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RideLondon-Surrey 100

Last Sunday saw me setting my alarm for the ridiculously early time of 3.45am, in order to stuff my face with porridge and get to London in time. It turned out to be unnecessary, as I was up at 3.15am and couldn't get back to sleep! I quietly got everything sorted and left the house at 4.30am, slightly later than anticipated but still plenty of time to get to the car park. Or so I thought...

I had to take a circuitous route to the car park on the Isle of Dogs, as the usual roads would take me across the route for the bike ride, which were closed to traffic. It seemed that practically every single traffic light turned red just as I got to it, meaning it took forever to get to the car park - I think it was around 5.35 when I finally got there. My loading time was 6.06am, so I faced a mad rush to get to the Olympic Park on time - rather than the nice leisurely warm-up ride I'd hoped for, I ended up going quite a bit faster! There were hundreds of other cyclists headed the same way, so thankfully I didn't need to rely on my Garmin to get me there...

I arrived at the Olympic Park at 6:05 - just giving me time to drop off my bag and get into the loading zone. Thankfully they had toilets in the loading zone as I was worried I was going to have to wait until further along the route! There was a 36 minute wait in the loading zones - in that time I tried to get my Garmin to find my heart rate monitor and cadence sensor, as for some reason the settings had disappeared. The trouble was, the Garmin detected multiple monitors and sensors close by, as obviously I was on a crowd of cyclists many of whom also had Garmins!

We finally got to 6:42 and black wave H was all ready to go. The actual start of the ride was a couple of miles down the road, so I had a bit of time to try and find some space, and get my HRM and cadence sensor working - after a lot of frustration I finally managed it! We then crossed the official starting line and away we went!

It was quite surreal riding the wrong way up the A12, and even more so once we got into central London and were riding along the Embankment without any cars. It was amazing, and I had a huge grin on my face as I zoomed through the opening miles. I definitely went off too quickly, too early, but at this point I didn't care!

Before long we were out of central London, over the river and into Richmond, then Kingston. Even at this early hour there were people on the side of the road cheering us on, which definitely helped to motivate me.


As we headed out further into Surrey, my legs were starting to feel the effect of my earling morning dash to the start and then going off too quickly, as I really slowed down over the rolling hills, and found it quite difficult to keep going. This happened on my last sportive, but much later in the ride - however, I had an energy gel and kept plugging away, and finally managed to get back up to speed. Just in time too, as we reached the first spike in the profile, Newlands Corner. This was a short but reasonably steep climb, I didn't have too many problems getting up it, but I was glad to see the hub at the top to top up my drinks and grab a banana. Then came the first proper descent of the ride, which was fun!

The next big climb was Leith Hill, which was only a short distance away, so I scoffed another energy gel and prepared myself. This is the profile for Leith Hill:


Not exactly mountainous, but for someone like me I knew it was going to be difficult. I switched to my lowest gear and span my way all the way up the hill. My right calf cramped up just as I got to the top, but I managed to get up without stopping or walking which I was very pleased about! I kept going despite the calf, as the next bit was all downhill, and I kept going until the drinks station at the bottom, where it eased up a little.

After Leith Hill, Box Hill was much easier - it's longer, but a steady gradient all the way, and I had no problems at all getting up. The only problem was the marshall at the 'top' shouting to everyone that they'd made it, only for there to be quite a bit further to go before the climbing stopped!


With Box Hill out of the way, the route back to London was mostly straightforward, apart from cramp in the other calf near Wimbledon, but I just kept going - the cheering from the side of the road really helped! I knew that I was still on for doing the ride in under 6 hours, which had always been my target - the last 20 miles or so I spent more time looking at my Garmin and doing mental arithmetic than I did looking around me! However once we got over the river I knew I just had to keep going at 30km/h and I'd do it.

I started getting a little emotional at this point, especially when I came through Parliament Square and passed the Houses of Parliament, knowing that I was almost there. There was a tight left hand turn in Trafalgar Square to go under Admiralty Arch, then we were onto The Mall and the final few hundred metres! I did my best to sprint but there wasn't much left - however, I had enough energy to punch the air with both hands as I crossed the line.


According to the Garmin, my time from the Olympic Park to The Mall was 5 hours 58 minutes - however, I later found out that my official time (taken from the start line 2 miles down the road from the Olympic Park) was 5 hours, 49 minutes and 30 seconds. Given that I wasn't 100% I was really pleased with this!


After getting my medal, picking up my bag and having a bite to eat, I headed back to the car park. This was not a fun experience - my Garmin got me completely lost, and when I finally got back on track I had to deal with the traffic lights turning red seemingly every 5 metres.

Overall though, this was a fantastic day - everything about the ride went smoothly, everyone was really friendly (especially the crowds who were watching) and riding on closed roads through central London was brilliant! I'll definitely be trying to get a place in next year's ride!

The details of my ride can be seen on Endomondo. In other great news, I beat my fundraising target - so far I've raised £110 for Great Ormond Street Hospital, with hopefully some more donations still to come (here's a link to my JustGiving page). I've uploaded the full album of photos here, and there's also a video on YouTube.

I don't quite know what to do with myself now - I've been building up to this for so long that now I need something else to target!

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