RideLondon 2014: Share Your Success

Pour the water out of your wellies cycling shoes. Wring out your bibshorts. RideLondon became SwimLondon.

No matter (certainly not to me, sat in the dry in Derbyshire).

I hypothesise that the majority of participants had a great time, irrespective of the weather and the slight shortening of the course.

(And yes, the medal in the photo is from 2013 – I didn’t get a place in the 2014 ballot, though I did get a rain jacket…).

Help Me Test My Hypothesis – Share Your RideLondon Story

I’ve already received a few emails from drowned rats readers but I WANT TO HEAR MORE!

Let me know in the comments below how your day went: what you enjoyed, what you found tough, how you felt at the end.

If you want, think of it as a short message to your former (pre-RideLondon) self.

Inspire that person to make sure they enter the ballot again at the start of next year (as I intend to).

There Is No Prize For Commenting

Only the warm glow of a job done well and the flickering candle of hope that you too, may inspire someone to pick up a sturdy steel, carbon, alloy, bamboo steed and cycle a long way…

Got it?

COMMENT! Grazi in advance…

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.

48 thoughts on “RideLondon 2014: Share Your Success”

  1. I’ll kick it off for you. It was wet. And windy. But not cold. Rather like (I imagine) setting up your turbo trainer in a bath tub with the shower on and a dyson air blade (other fans are available) driving the water into your face. I took my rain jacket off after a while as it was totally soaking and I figured if I’m wet anyway it would be better not to have as many layers. But fun, and well organised. Missing out on box and leith hills was a shame, but totally understandable. It was more miserable I imagine for all the spectators, mostly committed people from charities who stood on the pouring rain for hours enthusiastically cheering everyone on, which is why if people haven’t donated anything yet then they should because that was a major feat of endurance. There weren’t many people out, but the ones who were were hard core. I’ll definitely do it next year (if I can get a place) as unfortunately there weren’t too many people lining the streets, other than the ones one mentioned who gave it everything they had, so the atmosphere was a bit flatter than it could have been and it would have been good to do the full distance. Closed roads were awesome. All in all, really enjoyed it despite the weather. Strangely, no one cycled on the right hand side of the road, which was weird and they should advertise a bit better in the oodles of literature. Finally, an idea for you Monty, you should use your extensive mathematical skills to create a tool that converts people’s actual time splits into what it would have been had the course not been shortened …. I’ll let you work out the variables you need to adjust for!!

  2. Now that I’ve finished and dried out… it was awesome!! I am terrible at descending, particularly after a painful crash on a wet descent off Box Hill, so I was quite happy about taking the hills out. I was a bit cautious about my finish time so I went off later than ideal and spent a lot of time overtaking people who, despite what the commenter above says, were ALL OVER the road – particularly on climbs. I think the slow people should be encouraged to stay on the left actually! I spent a lot of time riding through potholes in the right hand gutter to get past people.
    Was mostly very grateful not to get any punctures, unlike an unfortunate friend who got 4 (3 on the ride, 1 coming home). I stayed with her for the first two, then I’m afraid I was starting to get cold hanging around in the torrential rain so nipped off.
    All in all, a time of 4:47 (4:28 moving) wasn’t terrible but I would like to have gone faster in the first half – second half took 2hrs.
    Spectators were very much appreciated, those in Dorking especially.
    I’m DEFINITELY entering the 2015 ballot.

  3. Fantastic day! Wet, wet and yet more wet. Torrential rain at times and flooded roads galore. Great organisation and probably the right decision to shorten the course. Wonderful to ride through London on closed roads. I did the London marathon in 1983 (the third edition I think) and although the experience was maybe not as intense as then, it was very emotional nearing the end through Parliament Square and down The Mall.

    As a slower rider – expecting the best part of 7 hours for the full route – to finish in 5.28 was great. Passed several crashes: what looked a bad one in Richmond Park and another when a guy went down near Parliament Square when it looked like he hit the railings. I saw a surprising number of riders stopped with punctures – fortunately didn’t experience one myself – The A24 past Box Hill was a hot spot.

    There were examples of inexperienced riders wandering all over the road – both left and right – but more of a potential problem were the faster club riders. Many overtook sensibly with calls of “on your right” or similar but there were too many just slamming through any slight gap whether on the left, on the right or in lots of cases down the middle. I’m not sure forming chain gangs in those conditions with big differences in rider speeds was a great idea.

    Definitely entering the ballot for 2015 by which time I will be 71!

  4. Very wet – perfect for those new summer tyres!
    This was my first time over 50 miles and i was very surprised to still have breath at the end of it – even if i need the wife’s maternity doughnut to sit on for a few days!
    But what a great event – even with the rain stop in Richmond Park and the swimming through Kingston under Thames
    Will be back next year if i can get a place

  5. It was my first Pru100, and it was biblical! Well, the weather was of biblical proportions. I’ve never ridden through so much standing water!
    Yes, there were quite a few accidents. I am a slower rider, but I do know what I am doing. I was really frustrated with the faster riders cutting passed with not even an, “On your right!” as they did it. At one point a “team” of faster riders overtook, even though the marshals had asked everyone to slow due to floods and an accident. Some of these guys were riding like idiots.
    Saying that, I had a blast. I met some terrific people and raised some good money for the MS Society.
    Would I do it again? In a heart beat!

  6. I’d certainly echo all of the comments above. A brilliant day, despite the weather, and superbly organised.
    A shame to miss out on Box Hill and Leith Hill but absolutely the right decision given the conditions….and both those hills will always be there to revisit!
    Newlands Corner was a bit of a tinker and the surprise package hill that awaited us in Wimbledon was overcome because the shame of dismounting and walking in front of those crowds was too much to take!
    Really surprised at the number of people who punctured…I must have passed 50 or more poor souls struggling with eel-like inner tubes in the wet. I guess the torrential rain washed all sorts of stuff into the road. Happily made the call to fit Continental ‘4 seasons’ once I saw the weather forecast.
    Only glitch I had was the lady rider in front of me who decided to come to a complete halt as soon as she crossed the finish line. I wasn’t expecting that and had a spectacular falling off in front of thousands of people…..maybe a bit more marshall control needed at that point because everyone is elated/tired and faffing around with computers to record their times.
    Most faster riders were pretty good and took care to let you know they were coming through – just a couple of others who cut it a bit fine on the narrow sections.
    Would I do it again?…….in a heartbeat!

  7. The decision to shorten the route was understandable, but I thought it was handled rather poorly. There was no email to notify riders, and no announcements were made on the day (either at start or later on the route). We only found out via word-of-mouth from a few people checking their phones in the start pens. Given that the decision was apparently made on Saturday evening, the lack of notification to riders was an uncharacteristically poor show.

    Beyond that, I too had a great time despite the weather. Riding on closed roads was every bit as much fun as advertised, and sprinting along The Mall is something I’ll never forget. The rain was biblical at times but thankfully it stayed warm, and I was very happy with my time. (Hard to know for sure, but I think I would have been 10-15 minutes inside my most optimistic pre-ride target had we done the full distance.) Post-finish is probably where the weather had the biggest impact – last year everyone raved about the carnival atmosphere at the finish, but hanging out in Green Park in the pouring rain understandably didn’t hold the same attraction this time.

    Will I do it again? It’s very tempting, but on balance I think probably not. It’s a fantastic event, but (coming from the Midlands) I ended up spending quite a bit more time travelling to and from London than I did actually riding my bike. I’m still going back and forth, and the closed roads alone almost make it worth the effort, but ultimately I don’t think the route is interesting enough for me to justify the logistical hassles a second time.

    • We got an announcement at the start about the course being shortened, but it did seem hit and miss as to whether the guy on the PA was going to tell you or not. Otherwise, great fun considering. Closed roads are definitely the way forward! My only other comment is that the marshalls could have been more specific with their warnings. A lot were just saying “slow down”, where it would have been more helpful to say why.

    • I thought it odd that the guy with the megaphone at the start wasn’t telling everyone – I was fully appraised while my pals weren’t.
      Equally, there was an email the evening before that made clear the hills could be bypassed; even before that came round, I thought there was a very good chance they’d use the existing diversions to cut out the hills.

      • I saw the ‘could be’ email but if they knew they could have said maybe worried too many people would suddenly drop out with a bad cold and just do 2015 if they told them too early?

        We, Green wave B, were told on the PA at the start line that it had been shortened.

  8. The day started optimistically, then the skies darkened and down came the rain. Could not but be astounded at the number of people without the right clothing. By the time registration opened on Thursday it was obvious that something more than a billowing bin liner was needed. So why folks did not spend money on a rain jacket that will keep them sort of dry, if not comfortable for the day was beyond me. Punctures galore, even on the start line. Fortunately I was lucky, suffered none, having invested in decent tyres that gave me oodles of confidence. Nearly abandoned twice. Richmond Park was dreadful, water was coming both down and up, the first hub was no better, not a dry spot to be found. Had Kingston Stn. been on the main road I might have gladly and without shame, caught a train back to London; was also tempted to join the returnees on the other side of the road.
    Then the rain cleared and it started to be fun. Sensible to close the 2 descents, though I did notice a few riders sneak through.
    I found the last mile to be the hardest and by the time I reached the Mall was happy it was over. When it was, I realised that, actually I’ve enjoyed it.

    • I just want to add a bit more detail from my experience on the clothing front. I admit that there were some people obviously unprepared for the rain. However, I did not wear a rain jacket and can see why others wouldn’t. Firstly, a decent “breathable” rain jacket will set you back well over £100, a significant outlay for someone who doesn’t, or doesn’t intend to do much wet weather riding. Second, whilst a cheaper rain cape will keep some of the rain out, you’re just going to sweat inside that, so you’re body is going to get wet either way!

      The key thing is keeping your body warm. Keeping dry in biblical rain is pretty much impossible. I wore a base layer, a lightweight jersey (dries quicker) and a gilet over the top. The gilet kept some of the initial rain off, but it’s main goal was to stop the wind from chilling my core. I also wore some arm warmers. That combination worked well for me on the day. I was a comfortable temperature and didn’t feel like I was sagging from wearing heavy wet clothing.

      Other than that, well done for completing and not abandoning! Despite the course being cut short, it was a challenge in those conditions!

    • I have spent a not inconsiderable amount of money on a Rapha “rain jacket”. I’m not sure what sort of rain it’s supposed to repel but needless to say I was drenched to the skin pretty quickly! I still needed something on to prevent the shivers, while my more warm-blooded friends were absolutely fine in short sleeves. Know thyself, eh.

      • If you go by what the pros wear, the only choice appears to be a Castelli Gabba. Everyone wears them – those with competing clothing sponsors wear them and black out the Castelli logo. Can’t remember whether it was Milan San remo this year or last where the weather was similarly biblical (although a lot colder) and the entire peloton was clad in black. Needless to say, a Gabba costs one thousand million europounddollars.

        • Monty, the moment Castelli bring out a wimmin’s version that accommodates ladylike shoulders and hips I’ll get one! (Bought my boyfriend one for Christmas, lucky ducky)

  9. I’m a self-confessed fair weather rider so this was new territory for me! Luckily, my legs and the bike held out and I made it all the way round in one piece. I was amazed at the number of riders with punctures (some even in the starting pens) and I saw several nasty accidents (including the one in Richmond Park which meant that most of us were walking for 15-20 minutes if not longer) so I was pleased to make it round.

    The marshalling was fantastic as was the support, even if the crowds were small (who can blame them). I was slightly disappointed with my time (5.15 moving time) but I had spent the week before indulging to excess on my holibobs and I’d never ridden further than 55 miles before.

    Most riders were considerate and did ride sensibly but I do agree with a previous comment that slower riders should be encouraged to move over to the left on the ascents. That’s where I felt most at risk of coming off by trying to get past them – my little legs need to keep spinning otherwise I end up going back down the hill!

    All in all, a great day and a great sense of achievement, in the name of charity too. Bring on the ballot on Monday!

  10. Paul – Devon

    this was my first london100 and it was a charity place. Firstly, without stating the obvious was very wet but I thought in a way it added to the occasion without having a negative effect in terms of the experience of the day.

    secondly, to ride through London past all the iconic landmarks with all those people was awesome.

    As for the actual ride, being in the more senior category I thought my first sector tine was reasonable and although my garmin packed up, I felt on it. That was until we came across the incident in Richmond Park and the ensuing delay that caused. I hope the person involved is not too badly injured and back on a bike soon. However the event did change tempo for a while afterwards. It took a while to for the pack to stretch out enough to be safe again.

    like everyone has said, I noticed a lot of punctures and trued to steer clear of the areas I thought most gravel would accumulate, namely the very edge of carriageway and the kerbs around the many central reservations. Maybe that was the Devon in me, being used to gravelly roads it was survival mode. It worked for me but I did gave a bike pull out on me and the rear spindle came in onto my front spokes, ironically the gravel I rode onto came to my rescue as the front wheel skidded away from the other bike but not before I’d uncleated one foot ready for coming off. I stayed upright but my leg cramped up instead!

    the floods seriously hampered progress and all credit has to go to the marshals for sticking it out, I know some did 16 hours on the trot. A big thanks you those guys.

    I thought the run in from Dorking to finish was fantastic big wide open dual carriageway and the sun started to poke it’s nose through the gloom. However there were several bunches of riders filling up the road riding slow , in haphazard bunches and totally unaware of others

    for me the last 15 was quite painful with cramp, but every time you heard the crowds
    it went!

    The logistics of doing the event made me think beforehand I’d not try it in 2015 but having experience d it, I’ve changed my mind – I’m going for it again.

    thank you to every one – especially marshals and the public.

  11. It certainly was wet, probably by far the worst weather I have ridden in, that said, I absolutely loved it! It was well organised and the people that did stay outside to support the riders are superstars! The decision to remove the hills from the ride was disappointing, although the right one.

    I fortunately had the sense to change my tyres before the ride so did not come off or puncture. One outstanding memory for me was the wall of noise as you entered the finish; I will definitely enter the ballot for next year’s ride.

  12. Well it was certainly interesting.
    As a novice rider I had a mild panic on Saturday when I realised the storm was going to hit. I usually worry about the ascents this time I started worrying about the dangers of getting a puncture on the descent and causing carnage. So I put my Continental 4 seasons back on and packed extra spare tubes. Was carrying 5 overkill.

    When I heard the announcement that the hills were removed I was disappointed but relieved, I didn’t want to be the cause of an accident and Leith is tight even when you are on your own and able to pick your line.

    In the event it was fine. the rain was a pain but I have been out in conditions just as bad so I knew when the weather cleared my shirt would dry in minutes. The volunteers and stewards were excellent and encouraging. I ended up having to try to sprint up Wimbledon hill because the charity girls were egging me on.

    Best bits – riding to the start on my own then gradually joining up with more and more cyclists quietly and without comment becoming part of a much bigger train all with one purpose.

    Will I do it again – definitely cycling on roads i know well without traffic is a great experience.

    What I learnt – Go training in the rain, its fun , Carry 5 inner tubes if it makes you relax, didn’t get 1 puncture

  13. Never ridden in such bad conditions (or carried a space blanket in my saddle bag). Punctures, punctures, punctures. I had one riding the 5 miles to the start. Worried about missing our load time, my ride mates hit my bike like an F1 pitstop crew and I was back in the saddle in 2 minutes!
    Inexperienced and experienced riders were a hazard at times. Very good decision to cut the hills out: the ‘up’ at Newlands was coming to a standstill because of slow riders all over the raod (there simply wasn’t enough room for all of them on the left!). I respect anyone who stays on their bike, up whatever climb. Descents absolutely treachorous.
    Crowds awesome. We (sort of) had to do it but they could have stayed at home, dry and warm. Massive respect. Special mensch 1, an elegant older chap in a wealthy part of Surrey, in hat and coat but no brolly, sitting in his wheelchair, getting as wet as the riders; 2, little boy dressed as the Tour de France devil.
    Highlight of the day. I lost the last of my fellow riders in Leatherhead, so I let loose for the last 28 miles (in the sunnier part of the day). Like the early blogger said: R hand side of all the roads empty. My speed didn’t drop below 20mph (inc Wimbledon Hill) until I stopped at Admiralty Arch (for nearly an hour) to wait for my fellow riders so we could cross the line together.
    Next bit will mean more to Londoners. Fate decreed that I should find myself at the front of the bunch when marshalls stopped riders to allow pedestians across in both Kingston and at the top of Putney Hill. I stayed in a high gear and cranked it away from the bunch when the marshall stood back, swooping down through the mass crowds lining the sides. Free from any traffic or even other riders, I could take a racing line at high speed through streets and corners where you would usually do ~5mph. The crowds reacted in kind to the sight of a lone rider, on the drops, head down, bum (shapely, so I’m told) in the air, giving it his all. A bit like the hopeless lone breakaway in the Tour de France. Everyone knows he’s not going to win it, but the crowd love a try-er! On each ocasion, I rode alone for about 1km before catching up with any other riders. That feeling will stay with me, along with a host of other memories. If anyone reading this is tempted by next year, do it! You don’t have to be super-fit unless you want to set a good time. I’m 55 and was far from being the oldest in my group: we all finished. You’ll find it much easier to get in via a charity place (I raised £600 for a small local charity who can’t match the megabucks of the national charities, who are often touting for riders, and give you a free top to ride in). You know it makes sense!


  14. Great reading all the comments above about the event. This was my first Prudential 100 and overall I thought it was really well organised. I cycled for a small charity called Kith & Kids who support children with learning disabilities and Autism, this at times was pretty much what kept me going when the really bad weather hit!

    The weather was absolutely shocking and being stuck at Richmond Park for 25 mins in the hailstones was easily the low point! It did sound like someone had a pretty bad accident but the ambulance was only 5 mins from the main gates and wondered they didnt move it earlier? Anyway, after that it was really enjoyable! Riding on the right hand side of the road as often as possible and trying not to stack it at every corner! Was great to cycle through parts of London I commute through and smash a few PBs on Strava!

    Obviously a shame the 2 main hills were left out but as everyone has said, understandable given the conditions. Lots of mechanicals and a fair few people coming off, luckily I didnt suffer any of these (take a look at specialized all condition armadillo tyres). There was a funny moment when a lady “cheering” was shouting out “no Box Hill, easy its easy!” over and over again. Well “lady” id like to see you jump on a bike and cycle 86 miles in torrential rain. Some of the cyclists around me gave her back some friendly banter!

    High points – Stewards did an unbelievable job
    Charity supporters were about the only people out on the route
    Closed roads in Central London
    The medal is pretty cool isnt it?
    Raising a decent amount of money for charity
    Smashing PBs and cycling a good 2mph above my normal

    Low Points – Communication could have been better regarding the change of route
    Ambulance at Richmond Park causing 25mins delays in the hailstones
    Rider etiquette should have been better
    Signposting for the bike courier service was shocking
    Belongings were wet from collection at the end

    I am definitely going to enter the ballot for next years Ride 100 and hope for all the hills and better conditions! Overall an amazing experience and special that it is held partly in my home town.

  15. Distinctly Scottish weather which suited me fine – okay I’ll admit it WAS a bit wet and riding at points through 12″ of standing water with more gushing out of nearby drain covers was a novel experience even for me, but it wasn’t cold and you only get wet on the outside so it was fine and I sang or whistled most of the way round.

    My time was horrendous and I don’t care at all because I took a young lady who was nervous round the whole ride and we both picked up a firend we made at the start from the roadside about 70 miles in and pulled him home with us. I might not have set any personal records (next year I can do that), but I made some good friends and that’s what I’ll take away from the ride.
    Spectators, marshals and volunteers were magnificent – each and every one deserved the medals given out to us as riders – respect is due to all.
    Terrible to hear about the rider who died at Newlands corner, easy to say its one of those things but doesn’t make it any better and thoughts go to his family, firends and co-riders.

  16. I struggled to sleep the night before due to a combination of excitement, nerves, and worry that my alarm would not do its job. However, come 5:00 am, I sprang out of bed, into my bibshorts and downstairs to the kitchen. I ate a small slice of carrot cake, had an espresso and made my porridge. I got a taxi from my house to Whitechapel and wolfed down the porridge on the way. After making my way to the start point, I just did a once over check to make sure everything was in order. BUGGER. Left my saddle bag on the kitchen table. Had to make a quick stop at the Mavic stand to pick up a few tubes, and then I was ready. It wasn’t until the start line that I found out the hills had been cut. Slightly disappointing, but I respected the decision, and having ridden those hills several times already, I wasn’t as gutted as some around me who’d traveled for a long way to do the whole route.

    The ride itself was fantastic. Despite the rain, and lack of crowds, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. In fact I’d go as far as saying cycling in that rain was quite good fun! But that was mainly because I was a comfortable temperature. Top tip – I wrapped my toes in cling film and it kept them pretty toasty for most of the way round! I did the ride alone, but managed to find plenty of people to talk to. I spent a good 40 miles chatting to one guy in particular. Makes the whole thing go a lot quicker. I was surprised at how quick the thing was too. This was my first major sportive, and I averaged 19.4mph, and took 4hr30 to complete it, which I was pretty chuffed with. Even beat several PBs on some of the familiar roads.

    Will definitely be signing up to do next year’s event!

  17. My belongings were wet on collection, thanks to the previous scribe for reminding me to mention.
    How about doing a Survey of the field to ask why do many punctures. I counted more than a dozen before the start
    All been said before: Richmond park delay (hope the person is ok) rain, loss of hills etc but for me the flood water where you could not avoid it was the biggest worry.
    Final 20 odd miles dried out (temporarily) and made some time up but bit was that fun flying back into London, and Westminster & the Mall were simply something else! Brilliant!
    2015 yes please
    Raised £2k for cancer research plus other 600 for local charities
    Good day!

    • Punctures doesn’t surprise me. It probably seems like there was so many, but remember there were 25,000 cyclists all in one place. I imagine the percentages were still fairly small. Moreover, unsurprising in the wet, as debris gets washed into the road, and the water acts like a lubricant for anything going through your tire!

      Out of interest, what time was the Richmond crash approx? and was it on the downhill section with the speedbumps? I saw a guy stack it down there, but was largely his fault. He was going way too fast, tried to cut up on the inside without saying anything, had to slam on his brakes, back wheel stepped out and he slid down. Didn’t go over the handlebars, he just slid out. Didn’t look too bad. But it highlighted how careful you have to be in those situations. Doesn’t matter how good you are, not everyone else has got lots of experience riding in a group!

      • I think it was around 9.15am at Richmond Park when the big delay happened. Pretty sure that could have been handed better as it took 25 mins standing around to get through. You are right, some of the cycling moves were crazy especially in the conditions. I did expect that though with such a large group ride and just had to be extra vigilant!

        • Even in good weather conditions last year, with fewer riders and no accidents, the first stretch of Richmond park (up to the Richmond gates) was packed solid with cyclists. Having spent 15-20 minutes waiting in a random country lane south of Croydon after an accident on the London 2 Brighton, I can empathise – particularly for those that weren’t sure about timings and cut offs…

          • Ah ok, I think it just felt worse because of the weather! As a few people have mentioned, been great following your blogs and accessing the website for information not only on the Ride 100 but advice on pretty much everything! So thank you and look forward to future blogs 🙂

    • So many punctures near the beginning suggests there were a fair few that were due to inner tube pinching. Not really surprising if people quickly changed tyres the night before the event to suit the weather.
      One of the reasons I don’t change inner tubes or tyres before a big ride and go with long-life multi-purpose tyes (conti 4 seasons).

      • Agree with the pinching theory for all the punctures at the start after late changing of tyres. I upgraded my tyres two weeks ago to conti 4000s II’s before the bad weather was forecast, and promptly had a puncture from pinching 5 minutes into a training ride when I hit a pothole. Having fixed it myself (not very well!) I then got my mate in my LBS to put them on properly and luckily got no punctures on Sunday.

  18. As many have commented, it was a really enjoyable day – in a slightly masochistic sense – despite the conditions. The fact it was relatively warm was a huge blessing. wet and warm is ok, wet and cold is hell…

    big pluses were the closed roads, amazing support from food station helpers, stewards and spectators, and the sprint up the Mall. I will never forget that feeling…

    The closed roads were a dream to ride on, and I kept having to remind myself that I could go through the red lights! I found there was one small problem with closed roads though – the cat’s eyes. I spent a lot of time in the middle of the road (to avoid the fastest and the slowest) and had a scary moment when I hit one at an angle on a corner, so was careful to avoid them after that. It was interesting that the ex pro who finished first – Ian Rees – said he nearly came off after hitting one.

    The other annoyance was totally down to my own incompetence – the obligatory wardrobe malfunction. Having put a base layer under my short sleeved jersey, I stopped just after the start to put my waterproof on, only to find myself overheating a few miles later so had to strip off by Tower Bridge to take the base layer off. I them stupidly took my jacket off a few miles later as the rain held off, only to put it on again pretty soon when we hit the bad weather around Hammersmith. The lesson I learnt was when you know its going to rain, don’t faff around changing clothes – make the decision to wear a jacket or not and get on with it. Not that the jacket made a huge difference in the end…

    Though it was disappointing not to do LH and BH, I think 2014 will go down as a vintage year for Ride London. It was a freak storm, and an amazing experience to ride in those conditions, the likes of which I doubt will coincide with the event ever again. It was a unique year that won’t be forgotten and people will be probably be saying on 20 years time – “oh yeah I remember RL 2014 – the year of hurricane bertha” good memories…

  19. It was my first RideLondon and in fact my first sportive and ride of this distance. Rode on behalf of Great Ormond Street Hospital.
    The weather reports had made me a fairly nervous wreck from about Thursday onwards. Thankfully I was given plenty of good advice (Thanks Monty). Went out and got some leg and arm warmers in anticipation of the inclement weather.
    I was in the later 8.15 start. Surprised as I got chatting to others in the holding area to find out the Hills had been removed as I had checked twitter when I woke at 4am. Mixed feelings but definitely more disappointment than relief, however as the ride went on I had nothing but complete agreement for the decision, which I’m sure was not taken lightly.
    Impressed by how flat and quick the going was to begin with. I was one of the riders to get held in Richmond Park. Just as we came to a stop the heavens opened and down came the torrential rain. Soaked everything nicely including my feet, so commence crazy jelly baby eating to stop my spirits from dampening too much. after 20-30 minutes when we eventually got going again the roads were heavily flooded but this didn’t cause huge problems other than the necessity to go cautiously.
    No punctures for me either thankfully. Newlands corner was harder than I expected but wasn’t helped by the slower riders not sticking to the left which was a recurring theme. However deep puddles and flooded roads didn’t always allow for this.
    With about 30 miles to go the sun did come out and the roads started to dry. A thoroughly enjoyable experience on closed roads, The support from members of the public and cheers from spectators certainly helped, especially round Kingston where you start to feel a little bit like a pro (or at least in my head anyway). Wimbledon Hill took me by surprise and was heavy going but I got through it in the end and finished in a not disappointing time of 5hrs 54mins. Oddly Strava said it was 88miles.
    Overall a fantastic day, didn’t stop smiling throughout. The Hills being removed and the fact it wasn’t quite 100 miles leaves a sense of unfinished business, so I will definitely be applying for next year. But the weather was so horrible it did offer its own sense of challenge and achievement.

  20. This was my first ever sportive (just signed up for another one next month!) and I absolutely loved the experience – all thoughts of ‘I want to do this time’ went out of the window as the weather reports came in. Anyway, here’s my two penneth on the day…

    – Yes, it was disappointing that the route was cut, but I think it was the right decision – there were (including me) a lot of inexperienced riders out there – I found myself overtaking people on any ascents such as Newlands, but then being reovertaken on the descents – need some more practice on those! I’d also say that some of the more experienced riders (judging from club jerseys) didn’t help matters, squeezing through tiny gaps in apocalyptic weather just so they could stay with their ‘gang’. However, that said, the vast majority of riders were very sensible I thought.

    – Perhaps the decision to cut the route could have been taken earlier – I don’t know – certainly the forecast was pretty obvious for a day or so beforehand. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the Race Director’s shoes making that decision…

    – Riding on closed roads through central London and then out into Surrey is utterly, utterly magical.

    – Riding through road tunnels is chuffing warm.

    – All the support was amazing – I’m sure some of them were more soaked than us riders.

    – Marshalling was great, especially around hazards.

    – Yes the delay in the hail in Richmond Park was unfortunate, but what were they meant to do?!? Drive the ambulance across the undergrowth?

    – Wow – I’ve never seen so many punctures – I must have passed hundreds. Selfishly, I’m so relieved I didn’t suffer one – I’d only packed one spare tube, so a big thumbs up for my Conti Gatorskins 🙂

    – To all the folk I’ve seen on Facebook, etc moaning they didn’t get a place in the ballot, why the hell didn’t you get off your arse and get a charity place – there was any number of charities with plenty of places – I rode with Scope and they were amazing – £50 fee and raise a minimum of £500 – not hard if you really want to do it. They were also brilliant in sending out tshirts, banners, balloons when I was doing fundraising. And at the moment I think they’re doing £20 places for next year – no excuses, if you’d really wanted to ride, you could have done!!!

    – Someone upstairs has a wicked streak when it comes to cyclists – 60-odd miles of rain, last 20 miles to dry out, collect medal and kit bag and then BANG – another biblical downpour – I just laughed 🙂

    – Lastly, all my thoughts go to Kris Cook – rest in peace. Hopefully he’s looking down and supremely proud that he’s slightly beaten his £500 fundraising target – over £31,000 at the moment – https://www.justgiving.com/Kris-Cook/

    – See you all next year & thanks to the Grimpeur for his posts over the year! 🙂

    • John, As I wrote above, your experience and seemingly timings (judging by the downpour after finishing) are also pretty much identical to mine.
      I was surprised at how many people I managed to pass going up Newlands Corner, But my descents really were bad. I am just not confident and I suppose this is where my inexperience shows. Still, they weren’t helped by the winds and I had one or two wobbles.

      It’s disappointing that more people cannot be successful in the ballot. Charity places are fantastic but the commitment should not be underestimated as I found out. I struggled and found out that not as many people you think are willing to donate. I guess there are a lot of people trying to do some good these days and maybe some become a little immune to it all.

      Also sending my condolences to the Family and Friends of Kris Cook. Very Sad.

  21. First of all can I say that your blog post about what to expect on the Ride London 100 really helped. I’ve been riding my bike for years but a combination of over active work and social life meant that my training rides in the last month were literally no more than a few 12 mile rides before it got dark in London.

    In short I was absolutely shitting myself about not being able to do it.

    But i’ve got to say, the combination of the amazing crowds (who let’s face it put up with the same conditions we did…and got no medal!), brilliant feel of the closed roads, and the great camaraderie that the crappy weather seemed to galvanise in people made it a totally brilliant, utterly do-able ride. I actually felt like I could do another 30 on top, the buzz was so big. If you are reading this thinking “hmmm should i apply for the 2015 ballot?” JUST DO IT!

    It’s always a shame to cut a course short but it was the right decision, even the relatively small descents that remained in the course were sketchy in that weather.

    Small gripes would be the amount of punctures- I’ve never, ever seen so many people flat in the first 15 miles. Something more sinister? I couldn’t see a reason for it.

    Finally, whilst i’m full of admiration at the fast riders and club riders, please learn how to give notice that you are going to overtake or cut someone up. I saw too many people touch wheels. Come on y’all. Anyway, i’d have to give it 10/10.

    It would be really cool if this race moved every year so we could have the ride Manchester etc, I really felt for all the people who were affected by London’s archaic transport system and stupid rules.

  22. I’ve donated something directly to Woking Hospice. Somehow fitting that he was raising money for the people of Surrey, as they put up with all the road closures and came out to support us.

  23. Friday morning I woke up to find my beloved bicycle has been stolen – after months of training and really, REALLY, looking forward to smashing the 100 and dominating the hills I was staring failure and misery right in the face before I’d even clipped in on Olympic soil. I loved my bike (his name was Bastian) and I am sure that many of you can know how attached you get to your machines. I was pretty deflated.

    Then the weather predictions tried to ruin the fun too. Really considered pulling out.


    Crowds were excellent, despite the weather. I strongly believe the rain enhanced the sense of achievement and made the feeling of a shared experience much deeper.

    Despite the mega-organisation going on at the start line, it was still surprisingly easy to hook up with an old friend of mine within 50 metres. Two punctures for him in the first 10 miles was a bit of a downer (“why the hell am I doing this?!”), and put us down to one inner tube between us for the next 70 miles.

    Then, after finally getting some miles under us, me and my friend looked at each other, with the rain streaking across our faces and then burst into manic laughter. We bolted, and really began to fly along the course, booming up the hills and chatting to other like-minded riders along the way. I was so impressed by how high-spirited everyone was!

    I actually quite enjoyed the madness of it all – if it had been a grey, monotonous, cold drizzle then I think it would have got to me – the ferocity of the rain was quite a spectacle. Exciting. Though the last 6 miles (after I had seen my partner, sister and some friends whizz by, yelling all sorts and waving flags at the side of the road) were very, very long. Cycling amongst the landmarks after all that was very emotional indeed, and I managed to do a 30mph sprint over the finish!


    When I got my own bike under me again, Leith Hill is dead.

    P.S Great blog Andrew! – I’ve found your more-the-merrier, approachable style to cycling and writing really really refreshing, in what can sometime be a very snobby sport! Keep it up!

  24. Wow!
    First ever sportive at 58 (well apart from a short MTB ride in the New Forest). A charity ride for Asthma UK after missing out on the ballot, encouraged by my son who got a ballot place but who also rode for the charity (and has Asthma). 8:12 start, rain starting while waiting for the off. Very cautious on the wet roads, but gradually getting in to it. Plan to meet up with son Rob (started 17 minutes earlier) went to rats as he wisely decided not to get even colder waiting for me.
    Despite a very effective Sportful jacket – absolute bargain at £30 when reduced in Halfords – I still got cold due to the delay in Richmond Park – I estimate 17 minutes from my GPS. Low point was just after seeing earlier riders on their way back to London when we shared the same section of road and the rain was still hissing down.
    High point (no pun intended) for me was riding up to Newlands Corner – not being the best climber in the world passing others who were slower or walking was a big boost – and at the top the rain had stopped and there was a great view as I topped up water bottles and ate a banana.
    I think the decision to shorten the route was spot on – the descent from Newlands with very wet roads and buffeting cross winds was hairy – I dread to think what Hollow Lane would have been like.
    From there on really enjoyed it – sun out, more and more people cheering (brilliant) and speed picking up. Bands playing in the towns, crowds outside the pubs, kids waving banners and flags. One more stop for water and to remove the jacket before Wimbledon – great cheers from the Asthma UK guys half way up the climb.
    It all seemed to go so quickly from there, legs good, finish seemed to come too soon! Even picked out my wife shouting me on as I rode on to the Mall! 5h 48m 14s – which I was happy with. Over £1200 raised for the charity.
    Of course the skies decided that I was too dry and that I needed another drenching as soon as I had collected my kit bag….
    Many thanks Andrew for the blog which provided real insight as to what I could expect and helped to reduce the nerves – I even managed to get some sleep the night before. However my wife wishes to complain as after reading your piece about the bike fit I did the same and ended up with another bike – a Trek Domane 4.5 which I rode on the day. Great! I got the brakes upgraded to Ultegras – best non disc brakes I have ever had.
    Rob rode my old Boardman Team Carbon – another very good bike but I had really bought a size too big for me (Rob is 3 inches taller). He said hello to Chris Boardman in Green Park and Chris congratulated him on his choice of bike! Only one puncture between us – on the rear of Rob’s bike a mile before we got to the start. Both of us were using original fit tyres – Conti Ultrasport 23mm on the Boardman and Bontrager R2 Hard-Case Lite, 25mm on the Trek.
    Would really love to have another go but sadly next year is a non starter due to a different sporting commitment. Also I think it would have to be a ballot place to avoid sponsor fatigue.

    Shocked to hear about the tragic death of Kris Cook – which rather took the edge off my Newlands Corner pleasure. My condolences to his family and friends, and I hope that the amount he has now raised for his charity will be some small comfort in their loss. RIP

  25. Started well at 08:12 and then… my rear tyre blew just as I entered Richmond Park. And just as the worst of the monsoons hit. I stood under a tree for what felt like ages trying to get my tyre off, and when I did it turned out my first gas canister was faulty. The second one worked, but because by this point my hands were numb and I was shivering badly, I’d misaligned the inner tube and it exploded when I applied the gas. After several minutes of deafness I got out my minipump and discovered … it didn’t work. I was 4 – 5 miles from mechanical help and had no way of fixing my puncture.

    I started walking and after 10 minutes was picked up by one of the recovery vans – most of the ride had gone past me by this point. Somebody in the van told me I looked borderline hypothermic. Over the 45 minutes it took them to crawl behind the ride (floods, crashes, etc) I warmed up, and they dropped me at Hampton Court. (Strava thinks I am KoM in Richmond Park. I should probably tell them I was in a van at the time.) I lost 2 hours overall.

    By the time my wheel was fixed there was literally nobody left behind us other than the people getting their punctures fixed by Mavic, so the next half an hour was me on my own charging through the Surrey roads – bliss, Then I caught up and spent the rest of the ride passing people and trying very hard not to be a dick about it. (I cycle fast. Sorry. It’s the years of commuting across London. It numbs you.)

    But, I think that let me see the best of the ride. Had I stayed with the people I set off with it would have been all fast-ish passive aggresive riders (like me). Instead, I kept company with the irregular cyclists, the Bromptons (he had a big smile, he knew what he was doing), the once-a-year-cyclists. That open field and camaraderie was one of the best things about the experience. Apart from when they all walked up Newlands Corner and got in my way.

    Overall a brilliant experience – especially the people cheering us. Even when I was literally at the back of the pack on my own there were people in raincoats with cups of tea who were cheering me and must have been standing there for hours. And the riding on empty roads was great as well. Couldn’t work out why more people weren’t riding on the right hand side – ingrained behaviour I guess.

    I’ll be first in line for the next ballot, and I’ll get seriously unhappy if I don’t get in.

    • I have a love hate relationship with CO2 canisters, having been let down badly by them. Excuse the pun. They somehow never quite work when you need them to. However at Excel I noticed some on offer, they came with a long tube allowing you to secure the valve first, and, having scrutinised them, decided it would be tempting fate not to buy. So I did. Happily they stayed in the saddle back along with too much food, as I was one of the lucky ones with no punctures. But I would always take along a hand pump….just in case

  26. Weather – it’s all been said …. but those conditions also create the great spirit that existed on Sunday with all the ‘black humour’ that comes with it. Standing with thousands of cyclists in Richmond Park with stair rods coming down, you could often make out the charity logos under the rain jackets – then someone spotted ‘Water Aid’ on someone’s back!!!
    The banter and the jokes kept me warm and motivated on the early stages of the ride until I caught up with my cycling bud. One last comment – I cycle in Cornwall so I am used to climbs and I didn’t think Newlands was such a big deal (not big headed!) so was surprised at the number of people who were walking up from the start of the climb – how would they have coped with Box Hill and Leith?

  27. The worst part for me was after the finish. I’d dried out by then, got my medal and the world was a wonderful place. Took my phone out of the handlebar mount for the ubiquitous selfie in front of the Victoria Memorial & Buck House when the heavens opened again. This time it was horizontal with drops bigger that 5p pieces. Absolutely saturated again. Really p****d off!
    One suggestion – for those of us who will be entering the ballot for next year, especially the charity riders, perhaps we should be guaranteed a place so that we can complete the course. Come on organisers, give us a break!!!!!

  28. I entered the event because my husband, a seasoned cyclist decided to.I didn’t want to miss out. I couldn’t resist what I imagined would be an incredible experience. It was! I was very anxious beforehand, as a relative novice I had trained on my own, up to 63 miles but I’d found it very hard. I think the mental challenge was the worst aspect. Each week as Sunday and the ‘long’ ride loomed I began to dread it. I didn’t like the solitude and in retrospect I should have joined a club but then again, I wasn’t confident about my speed.

    I was slightly relieved that the hills had been taken out but now I’m struggling to convince myself that the awful conditions were an equal replacement. I was very slow and as was the same for many of us , I was forced to dismount and wait on several occasions because of all the incidents and accidents and I did also have a puncture, which luckily for me was about 200 yards from the mechanics ‘station’.

    I think the organisation was amazing,and the closed roads are the big bonus. I rode mostly alone because the conditions forced people apart so many times. I don’t remember all the landmarks because either I couldn’t see them in the rain or I was concentrating so hard on the road. I really appreciated the spectators who did brave it, they helped so much and made me smile.

    I had intended this would be a once in a lifetime cycle, am I starting to weaken already? I’m proud of myself but we didn’t do 100 miles or the hills!

  29. Think everyone has covered it! Like a lot it was a) my first sportive and b) my longest ever ride. Removing the hills was the correct decision. I had a 7.17 start so luckily missed the Richmond Park hold up. Didn’t notice a mile marker until 17 and was pleasantly surprised, had been looking out for 10. You really notice the difference with other riders and the rhythm of not having to stop/slow down. 5 hrs 19 for the record. Thanks for this blog, it was a great help.

  30. For what it’s worth… I thought it was an amazing day. My first sportive and I learned an awful lot about myself and others from the epic sodden adventure. Next time a wickable base layer will do – I seemed wetter inside my waterproof than out. A 7:42 start and we off we went, delighted at the speed even without being behind anybody the size of Martin Johnson !

    Punctures everywhere!! I panicked the day before – as I have a weak left hand and was worried I couldn’t change a tyre – and got Sigma Sport to fit new Continental Tyres – same tread as 4 Seasons but those were sold out! I mentioned to the fitter in the shop that as it was so wet maybe I shouldn’t inflate them so much as per the e-mail suggestion from the organisers. His reply was: “well, we could do that for you if you don’t mind getting some punctures, they’ll pinch!” So, regular pressure , great grip and no punctures… maybe coincidence, maybe not.

    I missed the shortened course e-mail and our wave wasn’t told but it was pretty well known anyway wasn’t it!? The descent from Leith Hill is risky in the dry – it would have been a nightmare, only course of action. Had only a short delay in Richmond Park and no argument from me. That part of the park can’t be driven to without going on the road and with the fencing it was not easy to get to.
    Inexperience seemed to be the cause of slower riders getting in the way or not being aware of riders around them, not sure what excuse the “Lycra Warriors” have, some seemed to be shouting at each other in animated conversations as they tried to maintain a high tempo as if there were no other riders on the road! On the whole though common sense prevailed, mostly, BUT, did anybody see the guy on one of the narrow lanes with his bike propped up against the grass bank while he sat in the road pumping up the tyre! How was he not run over!?!

    Anyway – I loved Putney Hill, flew down there and into town was great until my leg seized in the final mile, luckily I had another one. I did this for my Mum, raised the money for Alzheimers and crossing the line was emotional I don’t mind saying, knowing she wouldn’t be there amongst the waiting crowds.

    On a sombre note – if you can spare any cash – drop a tenner or whatever to Kris Cook, a tragic story but a great cause and on the day – he was simply one of us…. https://www.justgiving.com/Kris-Cook/

    Cheer up.. Thought the organisation was brilliant, the kit bag delivery excellent (just use another bag inside the bag and nothing will get wet next time team! )

    And lets hear it for Chamois Cream – bloody amazing – layer it on in handfuls and saddle discomfort gone!!!

    I’m looking forward to the hills and the full 100 next time, roll on 2015!

  31. I’ve already left my feedback and feelings about the day of the ride itself so I thought I’d have a go at following Monty’s suggestion to write a note to my pre-London ride former self.
    Firstly……don’t worry! You’ll be absolutely fine on the day and the restless nights before the ride aren’t worth it.
    The organisation on the day is brilliant and the concerns you have about finding your way to the start and getting under way are without foundation.
    Riding on closed roads is awesome and something you will savour.
    The atmosphere on the day is friendly and there are loads of people for whom the Ride London event is their first Sportive and/or century ride.
    Eat, Eat, Eat……especially in the first 50 miles.
    There are plenty of loos..everywhere…with no queues so that’s one less thing to think about.
    Cycling etiquette on the day is generally good…..99% of other riders are considerate. Just keep your wits about you for the other 1%.
    The training programmes put out by the organisers are spot on so choose one and stick to it.

    ……..and finally……….read the excellent Monty’s blog! It’s all good, sensible stuff from a man that’s been there.


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