In its third year Ride London is quickly becoming a must do event. Last year was wet, very wet by all accounts. This year was not... It was brilliant.
Buck Pal. Home of the selfie stick.
My day started very early indeed and ignoring all travel advice I drove to the Green Man roundabout and parked anywhere I could. This ended in a very dark road near an allotment and led me to have to ride over the said roundabout and through some unfamiliar parts of East London before finding other such lost souls in the pitch dark as we all neared the Olympic Park. Note to self, look more closely at the travel advice and take a light or two if you're going to insist on being so stubborn.
With the start located all that was left to do was wait. Numbers began to soon swell. It seemed that every pair of deep sections ever bought in the South East were within the immediate 50 yards and that most of them were in front of me. I must admit at this point that although I was raising money for charity (Cardiomyopathy UK) I was absolutely more concerned with riding as fast as I could for the next few hours on closed roads which, of course, is something that you don't get to do every day. A few friendly faces, most notably Paul, who is off to represent GB masters at the Worlds in Denmark soon, passed and time was quickly upon us.
With my own selfish goal in mind I was hoping to get from my wave (Blue D) and hop on with a few like minded souls, so once the buzzer went and we were waved off by a very nice and highly decorated rugby international whose name escapes me at the time of writing I was left looking for that particular train. It took a while, but like the fabled London buses...
For the time being however I was alone, ahead of my group and a little confused at 6:30am, on a closed section of the A12 I began to wonder if I was going to have to ride this one on my own. A few souls were at the side of the road but the truth be told the first mile or so was a lonely and confusing affair. But soon enough a group were closing in on me and that was that. I got on with them and it was basically heads down from there.
My girlfriend asked me where we went. I honestly couldn't tell her. Apart from Richmond Park, which I assume was Richmond Park only because it sounds right, I couldn't tell her anything about the first part of the ride. I remember dodging road furniture, doing some turns and holding a wheel through traffic but apart from thos things it wasn't a sightseeing trip. The group I was with completed the first 50 miles in 2:02 which included the climb up to Newlands Corner. I was pretty sure that there was little to no chance of me staying with that pace especially when it came to getting up Leith.
I guess this must be Richmond Park??
Your scribes penchant for mountain biking means that he knows the Surrey Hills well. I reckon I could draw a pretty accurate map of these parts and I therefore know that Leith Hill is the one to be concerned about. Box Hill is a doddle really, especially up the zig zags, (of course its not a doddle if you sprint up it, but it wont bite you if you don't let it) but Leith is steep in parts. I know this because it is littered with many fun trails that should be ridden with suspension.
And so it was to be. My new friends were not friends at all and did not wait for me even for the thirty seconds I lost and despite trying for a bit I couldn't regain my previous position, they were gone. I was probably punching a little above my weight as it was anyway!
But by now I was not alone and so the next section of the ride (although from here on in I am going to refer to it as a race because at no point did it ever resemble a 'ride' despite the announcers efforts to mask it as a ride at the start) was spent doing turns with some new riders and assembling little groups here and there. Box Hill was pleasant and provided my only brief stop of the day and a top up of my bottle. I was pretty sure that it was basically downhill from here. And it was, essentially.
Once again groups formed and there was a bit of muscling but the group grew bigger as we closed in on London, picking up a few strays and building momentum as we found some scenery that even I recognized! Embankment was followed by the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben and before too long it was into The Mall to a finish that was tough to prevent the spine from chilling a little.
Coming round The Houses of Parliament
And so it was. What an event. I am sure people enjoyed it for different reasons. I will certainly be doing my best to get a place for next year. I can not imagine that as the years go on this event will be as sought after as the London Marathon. And for good reason.
Keep up with Essex's finest, and not so finest through our Strava Club (https://www.strava.com/clubs/rideblackmore)
If you would like to give to Cardiomyopathy UK please do so via my fundraising site (http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=NickHobbs&faId=557211&isTeam=false)