RideLondon 100: Race Report (And A Brief Run-In With Authority)

Long-time (and even short-time) readers will know that RideLondon has been a major theme on this blog over the past few months.

The inaugural running of the event took place on Sunday 4 August (two days ago as I write). I thought you might like to know how I got on.

Oh, you don’t?

Well tough, I’m going to tell you anyway.

The Bare Facts

I finished. I never found myself in any danger of being swept up by the broom wagon or forced to take one of the course-shortening detours. I didn’t puke. Good times.

Talking of times, my official result was 6:40:42. My Garmin has my moving time as approximately 6:16, once you take off the 7 minutes it took to get from the ‘start’ to mile zero (the depart fictif).

I reckon my actual moving time was perhaps 15 minutes or so less than this. The food stops (or ‘hubs’ in RideLondon language) were like long conga rides of dismounted cyclists desperately trying to grab bananas, energy drinks and, curiously, sour cream flavoured pretzels. At the first hub (Hampton Court), the walk from the dismount point to the food stands was a good 200 yards through the palace gardens, which I assume my Garmin recorded as moving time.

Anyway, long and short of it, I reckon I was riding for about 6 hours. Which I’m pleased with.

And Those Infamous Climbs?

RideLondon Box Hill Top
Riders approaching the top of Box Hill – the last of the three main climbs

I last rode up Leith Hill and Box Hill in March.

Since then:

  • I’ve moved to the Peak District, where much of the cycling is in an upwards direction;
  • I’ve purchased a new bike that (a) fits, and (b) has a compact chainset;
  • I managed to get a solid block of training done in Majorca (which sounds very pro, but is, in fact, not).

As a result, my times for Leith Hill (the ‘Leith Hill, northbound’ segment on Strava) and Box Hill (‘Box Hill (roundabout to peak)’) were faster by 3 mins 20 seconds and 4 mins 53 seconds, respectively.

Again, I’m pleased with those times but reckon I’ve got plenty ‘in the tank’ to improve further with some consistent, structured training.

The Pre-Race Preparation (And That Run In With “Authority”)

The run up to my ride on Sunday did not go well. This is not because I followed the advice in my (spoof) post from last week.

Fate (and the two superbug-harbouring pre-schoolers that I live with) conspired to bestow me with a virus during the week. I was still suffering on Saturday, as I made my way to the Excel centre to register. With blocked nose and heightened anxiety levels, I reckon I slept for just 3 hours on Saturday night.

My stress levels went through the roof on the way to the start. The whole family were staying with friends in Kingston. My mate (who had generously got up at 5am) was due to drive me to an official drop-off point near Tower Bridge.

We knew we had to cross the route for literally one second at the end of my mate’s street to get to the A3. We knew the road would be closed for the ride. We didn’t know it would be blocked from 5am onwards (one hour before the first wave started… a good 20 miles away). Nor did we expect such jobsworth security guards.

In the end, after 30 minutes of futile pleading, with my ride and £1,100 of charity money seemingly slipping away, we cracked and (Dukes Of Hazard-style) went up on the curb and raced through the road block. Take that, paramilitary-styled security men. Ka-blam-mo.

Thankfully things got a little better after that. We sped through the empty streets of London. The drop off point was clearly marked and easy to use. The route to the start was well-signposted and provided a gentle spin to warm up the legs. After some water, a pre-ride comfort break and a few of my trusty jelly babies, I was up for the task ahead.

The Highlights Of The Day

RideLondon The Mall Finish
A host of relieved cyclists…

I’ll do a detailed review of RideLondon as a sportive (the route, the organisation etc) in another post.

For now, I’ll just give you a few of the high points:

1. Cycling on closed roads

This was awesome. Sweeping down past Harrods, riders filling both sides of the roads. The peleton splitting as some cyclists went the wrong way around roundabouts (Tour de France style!). Marshalls standing on traffic islands, waving flags and blowing their whistles.

Like many people, I’ve never ridden on roads closed to other vehicles (and pedestrians). It was a privilege to have the experience.

2. The support

No one ever claps you (or welcomes you to Cobham) on other sportives. They do in RideLondon. There were loads of people out on the streets cheering on the riders and offering helpful tidbits of information (“You’re 200 yards from the top”; “Esher is your next stop” (presumably a wannabee train conductor); “Boris is eight minutes in front of you” (he wasn’t)).

As I was wearing the charity’s jersey, I got a lot of, “Come on, Macmillan!”, which I appreciated.

The ride down the finish straight on the Mall, with spectators cheering, banging the hoardings and high-fiving the finishers was particularly memorable. I clean forgot to outsprint another rider, zip up my jersey and point to my sponsor.

3. A sportive through London

Sportives often pass through areas of natural beauty. Urban areas only tend to feature when the route simply can’t avoid them.

RideLondon was obviously different. The clue might be in the name.

Partly this relates to my point one, but as a former London bike commuter, it was great to pass such familiar sights in the company of hundreds of other cyclists, without having to worry about traffic lights and HGVs.

Sportives generally don’t go down roads like Piccadilly, Whitehall and the Mall. This one did and awesome it was.

And Finally

Thank you to those of you that sponsored me. So far I’m up to £1,165 (to which we add gift aid).

Your generous donations encouraged me to keep up the training. You were the drunken, mankini-wearing Australians pushing me up Leith Hill*.

* That’s a metaphor…

Monty - Sportive Cyclist
Monty is an enthusiastic road cyclist with only moderate talent. He started Sportive Cyclist in 2013 to record the journey to his first 100 mile ride, the RideLondon 100. Over time the blog has expanded to include training advice, gear reviews and road cycling tales, all from the perspective of a not-very-fit MAMIL. Since you're here, Monty would also like you to check out his YouTube channel. Also, Monty really needs to stop referring to himself in the third person.

23 thoughts on “RideLondon 100: Race Report (And A Brief Run-In With Authority)”

  1. Congrats to the Grimpeur on a great ride! 6 hours or just 6+ hours, with climbing, sounds great to me. That’s my goal time for relatively flat centuries near me.

    Great review of the ride. I can sympathize with the little ones getting you sick and then the lack of sleep. I’ve been there on both counts. The lack of sleep seems to hurt more in my case. Great job overcoming those setbacks. Looking forward to the next review.

  2. Well done! It makes me a bit emotional thinking about it now! One hundred miles of closed roads – just amazing. My companions were in punchy form and I spent a lot of it thinking “I can never keep this pace up!”, but without them I’d never have achieved the time I did! It’s just so unusual never to have to put your foot down. I had 2 refreshment stops and a pause for a friend’s “bonk”, and that was it. Coming down Putney Hill was amazing, then caning it along the new kings rd/embankment was something else – never again am I likely to undertake my commute at nearly 40kmh!!
    Can’t wait to register for next year!

  3. Was really keen to read the review having followed the preparatory RideLondon blogs and did Box Hill a week beforehand – now living in Hong Kong but from Esher, Surrey and made the 6000 mile journey home for the ride; made round it in 8hrs on a hired entry level Raleigh….Absolutely agree with all the Grimpeur’s comments – the crowds, and oh yes, the Mall! – and feel so lucky to have been a part of it. Friends have been very generous for Action for Children. My first sportive and won’t be my last – a mountain biker who now has the road riding bug. Am trying to persuade the powers that be that we need a “Ride Hong Kong” but will be back in London for 2014. Can’t wait!

  4. Agree with all of that, it was the best day ever. the 40min ride to the start line settled the nerves perfectly and the closed roads in central London were AMAZING (Box Hill, Leith Hill etc tends to get closed for other stuff, much to the chagrin of the locals).

    Highlight?? Putney Hill was great fun which, being home turf, I could take flat out knowing where everyspot of gravel is. Getting to the top of Leith Hill and admiring the view about 9am was tremendous.

    Lowlight?? I found the stretch from the bottom of Box Hill to Wimbledon utterly devoid of interest, although this was more to do with my hydration levels not being great rather than the environs. I got off at Sandown Park and “had a word with myself” and it seemed to work.

    Local knowledge is vital!!!! I turned the corner onto Wimbledon highstreet with a bloke whio hadn’t been there before and he baulked at the size of the climb leaving Wimbledon. Knowing that it’s only about 100yrds and then pan-flat/downhill from then on made a massive difference!

    • Thanks Martin. I certainly found the bit coming back near Esher quite disheartening. I wouldn’t have been aware of the Wimbledon hill (despite thinking that I knew the area quite well), had it not been for another blog reader (Giles I think) mentioning way back in March as a comment on my route analysis post. Knowing about it in advance certainly helped.

      Same time next year?


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