Four years after completing the inaugural RideLondon I was back in the capital for another go. The first RL was a perfect day of sunshine and very little wind. This year wasn’t the same, with lots of rain the day before and overnight, only stopping as I left the Travelodge at 04:45 in the morning. The wind was to pick up as the morning went on as well, so not the perfect experience of last time, but nonetheless it was still awesome to be on closed roads and riding this event.
I had a much earlier start this year, 06:00 in Wave C, meant I was the third wave off. This was much better as there were far less people to negotiate during the ride, especially as I flew out of the blocks again, despite the wet roads.
My white kit certainly didn’t stay white for very long with a lot of spray being flicked up off of wheels, spotted dick sprang to mind. However I stood out as most people were in black kit or charity kits, this would help Emma at the finish line. There were a few occasions when I wished I had worn my charity top for Make-A-Wish UK. However it was disappointing not to see them at the top of Wimbledon Hill when I went through and then not to see them in the finish park, where they said they would be.
The start is fast, with just a bit of rolling terrain as you pass through Richmond Park, then a couple more small bites before you head to the Surrey Hills. The climbing starts before you reach Leath Hill, and Leath Hill itself does have a bite at the end.
As I descended off of Leath Hill I thought the front of the bike was feeling a little odd and then realised that I had a front puncture that was slowly deflating, just what I didn’t want! But considering the wet roads it was hardly surprising as so much flint sticks to the tyres. I made it to the bottom of the hill, round a hairpin and then off the bike to change the inner tube as quickly as possible.
Back on the bike I was straight into another drag up hill, it got the legs going again and I had to put the disappointment of the puncture behind me and just keep pushing. Next up was Box Hill, it wasn’t long before I reached the top. I was so much quicker up the hills than I was in 2013. I should be considering the amount of climbing I have done since then. All was well, although I wasn’t quite sure what time I was on. When we started I didn’t start the Garmin straight away as in 2013 we had a run through to mile 0, but what I didn’t realise was there was no run up now. So I had missed the first 3.4 miles and wasn’t sure how quickly I had cleared it.
I knew by the road markers I was about 3 miles off, so that wasn’t the problem, the problem was I didn’t know what my actual riding time was. I anticipated 15 minutes and about another 5 minutes for the puncture. This was to prove to be an over estimate on my part, which was good news!
With Box Hill cleared, it was a fast run through to Wimbledon and probably the hill most people remember from the ride, Wimbledon Hill at 91 miles is quite a cruel kick. To be fair it’s not much of a hill, a little steep but nothing major, it’s just the fact you’ve been pushing hard for 90 miles, it’s the last thing you want to see! However, once over it, it is a fast run to the finish line.
In my opinion it is the best finish to a sportive, 9 miles of fast road, passing some great landmarks and finishing on the Mall, it is simply awesome.
As we came into the finish, with little more than 2 miles left, I had just caught a group up as I pushed for home. I latched on to the back and as I did the last rider was just about to give up, he drifted back. I rode alongside him, gave him a shove forward and said “Now is not the time to fade, keep going mate!” I then moved in front of him and gave him a tow to the Mall, then he was on his own. My tow was caught on camera, although I am not sure if the guy was appreciative or not! I think he was!
With 150 meters to go I gave what I had left, which wasn’t a lot, but still fun to have a push on the Mall. I crossed the line and in my head I was just about under 5 hours and whilst feeling happy with my ride at this point I was a little disappointed with the weather and the puncture.
I made my way through to get my medal and had my photo taken, then I pulled in for my water and climbed off the bike to head for the meet point. I then remembered that I had recorded my ride on the official app. It was only then that I saw I had posted a time of 4 hours 41 minutes 49 seconds, I was really pleased with that, knowing the puncture had cost me and obviously wet roads aren’t as fast as dry ones! My moving time was 4 hrs 37 mins. What a ride, so much fun, I just love RideLondon and have entered the ballot for 2018. Although I won’t ride for charity again as it is a lot of hassle trying to get to the required amount.
Now that the last main event of the year is done, I am already planning 2018 events. I have a few in mind and am just waiting for them to take on registrations.
A few pics from RL.
And little comparison from 2013 to 2017 at the finish, with the same photo bomber, Emma.