I spent a long time dithering about whether I should take part in RideLondon-Surrey 100 this year. I got my place in 2016, but as I was pregnant, I did not feel that it would be advisable to take part in the event. (Physically, I was fit enough, but I was too wary of being knocked off my bike). That meant that if I did not ride this year, I would forfeit my place. RideLondon is not yet as popular as the London Marathon, but I have no doubt that its popularity will continue to grow.
The London Classics
I was still pondering my options when I read about the new London Classics medal. It’s a similar idea to the Long Course Weekend, where participants who complete the 3.8k swim, 112-mile bike ride and Wales marathon are awarded a special medal. Anyone who completes the Serpentine Swim (2 miles), RideLondon (100 miles) and London Marathon (26.2 miles), in any order, is eligible for the medal.
I realised that I might never get another opportunity to do RideLondon, so I thought I should seize the opportunity. By next year, M will be old enough to spend the day with her grandparents or other relatives, so Stu and I could both do the Serpentine Swim. Stu would then be eligible for the London Classics. Hee’s already done London Marathon (twice) and will be doing RideLondon next year. (He kindly deferred to look after M for the day). I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that I will one day get a place in the London Marathon.
The RideLondon Expo
I had assumed that the RideLondon Expo would be on a grand scale like the London Marathon Expo. There were some nice features, such as the course route map.
There was also a photo booth near the Expo exit, so I posed for some pics:
Overall, I found the Expo to be fairly disappointing. I had thought there might be stands for the major bike brands and some lovely bikes to look at. I realise at this point, people would be unlikely to be buying new bikes, but then I didn’t think people bought bikes at any of the cycling expos that I’ve been to. Instead, they would have a captive audience of people who are keen cyclists. I had also assumed that there would be a lot more cycling kit on sale and innovative products. There was a range of RideLondon commemorative kit available and a few other brands, but not as much as I had hoped.
Getting to the start
Stuart, M and I stayed in a hotel just a few miles from the start. We had thought about staying with my aunt in Dorking, but I would have had to get up very early. This way, I was able to cycle to the start. Being in one of the last waves had advantages and disadvantages. I could get up a bit later, but the pressure was on to beat the cut-offs.
I was the first person in the hotel breakfast area, but it wasn’t long before it was full of cyclists.
By the time I left the hotel, the crowds of cyclists were long gone. I was grateful to see someone else with a race number on. We started talking and managed to find the route to the Olympic Park together.
There was plenty of time to chat with other cyclists (and take some selfies) before we got to the start line.
My plan was to push myself, but not to race as I knew I would need to save some energy. I didn’t want to waste time by stopping too early, so I decided to just drink and I what I had with me until I got to Box Hill.
Richmond Park was one of my favourite parts of the ride. I wish there was somewhere like that locally where I could train. It’s absolutely stunning and the roads are beautifully smooth.
I was concerned about being too slow, so it’s nice to see that there are hundreds of cyclists behind me in the photo above!
I understood that the three main climbs on the ride are Newlands Corner, Leith Hill and Box Hill. I don’t remember Newlands Corner, so that can’t have been too bad.
There were some other cyclists near me who commented about how relieved they were to have completed Leith Hill. Unfortunately, that was before we had got there and after we had just cycled up a slight undulation.
There were a number of holdups when I got to Leith Hill because of accidents, so we had to stop and wait. When we got going again we were in a tightly packed group, so no-one could weave. Some idiots were trying to race past but it simply wasn’t safe to do so.
I felt relieved when I reached Box Hill as I had been worried about missing cutoffs up to that point.
It was hot, but I didn’t want to waste time by stopping to remove my arm warmers.
It’s been many years since I’ve been up Box Hill, so I was expecting it to be much tougher to cycle up it. In comparison with some of the climbs I’ve done, it was quite easy.
After a quick stop for a loo break, drink and snacks at the top of Box Hill, it was on to Dorking. I didn’t see them, but my mum, aunt and M were there. They saw me and shouted some encouragement.
I’m looking worried in some of the photos. I think it’s because I was concentrating as barriers kept being put up to allow spectators to cross the roads.
For me, the toughest climb on the course was Wimbledon Hill. It’s neither long nor particularly steep, but it comes at a point when your energy supplies are running low. I was grateful when I made it to the top as it was then onto some fast flat roads back into London.
Finally, I was on the Mall. I knew I was going to achieve a time under 7 hours, which was far better than I expected.
I really enjoyed this event in the end and was glad that I took part. Now I need to keep my fingers crossed that I get a place in London Marathon so that I can aim for the London Classics medal.