It’s taken me a while to write about my Ride London experience as I’ve been unsure how I felt about it until one of the team of riders messaged me telling me off for not updating my blog!!!
I guess I see the Ride as split into 3:
- The journey from not owning a road bike to doing ride London (the journey as x-factor would phrase it – please insert dramatic music);
- The fundraising, which was a big part of why I wanted to do it; and
- The actual ride.
The journey was for me, one of the most enjoyable bits. From loops around hedge end of 15k building upwards in distance etc, the chats as the three of us cycled and the way we became closer. Probably a bit too close in relation to discussions about numb areas when cycling! But overall, the training side was the first time for me, one of the things I enjoyed and I think that was doing not just the event as a team but the training also. The number of whatsapp messages from the boss Jenny giving us some advice or other followed by Naomi and I playing the naughty school children always amused me. ps she knew we listened really and occasionally did what she said.
Also the effect of cross training really helped as I was doing some running, some swimming and some cycling and therefore having other things going on rather than having one goal really helped mentally. In terms of pure cycling training, on top of our normal weekly rides I did the Isle of Wight randonnee which was brutal and an 80 miler alone round the new forest which gave me a lot of confidence that I could do the mileage and that the gear I had was about right. Obviously before the race I had to buy something, so bought some new sunglasses! If you can’t buy gear for a race when can you!!!
The Fundraising I’ve covered on a separate blog, but we raised a hell of a lot for KIDS and Kicks count, about £2500. The bulk of the fundraising was done at a cyclathon which I was concerned no one would show up to. As it turns out it was a great day, we cycled a hell of a lot but had so many people come along and support us, cycle with us, bring jelly babies, buy raffle tickets etc. It really was one of those life affirming days.
Harry had his last day at Kids this week and I feel really proud that over the London Marathon and now Ride London I’ve been able to raise money for this charity.
The Actual Ride
Before I describe the day etc I thought I would try and describe my team mates. We’ve done the ride now so if they don’t talk to me again it’s one of those things
Jenny – the master mum of the group! The worrier, the gear checker, the one who must have do all the training even if ill. She was the one we turned to with a million and one questions as Naomi and I had no idea what we were doing. She doesn’t mention it much but she cycled up a mountain once and also bought a new bike for the race. No matter what happened she had to finish as she’d invested so much as opposed to the other two chancers who were having a go!
Naomi – the hill whippet who enlightened me on so many subjects I had no idea about. The flo app, the need to wear knickers under cycling shorts (a no no from what I gather), the double dipping of chamois cream, and a general dislike for taking things to seriously. She’s the one at school who would cause carnage but then smile and the teacher would blame someone else. Teacher – Jenny, someone else – me!!!
Me – body like Zac Effron, mind like Einstein and a level of modesty not seen in a modern man!
Anyway, Naomi and I were chauffeured up to London by Andy who had as driving snacks, scotch eggs and ginger beer (no idea why but I love that)! and then met Jenny and her family up in London that evening for dinner.
With a weather forecast of a light monsoon, I headed to Evans to try and get a better waterproof…as did everyone else so I gave up and went home to bed. There’s something very weird about going to bed with your bike at the end of the bed! No idea why but just very odd, especially as I lubed the chain before i went to sleep – Cycling has turned me into a nutter!!!! This is the bike post lube pre bed! (please note I put a towel under the chain in case of any lube falling off and damaging the carpet – mum will be proud!)
The day itself started with Naomi saying she’d meet me at 6:45 and texting me at 6:15 saying “I’m here, I was a bit nervous so thought I would leave a bit earlier!”. Right, quickly got out of bed, showered etc etc etc and went down to meet her. We double dipped the chamois cream and went to the start area. (Jenny was in an earlier wave so was going to meet us at the 11 mile checkpoint).
All very pleasant at the start, lots of chatting with various people, lots of debate about taking a waterproof (we took them thank goodness – none of this once you’re wet you’re wet stuff!).
As has been the norm on training rides, I always meet someone I know and this provides much mockery from the cackling ladies! Just to amuse them, on the way to the start I met a guy I went to sea scouts with and hadn’t seen since, Dicky Mint! Amazing who you meet
We both aged wonderfully !!!
Race started and it was quite nice to get going as it had started raining, went past a lady wearing a ski mask which in hindsight was genius or she was off to rob a bank…! The first 10 miles to the checkpoint to meet Jenny were uneventful, not too many people but nice cycling through London round Nelson’s Column etc and then got to the checkpoint and met our glorious leader.
I make those new sunglasses look good ! ps Jenny had gone for the “once you’re wet you’re wet approach”. We also saw a crash as we went to leave which reminded us that it was indeed skiddy but that also there were so many people you just can’t make a sudden movement.
Anyway, all good, cracked on and can’t remember what the mileage was but we’d agreed to stop at 25 ish miles at a checkpoint and got told not to by the marshall as we’d get swept up by the waggons. This properly panic’d us as that was not at all correct based on the info we were given, timings etc. either way we didn’t stop for food and instead carried on through Richmond park and to the next stop at 30 odd miles in a school field. Had some food, went for a wee, got more water and left the checkpoint feeling good. As we left, Jenny got a puncture (there were thousands on the day) and as she’s a stronger cyclist we went on slowly and she would catch us up having used the repair station at the checkpoint for speed in changing the tyre.
That was the last time we would ever see her……… alright it wasn’t that dramatic, we saw her at the finish. She had puncture after puncture after puncture and despite breaking her nails changing her tyres, being attacked by a pack of rabid dogs, surviving being stuck at sea for 10 days, having cycled up a mountain (have I mentioned that before?) – she got swept up by the wagon and got dumped at a tube station.
Meanwhile we went up Newlands hill and pulled over at the top to wait for her. It was so wet and so cold we couldn’t get our phones to work so just waited for quite a while. Eventually we managed to check our phones (and takes some pics obviously) and saw she had been swept up and was out of the race. We didn’t really say much but got on the bikes and got going. (pics at the top before the sad news)
A couple of miles later we start talking about it and both went with a lack of sadness for Jenny but lots of worry about her husband to be Dan, imaging him being beaten and stabbed with tyre levers! As much as we have subsequently taking the p1ss (a lot after an enforced 24hr non p1ss taking agreement), it was really sad not having mother hen to finish with us as we’d talked about the 3 of us finishing together so much. She’ll be back and she keeps saying how easy she found the first 40 miles and how she’s cycled up a mountain so it will be a breeze next year! Naomi and I will be in a pub supporting!
The rest of the race went fine, quite a few holds up where we had to stop and wait for quite a long time due to crashes etc and we were unable to go up Leith Hill and Box Hill which took some of the gloss off the race but obviously thoughts go to the family of the rider who passed away in one of the crashes.
Soon enough we went up Kingston Hill, had more pretzels than were strictly needed with 9 miles left to go and ambled into London. Obviously we took our rain coats off for the glory photos of us coming towards Buckingham Palace!!!
All in all a great experience as an event. I wont go looking to do it again but if the opportunity came up I would probably do it. I didn’t think it had the magic of the London Marathon but that may be because the rain kept the spectators away.
The main thing for me was that we raised a lot of money for charity and made a couple of great friends who wont admit it but they love my silly ideas and have signed up for a cycle to Paris next year!!!
The dream team, in a pub obviously: