Yesterday was the Prudential Ride London bike event. This event is 100 miles starting from the Olympic Park in Stratford heading out to Surrey through the Surrey Hills and back again to London to finish on The Mall. What is different about this event is that it is closed roads, which makes such a difference – no having to stop and unclip from the pedals for traffic lights, zebra crossings, junctions its just go go go.
To get a place for this event you have to put in to a ballot and so it is dependant on that if you get in – and everyone wants a place! You can of course go for a charity place. It was the third year this year and I must admit feels like it is becoming a bit like the London Marathon and whilst that is also an amazing event charity places do require such huge amounts of money which in itself can be a daunting commitment without any of the training for the actual event itself.
I was lucky and got a place and between the members of my club getting either a ballot place or opting for a charity place there were so many of us taking part not forgetting the all important friends and partners and family members that are waiting for us all at the finish line or in either St James’s park or Green park with food and drink after the event.
The event starts at 6am and you are allocated in advance a wave colour, letter and number and a time to set off though this ranges up to 9am so it is the luck of the draw if you are near someone else’s time so you can ride with them. You can pull over as you go through and wait for people though again depends on the time difference. I was lucky as there were six of us who regularly cycle together and our start times ranged from 6am to 6:09am so we agreed in advance we would ride as a group.
The benefit of having an early start time is that there is less people on the road already though does mean your alarm is set for some ungodly hour which is still in the middle of the night in my opinion! Saturday I set my alarm for 5am with the logic that by 8pm I would get in bed and be able to sleep so that I had a decent sleep before my alarm was to go off at 3.45am! And it worked! By 7:30am I had made my own energy bars, two batches of cupcakes, done the washing and was in the local park with the husband and the pooch! Our friend Rob came down from Stafford and stayed with us and through the day different friends popped in (Tim, Rich, Nikki, Jhon, Sophie and Hugh). By the time 6pm came around we had dinner with Rob, Sophie and Hugh and after eating our body weights in pasta we were the most unsociable bunch ready for bed, which we all did.
Hugh drove us with the bikes to the start line bless him which was amazing as the trains do not run that early! We checked in our bags and headed to our start pens. It was busier than last year as I think so many people pulled out because of the awful weather and it took some time to get to our pens which seemed to be chaos and full of all different numbers and colours and so they had to create an overflow pen which Minnie and I got directed into meaning the rest of our bunch (Brett, Tim, Sophie and Lisa) had gone through and were patiently waiting wondering where we were. The holding pen meant we were delayed by half an hour! But we were ready for the off!
As we went through we saw the rest of our group and our ride began.
The first 50 miles or so are through London and flat and so before you know it you are halfway through the ride to be greeted by the first of the 3 main hills, Newlands Corner. On the hills there is a lot of congestion and you can often only go as fast as the person in front of you as there is simply no room to go round. The rule (or rather courtesy) is that the slower riders stick to the left and faster riders to the right so you will often here ‘on your right’ being shouted so you are aware someone is about to pass. Don’t get me wrong if a hill beats you then you have two choices unclip and stop or keep trying and probably fall over! There were a few just stopping anywhere and so quick manoeuvring is required but the first hill was done and we decided to stop in a hub for a loo break.
I must mention the eggs here. One of our group had bought some hard boiled eggs with her and at the hub asked if anyone wanted an egg. Lisa B has a heart of gold, mad as a bunch of frogs but we love her. We didn’t much love the eggs, or the smell of the eggs. We also wondered where she had been keeping them for 50 odd miles?!
Once you are in the Surrey Hills it is rolling hills most of the way and I knew we had the beast coming up – Leith Hill. Last year because we had the tail end of Hurricane Bertha some of the roads were flooded and they deemed them too dangerous so the course was cut short and I didn’t get to do either Leith Hill or Box Hill – at the time I was half relieved I didn’t have to do them but at the same time felt like I hadn’t really completed the whole thing and so this year I would do the full ride but Leith Hill petrified me. It is one of those hills that just keeps going and then it turns and then kicks up again and then turns and kicks up again and then turns and kicks up again. It’s a bit like Old Church B*tch hill I train on but longer and steeper and worse. I really didn’t want to have to stop on this hill and walk – I am way too stubborn! I am not sure what was worse my husband joking halfway up that we were done or as you see the next kick seeing all the cyclists out of their seats barely moving climbing up. My stomach was filled with dread and I think I had already come to terms with the fact that I was going to have to get off my bike. But I didn’t!!!! I only went and cycled up the beast they call Leith Hill!! All of us did!! I breathed a sigh of relief knowing the worst was over and could relax for the remainder of the ride.
The only good thing about hill climbing is that you get a descent afterwards and the descent from Leith Hill was amazing! It was pretty much all downhill until we reached Box Hill which is a zig zag hill. As we hit the first zig my husband pointed out the huge hill next to us to tell me we were going to the top, I told him to f*ck off, I did not need to know that. It was a steady incline that just zigged and zagged four times I think and we were done though first we passed one crazy lone man on a corner literally screaming ‘Woooooh you can do it go on woooooh’ and I must say the people who come out to see this ride and cheer the riders on make the atmosphere amazing it really gets you going. My husband in particular likes to shout to tell them to cheer and we laugh as we pass through towns with this ripple of cheering.
As you can see from our kit we stand out – remember when Sophie and I did a ride and one guy said he couldn’t work out if the kit was hideous or genius – well it worked and for the whole route we were being cheered on – go Romford!! It was amazing! Of course they were all there for us, just us, Romford CC ha ha.
Before we knew it we were on the final ten miles and heading back through London to the finish. Two of our other team members, Jamie and Jason, had stopped to wait for us so we could finish together and so as we hit the Mall we formed a line which consisted of Jamie, Jason, Brett, Tim, Sophie, Minnie, Lisa B and me and we went down The Mall in that line and crossed the finish in that line. It was epic! I am praying someone got a photo of it!! It was so emotional to finish together after having rode together. We had cycled as a six, sang, joked, chatted, laughed and it was probably my most favourite ride to date I loved it!
We all clocked our Garmin’s hit the 100 mile mark and stopped and saved our ride data. Cycled to the end of The Mall to get our medals, goody bags and collect our kit bags we had left in the morning. I must say this event is so well organised it is so easy for checking and collecting the bags, the hubs always have so much food and drink (though it can take the best part of half an hour getting in and out), there are St John’s ambulance along the way and Mavic support motorbikes and cars.
At the end we have a super team of supporters including wives, husbands, partners, friends and family. In Green park they letter the trees so it’s easy to arrange a meeting point (R for us for Romford CC) and we then spend hours eating and drinking and talking about the ride.
I took loads of pics so this post will have more photos than usual. My sister came up with my nieces and here is me with my gorgeous niece Ellie:
Here is the Queen herself the lovely Sophie:
My son Jack:
Our singing, crazy, eggy Lisa B:
A family shot with the husband, son and his girlfriend Elisha:
And last but by no means least my husband who stayed with me on every hill and was amazing!
So this year I got my second Prudential Ride London medal and for the full thing! Super chuffed!!
We did run out of plastic glasses for the celebrations afterwards though you get a water bottle in your goody bag so they were used for wine instead (we are that classy)!
I also want to mention my friend Becky – she bought a bike about 3 months ago but only started cycling 2 months ago and got a place with her work for this ride. I thought she was mental – 100 miles is a long way on a bike. She did it! Just goes to show what you can do with determination! Amazing!
I saw this in a porta loo – I know I am slightly going to lose some of the meaning seeing as this was written on the inside of a toilet cubicle but still you get the gist!
What made it even better was that I weighed myself today and lost another 1.5 lbs so the plaque is updated too – what an amazing weekend!