Cycling your way through the streets of London
Stu's Ride London adventure
I’ve always been a competent cyclist, but one who enjoys a 20-40 mile ride, with a couple of stops at pubs en route rather than anything over 3 hours. My previous furthest distance was 70 miles a few years ago and I always saw 100 miles as unreachable; so whilst I was excited to attempt ride London I was also filled with quite a bit of trepidation.
I didn't have the best training and struggled with cramp on a few of my training rides but nothing could prepare me for the day.
From the moment I rode across the start line at 7:16am to the moment I finished 7 hours later the day was incredible: the crowds, the camaraderie, the challenge…even the weather. My favourite thing by far was cycling on closed roads and not having to stop for traffic lights; this makes a huge difference to my cycling as I can keep my rhythm and cadence consistent.
Unfortunately for me, my cramp troubles started to haunt my as I climbed Newlands Corner, but by gritting my teeth, I got to the top and pulled right into one of the feed stations. There I was offered water, bananas and gels and one of the helpers even offered to walk my bike because he could see my quad spasming with cramp.
A ten minute break here and I was good to go and tackle the climbs of Leith Hill and Box Hill. These both proved testing with my cramp and I just needed to manage the amount of power I was putting through each pedal stroke; it did mean climbing both in my granny gear, whilst being overtaken by 80 year olds on tandem bikes but it's irrelevant – I got there.
One of the highlights for me was the run in to London. After the punishing climbs of the Surrey Hills the flat, largely straight, roads into London meant I could turn a much higher gear and flush out the lactic acid that had built up. With the tail wind I felt better and better as the ride went on and miles 80-100 were fantastic; I began to rescue my average speed that had taken quite a battering in the three hills.
One question. Would I do it again? Yes - Not only was I filled with pride crossing the finish line, but it also gave me a clear indication as to what I will do next time and how to come back as a stronger cyclist.