I have taken part in the Ride London 100 mile event four times previously and if I am honest I was gutted not to be doing it again this year, however, with my ongoing knee issue I think this was actually a blessing.
I did get a place in the 46 mile event and thought well why not – something new, minus the hills, easier on my knee and I still get to finish and celebrate with my fellow Romford CC club friends.
One thing about the 100 miler is that depending on what start time you get it is more than likely to be an early start – one year I went off a little after 6am and had to be up at 4am. You are assigned a wave and colour and this determines what start pen you load. Each wave has a load start and finish time and this is an hour or so before your actually start time so there is some waiting around. The same process is followed for the 46 miler and I was in my pen for 8am and not setting off until 9:16am. All things considered a lay in compared to my friends doing the longer route!
I found this review hard as I have done the longer both when the shorter was not on offer and when it was and there is noticeable congestion when the routes merge. This year I was on the shorter route and saw it from the other side than I previously have and it was like suddenly there were cyclists everywhere at the merge point as there are more on the 100 mile route than the 46. There was also a 19 mile route on offer though I didn’t see any riders from that but it was congested and I was lucky to finish without having to walk over the finish line as I saw many do a little while later.
The route goes out through Richmond park following the same as the 100 miler but instead of going to the Surrey Hills it heads back into London and again meets the longer route again.
So what did I think? The route was lovely and it is fast. There was a wave that set off before me that had some obvious non-cyclists in it. I have no issue with this and I don’t want to come across as a cycling snob but there appeared to be a lot of people who were not aware of any sort of cycling etiquette and this is dangerous for all involved.
I actually had an argument with a man in Richmond Park who was dangerously moving across the path. The general rule is stay to the left, overtake on the right, be vocal and considerate of other cyclists and road users and let them know of your intentions ie shout out ‘on your right’ as you overtake (not in an aggressive way obviously). This gentleman thought I just wanted to overtake and go faster than him so I tried to explain but he was not happy and thought these were my rules. I explained this was common cycling etiquette and follows standard rules from the Highway Code to which he told me he didn’t need to as he was on a push bike. I despair at this! Yes it was a closed road event but if you are a road user, in any capacity, you follow the highway code and this applies to cyclists and not just cars!
My other bone of contention is with the Rider Safety Captains from Continental. This initiative is to have pairs of riders on the course at different intervals to assist other riders. This does not mean you have been given a jersey and a whistle and are a pro rider for the day shouting, whistling and racing in pelotons. I am sure many took this role seriously, as it was intended and were a huge help to others, but it would be interesting to have chip times checked and see the obvious ones who possibly selfishly took a place with the wrong intentions! I saw a lot of this as did many others on the course.
I was also stopped seven times to allow pedestrians to cross. Perhaps I was unfortunate but that seemed a lot for a 46 mile ride on closed roads. It was also dangerous as volunteers suddenly walked across with ropes to allow people to cross as you are approaching at speed.
The finish this year went past the horse guard which is new and then joined The Mall. Short ride up to get your medal and you are done. Was also lovely to be there to then cheer on friends.
The atmosphere is fab and I had a blast. I realise I have a few gripes here but overall I would recommend. There are logistic issues and I have no suggestions short of changing the schedule to overcome this and that comes at a huge expense so probably unrealistic.
There were issues on the day with crashes, delays and lack of medals but I didn’t experience any of that so can’t comment. I also didn’t use any of the rest stops so can’t comment on those either.
Ride 46 done!