It’s Sunday 10th August at 5.00am, my alarm goes off to remind me that today is the RideLondon 100. In truth I had no need for the alarm, I had been awake for the past few hours thinking about the task that lay ahead. Sunday was the day when the remnants of Big Bertha were due to hit London and South East.
It brought added nerves to my first cycling event and made me question what I was doing here at the start line at the Olympic Stadium with thousands of other cyclists. It was clear in the starter pen that most were seasoned cyclists and largely veterans of the inaugural 2013 sportive. They kept busy discussing their previous cycling achievements (unsurprisingly my London-Brighton cycle did not stand up in comparison!).
Prior to the start it was announced that the route would be reduced from 100miles to 86miles in order to miss out the much vaunted climbs at Leith Hill and Box Hill. I had mixed emotions as these climbs were what made the race more than just a cycle round the countryside but then who really enjoys hills anyway!
Once our wave had inched its way to the start, the sense of nervous anticipation was apparent. Fortunately the rain had just about held off and once the starter released us, a slew of cyclists bombed to the first hairpin corner. Along the flat open roads of East London you got the feeling everyone was in a hurry to get as much cycling done before the heavens opened. Once you pass the Tower of London and make your way along the Embankment and up Pall Mall, you begin to get the sense of what an amazing event the RideLondon event is and how unique it is to be able to fly along the normally cramped central London roads.
Soon enough I had reached Richmond Park and a welcome ‘20 mile’ sign. It was here that we were to meet one of the few remaining ascents, the rather mundane Sawyer’s Hill. At this point it felt like the cycle was going to be straightforward but as so often happens when you become complacent, a bump in the road or should I say torrential rain comes along!
It was the sort of downpour that you hope to be inside looking out on with a cup of tea, instead I was at the coalface being drenched for hours on end. The official journey was to take us through Kingston, Walton-on-Thames, Weybridge and through the countryside to Dorking. Each town greeted us with hoards of poncho-wearing maniacs. Their enthusiasm was greatly appreciated and helped make the trudge through knee deep floods and battling up road rivers that little easier. Each cheer lifted every ride and pushed them on.
By the time I had reached Dorking, my mixed feelings on having to miss Leith Hill and Box Hill gave way to the feeling of thankfulness on not having to attack those climbs in the state of tiredness/saturated I found myself in.
With mood suitably lifted, it was now less than 40km until the finish line and the promise of flatter terrain ahead, the rain even decided to ease. A steady procession of cyclists ensued which culminated in an “Olympic road race”-style sprint to the finishing line on The Mall.
The RideLondon 100 is a great event which I hope will continue for many more years. The stewards and supporters make it an uplifting event and I would recommend any cyclists reading this to take part next year (the ballot is open as of 18th August).
Please read my review of Peloton cycle jersey here….