RideLondon – Surrey

So there we have it, my first RideLondon and I’m pretty chuffed with myself to be honest.

100 miles completed in 5 hour 43 minutes. Rode the whole way with my brother alongside me – no cramping up and feeling like I was going to explode, until the last 50 metres when I realised I couldn’t sprint for the line!

I have to say, it was a really enjoyable ride, once it got going – it was a bit of a stop start morning for me, I didn’t think I’d make it to the start line! Here is why, my brother had come down from Birmingham with his partner on the Saturday, they had endless delays and didn’t get down here until late. We made a dash to the Excel, to register, missed Poplar tube stop where we had to change for the next tube to the Excel but got there with half an hour to spare to have a quick look around after registering. Here was me hoping that that, was it. No more bad luck please, Nice easy ride to the start and a safe ride around in sub six hours, please! However, my brother had other plans.

Not only did he struggle to get himself up in the morning for the ride but as we were carrying our bikes down the stairs (I live in flats, it’s only one flight, what could go wrong? Done it a hundred times) he somehow manages to slip and find his middle finger pointing in the wrong direction.

A sharp pull and with a satisfying click, it was back in place. Both looking at each other and thinking, ‘you are fine to ride. We are not going back, or to the hospital. You are doing this.’

The stream of cyclists on the way to the start was enough to get anyone ready to ride. It was exciting to see that many people in the cycle lanes of London and finally, the dream come true cycling London on closed roads. I have to interject myself here and say, well done to the organisers for getting everyone going pretty much bang on time! Amazing achievement.

I’ve never been from East to West London so fast, the combination of the closed roads, excitement and an ever changing peloton made sure we whipped through. Finally through Richmond Park and on to Kingston I was happy to leave London behind and get out towards the dreaded climbs…

One thing I did find is that there wasn’t that much chatter between riders, in sportives I’ve competed in of old, there is a good nitter natter, passing the time. The only thing I heard people do in this one in generally bitch and moan about other riders on the road. It’s the biggest sportive in the country, there’s going to be other riders on the road and yes, some of a different ability to you. So shouting “LEFT! LEFT!” at someone who is already riding in the gutter when there’s loads of room on the right just makes you look silly.

I did get slightly disgruntled at how seriously some people took this, everyone has their own agenda and that’s fine. Everyone wants to get around as quickly as possible, but please, give those going slower than you a break and enjoy yourself! It’s a sportive, not a race. At the bottom of Leith Hill, we pretty much came to a stand still, the bleep off Garmin’s going in to Autopause almost managed to drown out the amount of people complaining. Two chaps to my left summed it up, one was just getting really angry and almost started doing a Froome by running (this time with his bike) up Leith Hill, the other just started laughing and thought it was brilliant. I’m in the latter camp, however, starting Leith Hill from pretty much a standing start was not a laughing matter!

Then, came the descent, two completely separate incidents – and again a bit chapeau to the marshals here – ended with two people who were both being put in a neck brace and both of which needed the fantastic medical attention that such a sportive brings. Again though, people were getting annoyed that they were being told to slow down and stop. Bigger picture guys.

On a less moaning note though, the support! Wow, riding through Dorking, I sat up and had a look around at everyone lining the streets, cheering, getting excited at a load of completely unknown cyclists pedalling through their village. It was fantastic, I wanted to pull over and buy a burger and have a beer! My brother wouldn’t let me though, said it would slow us down for going up Box… Pft. The beautiful Surrey Countryside ahead of you and a wonderful looking town, thank you so much to every single supporter. Your support was greatly appreciated and helped, a lot! Not just in Dorking but along the whole course!

It’s amazing how your mind finds the smallest things funny when you’re out on a long ride. Short of my brother dislocating his finger, the thing that really tickled me was a conversation I overhead while going up Box Hill. A very short conversation between what I think was a couple. He wasn’t getting up as easily as her, the conversation went like this:

Her: “Just put it in a lower gear and spin it out.”

Him: “Yeah. Thanks, love.”

Just the advice you need as you’re struggling to get along.

The ride back in to London was so very enjoyable, I even enjoyed Wimbledon Hill! It’s true, I knew that after that, it’s plain sailing straight to The Mall. However, I think I was praying for it too quick as every time I glanced down at my Wahoo ELEMNT (blog coming on this shortly) the distance rarely seemed get closer to the magical 100!

A really enjoyable day, and then as I type this out, there is also the very sad news of Robin Chard suffering cardiac arrest around the 25 mile mark. My thoughts go out to his family and friends, such a tragedy. The money which Robin raised and continues to raise on his Just Giving page is fast approaching the £30,000 mark. Chapeau Robin.

See you again soon RideLondon.

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