradient of 7% (although it feels a lot steeper). Many people were walking up the hill up to three a breast, others falling off, as they were unable to get out of their cleats. Fortunately, I was able to avoid the mayhem, weaving my way around the walkers and bikes and riders on the floor. My climb was accompanied by fanatic beeping from my heart rate monitor, which was telling me that I was coming close to my maximum heart rate. The burning in my thighs and pounding in my chest suggested that I had gone far beyond that.
I do not particularly enjoy cycling but the sense of achievement of reaching the top was worth the hours of training and pain.
I stopped briefly at both 50 and 70 miles to refill my water bottles but apart from this, rode on with a supply of jelly babies in my handlebar bag to sustain me. When tired it is easy to lose concentration and with the number of inexperienced cyclists taking part, accidents inevitably occur. I managed to fall off last year; fortunately history did not repeat itself this year.
I was delighted to have beaten Leith and Box hill with a time of 6 hours 29 minutes and 8 seconds.
We are still collecting money for Alex’s Wish, a charity set up with the aim to conquer Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Alex’s mum was there to greet us at the finish line with thanks and a cold can of beer! Any contributions to this great charity will be enormously worthwhile and gratefully received. If you do wish to donate, you can do so here
Although as I said earlier, I do not overly enjoy the cycling, the sense of achievement knowing that it is done for such a worthy cause overrides this.
I intend to ride next year, hopefully performing better on the hills rather than looking like a man who has gone into reverse gear…