Ride London – a little bit eventful and interesting!

A sea of riders in the early morning light

Well, that was an interesting weekend. Up to London on Friday and registered for the Ride London sportive early Saturday morning …. but that didn’t go well.

I went to the correct ‘kiosk’ and gave my number, they played back to me my name and checked my id. They then put my envelope in a bag and gave it to me. OK, I could have checked it but I rather assumed they might be up to picking out an envelope to match the number I gave them. When I got back to the flat, I discovered that was a bit of an over-estimation as they had given me the adjoining envelope.

I phoned, but the recorded message said there were no staff in the office and emergencies could be notified by email. I sent the email and over 2 hours later got a reply to the effect the query had been passed to the entries team. I heard nothing from that team (and still haven’t today) so I used the wrong stickers and hoped for the best. In the end, my wife used the tracker facility later that day and discovered I had been changed to the number that I’d been given at the registration, rather than my own, original, number. I’d have relaxed more if they’d had told me!

I set off from the flat at 4am on Sunday morning (much too early for me) to cycle across London to the start at the Olympic Park. Even then it was a decent temperature but riding unfamiliar roads in the dark was a bit spooky. I wasn’t sure of the route (and couldn’t see my Garmin in the dark) but followed some other riders who seemed to know where they were going. Eventually more riders joined from all directions and by the time we got near to the start we were probably a couple of hundred strong.

Into the starting pen for yet another wait and off about 6.30am.

Once we sorted ourselves out after the start it all went pretty fast – over 20mph (32kph) through London on closed roads (fighting the instinct to stop at red lights).

The ride continued to go well – at 50km I was averaging 33.1kph (31 miles at 20.5mph).

I gave up some of that speed later but was still over 32kph after 90km (20+mph at 56 miles) despite having lost all my rear gears. Clearly my rear mech cable had snapped leaving me with just the two gears – 50×11 and 34×11. They were some testing kms (!) but then I spotted a roadside cycle mechanic – I think it was his home but he and some friends were offering assistance, water and flapjacks – what heroes!

I lost about 50 minutes while the work was done and remounted gratefully, with a full set of gears.

The run back into London was great although there were a few hold-ups as we got to places where they needed to let other traffic across the route. It got a bit more congested as we neared the end on the Mall (in front of Buckingham Palace) because the various route distances merged but I had a great run to the finish.

I wouldn’t have stopped, but for the mechanical, but the Garmin recorded 99 miles at a moving average of 18.45mph (160km at 29.7kph).With the little cycling I’ve done this year (only about 1470km or 900 miles before this ride) because of April’s marathon rather getting in the way, I’ve just got to be pleased – and I am. Clearly, the running, gym and planks are helping, along with the week cycling out in the alps and even my club’s 35 mile sportive with my wife.

It was enjoyable and good fun and our sons joined my wife to greet me at the finish – how good is that.

9 thoughts on “Ride London – a little bit eventful and interesting!

    1. The Omil Post author

      Thank you. I was lucky – somewhere around 90km there was a bike mechanic’s van parked at the roadside outside the chap’s house – even more luckily, it was just before Box Hill. The attractions of the two gear version of riding were starting to wear a bit thin by then.

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    1. The Omil Post author

      Thank you very much. It takes a bit of faith to trust that the lights don’t apply – you tend to be a bit committed to crossing when travelling at that speed!

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  1. hurleybird79

    You lived the logistical nightmare I feared when I won an entry to RideLondon! I decided against entering after I looked at the huge hassle of getting to and from the event. But I do love a closed road event, which is why it’s such a shame that the Wales Velothon got canned.

    Sounds like you had a great ride though, apart from the mechanical. Would you do it again?

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    1. The Omil Post author

      Thank you.
      I agree that the Velothon is a loss – I did the first one and really liked that too (except for the tacks on the road).
      Without access to the flat, I’d have been in your camp and probably not taken up the place on Ride London, I’m glad I did and, beguiled by the closed roads, I’ve entered for next year – but not getting a place won’t break my heart.
      I know you are an alps veteran and I must admit to being tempted by the JPP Sportive (JPP being John Pierre Papin the 1991 European footballer of the year) if I can organise my annual alpine trip to coincide with it in 2020.

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