I deferred my place in RideLondon last year and had hoped that I would be able to train and take part this year. Sadly, things have not gone as smoothly as I had hoped.
I am unable to defer my place again, so I can either take part in the event or keep my fingers crossed that I am lucky enough to get a place again in future. I was erring towards the latter until I read about the launch of the London Classics:
“The unique challenge requires participants to: run the Virgin Money London Marathon, cycle 100 miles in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and swim two miles at Swim Serpentine, the open water swimming festival.”
I hope that one day I’ll get a place in London Marathon. Swim Serpentine may now be added to my itinerary for 2018.
Training for RideLondon
Today, I planned a training ride. I agreed that I would cycle out into the New Forest and do a loop via Beaulieu and Buckler’s Hard before meeting my husband and in-laws at the Drift Inn.
The ride out of the city is always slow. There are lots of traffic lights and although there is a new section of cycle path, the road is abysmal in places. Finally, I made it to Eling, which is where the enjoyable part of my ride begins. However, just five minutes later, my enjoyment waned…
Follow your nose
I cycled across a busy road and was immediately hit by a pungent smell. The road was covered in manure and I assumed that a muck spreader must have recently passed that way.
I cycled on a little further and was surprised to find the traffic at a virtual standstill. As we were not yet into the New Forest, I was not sure of the cause. Rroaming animals, such as horses, cows and donkeys, often cause the traffic to stop in the Forest.
Cars started to turn off and I was able to see the reason for the hold up: 5 pairs of horses and gigs. The gypsies obviously did not want to get split up. Whenever the road widened or there was the possibility for some cars to pass, one of the gigs would pull out and overtake another. This was very frustrating for the queue of traffic. I really didn’t enjoy this part of my ride. The road was covered in excrement and I was stuck behind a car that was belching out hot fumes. I was surprised to see quite a few police 4x4s. I assumed that they were aware that gig racing might be about to take place.
Finally, at Ipley Cross the gigs turned off and I was able to continue on my ride. I cycled past Beaulieu and headed towards East Boldre before cycling towards Buckler’s Hard and then back towards the Drift Inn.
Arriving at the Drift Inn
As I neared the pub, I was able to see that there was an enormous gathering. There were crowds of people in the road, police wearing high-viz jackets, cars parked everywhere and on the scrubland opposite the pub were lots of horses and gigs.
I took my bike into the pub garden where my family were meeting. We had agreed that Baby M would spend some time with her grandparents whilst Stuart joined me for a couple of hours. I had a quick drink and then we were off again.
Stuart had planned a nice route that involved heading back to Beaulieu before heading out towards Exbury Gardens and Lepe beach. I’ve not cycled this way for a long time – I think it was probably back in April last year when I went for a ride with Teri. That time, the road by the beach was covered in sand – fortunately it was clear this time. I’m not particularly familiar with this route, but a lot of it is the same as Solent Half marathon, which I’ve run a couple of times, so it brought back some happy memories.
Returning to the Drift Inn
By the time Stu and I got back to the Drift Inn, the crowds had dispersed. It was as the gypsy flash mob had never been there. We’d noticed a wedding party at the pub when we were there earlier; this time we saw the happy couple having photos taken amongst the trees.
I stopped for a little while to chat with my in-laws and feed M. I also had a quick snack, before leaving to cycle home alone. As I got to Ipley Cross, I noticed some raindrops. This was all the incentive I needed to pick up my pace a bit. Luckily, the rain eased off, but I tried to maintain my pace. I had hoped that I would be able to do my ride without too many hold ups. The traffic jam earlier meant that I didn’t really have a clear idea of my average pace.
As I got towards home, I hit 110km, just before the timer hit 5 hours. I’ll need to be able to ride another 50km in a fortnight. Hopefully, determination (and a bit of drafting) will get me through.
Have you done RideLondon before? What are your tips?