It had been a long while since I did a proper ride, so when my friend Graham suggested riding the Ride London 46 how could I not join him? Yes, yes, I have ridden further – London to Paris over four days twice back in 2010 and 2011. And yes, yes there is a Ride London 100 which I’ve had in mind since it was established back in 2013. In fact I even got a place on that in its first year, but had to turn it down as we ended up being in America that weekend. But even so, 46 miles in less than four hours (the required minimum time) felt like quite enough of a challenge.
And so today, after not quite enough training, we headed down to London. Graham had a plan of where to park in a residential area in Hackney, so after an early alarm call and a smooth drive down our first ride was just over four miles from there to the Olympic Park where the ride starts.
Eek! Look at that route. I’m sure we could have saved ourselves a bit of distance there, but hey, we followed the signs. Anyway, it was a nice warm up. Unfortunately we didn’t stay warm for long, as just after we’d placed all our belongings on the lorry that would take them to the end and been corralled into our starting area, the rain started. It never got too heavy, but we were held in our waiting area for about an hour and half, and even light rain soaks you through in that time. When the breeze came I was getting seriously cold to the point of shivering.
And that was the worst part of the day. Wet through and cold before we’d even started.
In the waiting area between showers. Still smiling at this point! (And indeed for most of the day.)
Eventually we found ourselves at the start line, and we were off. Still raining at this stage, it took a while to warm up, but it was a delight to be cycling among such a crowd (there’s about 40,000 people riding altogether) and on closed roads. I’ve never ridden on a ‘closed roads’ ride before, and it’s a really lovely experience.
My poor training meant after about 15 miles I was beginning to flag a bit, but an energy gel boost got me back up to speed soon enough and we enjoyed a decent pace for amateurs. The great thing about a mass ride like this is that everyone doing it together drives you on and encourages you. Even more so, those that come out to stand by the side of the route and cheer on complete strangers. Always a boost. And the route is lovely.
We only stopped once (and only briefly for a wee) after which it was Graham’s turn to flag a bit but soon enough we were back up to our cruising speed of between 14 and 15 mph. Now, as I said before I’ve ridden further. Day one of London to Paris was 84 miles to Dover, so 46 miles should have been easy, right? But as we rode I realised the big difference: our 84 miles to Dover was broken up into smaller chunks as we stopped every 20/25 miles for a break. 46 miles with only a loo stop was harder than I expected, but I was also delighted to find we got round with a riding time of 2:59. They expect you to be able to ride it in under four hours, and I’d really thought I’d be coming in longer than three and a half, so to ride under three hours was great.
Could I do the 100 some time? I’d need some proper training, but yes, I really think I should aim to do it…
Until then, it’s not too late to make a donation. Don’t forget we were riding for Breast Cancer Care in memory of Graham’s wife Lois who he lost far too young. Oh, and today should have been their 18th wedding anniversary. Thank you to all who have sponsored me, and if you haven’t, please please do consider it. Heres a link:
Tired but happy
Here’s the details of the ride:
(Hang on: I don’t remember reaching 270.1 mph!? Can only assume this is where my GPS lost me in the Limehouse link tunnel then found me again and jumped me forward instantaneously.)
Oh, and to finish the day we then had a gentle ride back to Graham’s sneaky parking space, which was another 47 minutes in the saddle, this time partly sharing roads with other traffic and partly along the Regent’s Canal towpath. A lovely end to the day.