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Ride London

My first attempt at Ride London

Ride London has been on my list for several years just to experience what a big Sportive in the UK feels like compared to Europe. As I woke up at 4 am with the rain lashing down I was starting to regret my decision! With many of the roads closed and no parking it was a case of having to ride to the start and getting very wet.

It is worth reading the race pack thoroughly to find out where your start pen is and which approach you need to take. Although it may not be far as the crow flies between pens you may have to ride the long way around to get there. I was pleased I had created a route on Koomot which successfully navigated me to the correct start location. It did feel a bit like the pied piper which a big group behind followed. I just hoped they were all going to the same yellow pen!

The start line

Luckily there are a small number of toilets to use in the start pen. It was time for my pre-race pee before rolling out for the start. I had heard horror stories of the chaos and danger in the first few miles. However, I did not see any accidents or incidents. Being in the first pen we had a car to nutralise the start which may have been going even slower due to the wet conditions. There are quite a few tight turns, road furniture and underpasses to navigate in the first part of the event so you need to have your wits about you. There are lots of marshalls helping to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Once out of central London and onto the long straight around Epping the pace ramps up. Some big groups are starting to form and if you are looking for a fast time it is wise to sit in where possible. Be cautious riding away from a group thinking you are faster as you can sit out on your own not getting much further at all but burning a ton of matches! The general gradient is climbing through this section but not steep at all.

With the weather being wet there were many punctures along the way even after the first few hundred meters! I would always recommend having new tyres before any key event as a puncture is the last thing you want on the day. Even new tyres do not guarantee ‘puncture-free’ and with the awful conditions, I fell foul to one after 26 miles.

As you enter Essex and head to the furthest point on the event it starts to flatten out after the initial climbing. I did not find the scenery overly exciting in my opinion so it was just a case of getting your head down and ticking off the miles.

Once you have gone through Chigwell there is what I felt was the toughest climb of the day. It was only around a mile in length but as this comes at around 84 miles your legs are already pretty fatigued. From here on until the finish I found this the most dangerous as the roads are very busy due to the shorter distances all coming together. As you enter central London you have to have your wits about you with plenty of street furniture and very tight bends!

I was pleased to complete the event safely which was my goal. My time was 4h 42min which due to the conditions I was happy with. I will have another go next year to try and improve my time.

Check out my Strava file here

James Walsgrove

My cycling career started in 2005 when I purchased my first road bike and I was immediately hooked. Since then I have completed numerous cycling challenges including Ironman, Lands’ End to John O Groats, Mt Ventoux (all 3 ascents), London to Paris, the BBAR challenge which included a 12hour TimeTrial, Ride London and the Mallorca 312 6 times now.

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