The RideLondon 100 (and its new 46 sibling) is an unusual sportive. Due to its size and location, it presents logistical challenges for riders and organisers alike. On the participant side, it’s not just a case of rocking up with a car boot (trunk) full of kit and a few gels in your pocket and knocking out a cheeky century.
It’s therefore entirely reasonable that first-time participants have questions, not all of which are answered in the organiser’s bumf.
Here are some questions sent in by reader, Ian, which I will attempt to answer. Can I also ask the Sportive Cyclist hive mind (particularly those of you that have RiddenLondon already), to chime in with your views. Every little helps….
So, those questions….
Should I Wear A Cycling Jersey Or A T-Shirt On RideLondon?
JST [Jubilee Sailing Trust – Ian’s charity] said they will be sending me a T-shirt to wear on the day. I suspect it will be a cotton T-shirt & will be checking this out with them. This is not exactly the best thing to wear in terms of cycle clothing. Did Macmillan provide you with a designated cycling jersey or a T-shirt? And did other riders face the same predicament?
Ian probably knows the answer to this one (he sent the email some time ago…) but it feels unlikely that charities will issue you with a bog-standard t-shirt and expect you to use it on the ride itself. They’ll know (or they should know) that you’ll need jersey pockets to store your on-ride kit (plus cotton t-shirt material is not ideal for ‘wicking away’ sweat) . So you’ll need to wear a cycling jersey.
Macmillan did provide me with a cycling jersey, a fine green and white affair which I sometimes still wear.
I hypothesise that branded charity jerseys tend to help the rider rather than the charity in multi-charity events like this one. When there are (I don’t know) 50+ charities represented on the road, seeing another rider in a charity jersey is not going to help brand recognition with spectators.
On the other hand, there were many times, particularly as I rode back through south west London (so, 80+ miles in), that I heard a, “Come on Macmillan!”, which I knew was directed at me. It does wonders for the spirit, and definitely helped get me through those difficult ten miles between the 80- and 90-mile marks :-).
Not the question being asked, but if I were to do it again (and I’d like to), then I’d wear the charity jersey if there was one, even if it isn’t as ‘performance’ as other cycling jerseys I might own.
What Should I Wear Before The Start Of RideLondon?
Did you wear a long sleeve jersey or a rain jacket to the start? It seems there is a bit of waiting time in starting & getting to the venue and it is not always warm first thing in the morning. I have a few long sleeve jerseys but these will be too warm once I am a few miles into the ride. What’s your solution for transporting/carrying a spare top if you need to remove it? Perhaps get a pair of arm warmers but this would only be a last resort?
For my money, at the end of July/start of August in south-east London, the coldest time on the day will be if it is raining and you’re riding down the other sides of Leith Hill and Box Hill (the combination of wind chill on wet skin, whilst you’re not really pedalling). For that, you’d want to be wearing a simple rain jacket.
The day before my RideLondon ride, I bought exactly that when I went to pick up my numbers from the Excel centre (there is a little ‘Expo’ where you can buy cycle gear): the very cheapest (non-breathable) rain jacket that Castelli sell. Given that it’s little more than a glorified plastic bag with arms and a zip, it rolls up and is easily stored in one of my jersey pockets.
If it was me, waiting around before my start wave assembled for the off, and it was a little chilly, I’d put on this rain jacket. It’s highly unlikely that the ambient temperature will be low – more that the wind is a touch chilly. The advantage of a cheap, non-breathable rain jacket is that is more than capable of warding off a little wind. Then you don’t need to worry about a long-sleeved jersey or arm warmers.
What Should I Use My Bag Drop Bag For?
I have heard that you get a drop bag to store your belongings which you collect after you finish. What did you store in yours – a change of clothing? And can you drop your long sleeve jersey off in it or is the time gap between dropping it off & the start too long?
I didn’t use the bag drop service, so can’t answer with direct experience. I went with the strategy of carrying everything with me.
That said, I remember seeing the lorries both at the start (where you leave your bag) and at the end (where you… pick it up), and it all looked rather straightforward and well-organised.
If the weather forecast on the day looks poor, I’d certainly consider putting in a bag with a change of clothes for the finish.
Any other views people?
Will I Be Quick Enough To Avoid Being Swept Up By The Broom Wagon?
Going by my ride yesterday (7 hours 15 mins including 2 rest stops at feed stations, 6 hours 30 mins moving time on strava) I am slightly concerned I may get swept up by the broom wagon or have to take a course shortening detour. But I am probably worrying unnecessarily as I rode solo most of yesterday being one of the last starters. Do you know what the cut off & time limits are for Ride 100?
I don’t recall the specific cut-offs (they’ll be in the magazine they send you). But I would urge you not to worry too much about this point.
You’ll be surprised (pleasantly) how fast the RideLondon course is when there are no cars, no pedestrians, no need to stop at junctions. Then you have the drafting effect of all the cyclists around you.
I’ve had quite a lot of people voice this concern over the years, but I don’t think I’ve heard from anyone that has been swept up by the broomwagon, or even been close.
So focus on enjoying the day (which is fantastic) than worrying about missing the cutoffs.
Should I Use A Bum Bag On RideLondon?
Did you carry a bum bag with additional food/gels? Reading your account of the ride it seems a lot of time is wasted standing in queues at the feed stations & there is little choice & not much is left by the time you reach them. Is that still true or have they improved in this respect? I have done 3 sportives organised by Evans cycles and the feed stations are pretty good & are constantly replenished & you have instant access to food & drink & can help yourself without waiting. I have no complaints with their feed stations but imagine that it is entirely different on Ride 100 – would that be correct or can I expect a similar supply of food & drink?
How many stops did you make & how long did you spend at each stop?
Maybe more recent participants can comment on this as well.
There was certainly sufficient food at the feed stations. There were some odd choices (the crisps) but there were plenty of gels, bananas, biscuits and energy drinks.
I recall stopping at two feed stations (Hampton Court and Newlands Corner). With hindsight, perhaps I overegged how long these took. They didn’t eat into my ride too much and I was happy to have a little time off the bike. Whilst the Newlands one was a bit cramped (so you had to filter round slowly), there was plenty of room at Hampton Court to access the tables with the food on.
I didn’t take a bum bag (fanny pack, los Americanos). I’m pleased to report that I don’t own a bum bag.
From memory, I think I would have had the following in my jersey pockets: some gels (maybe two); a large bag of jelly babies (the food for sports performance) that I transferred into a large sandwich bag for easy access; the aforementioned light rain jacket; my (Lezyne) mini-pump; my mobile phone.
In my saddle bag (which I’d recommend getting if you don’t have one – here’s my guide) I would have had some money and a credit card, my multi-tool, some plastic tyre levers and a spare inner tube.
Where Are These Post-RideLondon Showers I’ve Heard About?
Apparently there are after parties to be attended after a shower and some food. Is this true and are showers actually provided? I would imagine most riders would want to get home not too long after the ride.
Good question. Macmillan didn’t provide me with a shower or a massage. My pal Wes (who may well be reading this) rode for the Anthony Nolan Trust (I think) and I’m sure he came away from the day with the warm glow of having spent 30 minutes, post-ride, with a communist-era masseur.
I was quite happy to start making my way home (or rather to my friend’s home). I had the feeling that once I’d had a shower, I would only be capable of walking 5 yards to bed, rather than cycling 5 miles…
Do I Need Bike Lights And A Lock On RideLondon?
Did you bother with bike lights? And would you take a bike padlock & leave it in your drop bag so you can lock your bike later, or did you return home soon afterwards?
No, I had neither.
I certainly wouldn’t be carrying a lock around with me. Maybe it’s something you could put in the bag drop bag, if you knew you were locking the bike up afterwards. I wandered about a bit with my bike in Hyde Park (and also lay down on the grass next to it…) and then started to make my way home, so had no need to lock it up.
As far as lights go, if it looks like the weather might be rainy and/or murky, and your lights aren’t too heavy and bulky, why not? That said, there are no cars on the course itself, and all the riders are going in the same direction and generally aware that there are other bikes around them. So probably more relevant if you’ll be sharing the road with other vehicles once you’ve finished RideLondon itself.
That’s your lot. Hopefully that’s been helpful.
If anyone has any advice for Ian or for other first-time RideLondoners, then please do add your voice in the comments section below.
Good luck to all those taking part in RideLondon this year. I wish I could join you. Next time (Gadget…).