After three months of training yesterday my Dad and I completed the Prudential Ride London. Today I’m not feeling bad. I made a conscious effort to stretch yesterday and the three pints and a burger after the race definitely helped me to forget my sore bum.
I really enjoyed the bike ride and after being pretty nervous about the whole thing I’m glad I can now say that I’ve done it. I was going to write a blog about my pre ride nerves but thought I might jinx something if I admitted how nervous I was. It definitely felt like unknown territory.
It was an early start getting up at 5.15am. I forced fed myself a huge bowl of porridge prepared by my no 1 support team member aka my Mum. Everyone I’d spoken to for advice all said to make sure you eat enough food so after porridge we cycled about nine miles from Borough where we were staying to the Olympic village, passing wasted people returning from their Saturday nights out. We arrived there in plenty of time so had a final loo stop and then headed to our starting zone. At the first lot of portaloos we saw a guy peeing with the door open basically with the front wheel of his bike in the toilet with him which seemed very unnecessary.
Our start time was 7.30am but unfortunately we didn’t get started until closer to 9am for some reason. Once we did get started it was amazing going through the first few miles in central London on closed roads. Even though both sides of the road we’re available to us it was funny how everyone seemed to stay on the left.
The weather was perfect riding conditions and the first load of miles flew by as we headed out to Surrey. We went through Richmond Park which was really nice, similar to Tatton Park in Manchester which I had been through a few time on training rides. Once we got through there we stopped at the 25 mile station to fill up our bottles and have some more food.
There were a fair few riders around us as we were going and we also saw a fair few accidents mainly on corners at this point. We didn’t actually see anyone fall but saw the aftermath and the ambulances which was a bit unnerving. The next load of crashes we saw were when we were going through the hills mainly on the descents.
We soon came to Newland’s corner, the first hill just before mile 50 station. I kept checking with my Dad when the hills were coming so I could make sure I would be in the right gear as Dad has done the ride before but he couldn’t remember the route. I didn’t go into my granny gears as I knew this hill wasn’t supposed to be bad so wanted to save my really low gears for Leith Hill. As we were going up the hill through the trees it was deadly quiet. With no cars and no conversation you could hear a pin dropped. I passed a couple on a tandem and asked them if it was twice as hard or twice as easy for them, one of them just gasped for air and the other said harder.
After stopping at mile 50 for some more food, luckily we had brought our own as they had run out, it was onto more hills. The views from the food station were amazing, one good thing about cycling up hills the views are always good. I was preparing myself for Leith Hill when we started to ascent again asking my Dad if this was it and he said he thought it was the start so this time I went onto my Granny ring. The climb didn’t last too long and I managed it pretty easily, it was only when we came to the next junction that we realised that that wasn’t Leith hill and they were sorry but we had been diverted and we were joining up with a load of cyclists coming from the right. We were waiting for the next mile marker so we could work out how much we had actually missed which turned out to be about four miles.
After speaking to a few different people turned out that some people had been stuck for an hour and a half at the bottom of the real Leith Hill for an air ambulance to come for the guy who had a heart attack going up it. So as we carried on there were a lot more bikes around us now, which is one of the reasons I think there were so many crashes on the descents.
There was one sticky bit after a descent where we started to go up again after a corner on a narrow road and it was a bottleneck of bikes with a few people falling over. I stopped in a really high gear and couldn’t move off again on the hill so had to turn my pedals standing still to get into a lower gear and then I managed to move off. We saw another bad crash at the bottom of a descent where there was a back up of bikes and everyone was inching forward one leg clipped in one leg out and I definable felt like I was going to go over so unclipped while we passed the ambulance that was blocking the road with a cyclist on the floor been seen too.
The next bottleneck we came to seemed to happened in what felt like Woking high street. It was a really nice place to stop for a few minutes as there was loads of people there having drinks outside pubs cheering us on. One guy with a pint told us we have Box Hill to look forward to next.
When I found out we’d missed out Leith I wasn’t cursing too much as I still had to tackle Box Hill and if I really struggled up that I would’ve found it even more difficult after already tackling a big hill. The road surface was really smooth as promised and as we started to go up I looked up and to the right and could see other cyclists way up high where we were heading but I was assured it wasn’t that bad and the friendly cyclist was right. Although it’s fairly long it isn’t too steep, just a matter of keeping it rolling and soon enough you get to the top for an amazing view.
Then we carried on and it was really warm at this point. We came to the 75 mile stop for some fig rolls and water where there was a very nice marshal filling our bottles for us. Then we headed to London crossing some really nice bridges on our way. Dad got a puncture on his back wheel which he fixed while I put his chain back on for him and got oil all over myself. Then we carried on with 20 or so miles to go. It was a this point that I was quite looking forward to the end and just wanted to get these last miles done.
We passed endless pubs on our way around with loads of people outside enjoying their Sunday in the sun. As we got closer to London we saw people falling out of pubs again clearly been on all day sessions which felt weird as we had started and ended passing drunk people.
I passed one of my friends who had come to watch on her bike but completely missed her and only heard her shout my name as we went past then saw another friend and soon enough were close to the finish. It was a real buzz at the end and I started waving at everyone we went passed knowing that we had done it. I was waving at one group of people and looked again and turned out I was waving at my Mum and our other friends which was a nice surprise. Then before we knew it we had crossed the finish line and my Dad and I crossed arm in arm probably not looking quite as cool as the Sky Team but not far off.
Thoughts from this week:
- Cycling on closed roads is definitely the way forward
- Added another race number to my wall
- Going to sign up for Macclesfield Half Marathon
- Goody bag from the bike ride was average
- Time to get my running shoes back on