Somewhere deep beneath a duvet in Central London…
‘Whaaaaaaaa…..(long silence, maybe even a snore)…. I don’t even like cycling’
That was the TOUGHEST part of RideLondon 100 as I really, REALLY don’t do early mornings. Who knew that there were two 5 o’clocks in the day? Breakfast consisted of two porridge pots and a banana, which FYI can all be eaten with your head still on the pillow.
Lining up for the start everyone was in high spirits and the time passed eventfully – I had my photo taken by a lady who said (repeatedly) I looked EXACTLY like her best friend, I panicked at the ‘last toilets before start’ sign, only to see many many more beyond that, I chatted to a marshall that could only talk about the bacon sandwich he was looking forward to and I was amazed by the sheer number of gels consumed over an hour before our start. I dropped a jelly baby and mourned its loss, joined by fellow jelly baby lovers.
At exactly 8.13 the horn went and my wave set off. Cycling through central London with numerous onlookers cheering was an amazing experience. I was on a mission though as David was 28 minutes behind me and I was desperate to see how far I could get before he caught up. The only way I could do this was to become a complete wheel tart, jumping on the back of anyone who looked like they had a good pace and smooth line. I even got a thumbs up from one guy. My chain came off coming out of the tunnel, which was a scary experience with so many riders bearing down on me as I tried to cross to the side. Anyone who knows how precious I am about getting my hands dirty will be proud of me just grabbing it and getting it back on as quickly as possible, the element of pursuit is a great motivator (and there aren’t many sticks lying around in a tunnel).
Once out of London and just past Weybridge I planned my first stop at 38 miles, I felt good but the bottles were empty…and at just that point the mass peloton of thousands of riders were halted following a serious accident – it took an hour and 20 minutes to move on but generally everyone was very patient – the mood was of concern for the injured cyclist. (Apart from where David was – when they all moved aside to let an ambulance pass one lone cyclist was drafting it – the power of the booing masses made him eventually pull over). Yes, the hold up was annoying but the day was far worse for those involved, and their families. Needless to say our thoughts are with them all.
In the hold up my VCGH top was recognised by a neighbour of a club member so we kept each other company as we walked at stop start pace along for about 1.5 miles (as one rider stated ‘I expected bits of me to wear out on the ride but not my cleats’). Unbeknown to either of us David passed me at this point, no idea how but friends were having a captivating day tracking us on the RideLondon app and they all broke the news to me gleefully.
Finally the roads opened again and it was onwards and upwards with Newlands Corner, Leith Hill and Box Hill looming. Another accident resulted in another 10 minute stop and Leith Hill, the one I had heard so much about but hadn’t actually get round to doing, has still not been done in its entirety as everything once more came to a halt and we all had to walk the first half. Luckily that left what I think was the steepest part which felt horrible after the wait – helpful residents were on hand to give a countdown as to how far to go.
Once the hills were conquered it was the 35 mile final push back into London (with a nasty little hill in Wimbledon to test those weary legs one last time, but the people of Wimbledon were rocking and totally motivating).
As I took the final turn onto the Mall my legs were weary, my food had run out and my bottles were empty. I zipped my top up (for VCGH publicity on the front pages of the next days newspapers) and turned into Pall Mall ready for the smile to beam across my face as the finish came into sight. But no, there was work to be done first – I was not going to let the lady who had just blasted past me have the glory of the crowds cheering (in my head, this was the Classique finish) so I jumped on her wheel and hung on until the last 100 meters when the beast within me found the energy to power past – official photo’s show that she was broken. Boom. Job done. And my inner child was put back in its box.
What a totally amazing experience – and I am very pleased with my time of 6 hours 12 minutes (once all the hold ups are taken into account). I was told it would be my fastest hundred but it was pretty much my fastest ride ever. Loving closed roads! Love cycling!
Some of the best memories
• London roads WITH NO TRAFFIC
• A spontaneous Boris Bike ride in the Free Cycle the day before. Great to see so many children spinning those little legs so fast just to keep up, and yes, the teddys were necessary extra weight.
• The amazing banners people had taken the time to make – ‘Go Go Awesome Strangers’ was my favourite
• Cycling PAST the start of Coombe Lane, thankfully
• Being in the ‘fast’ lane up Box Hill (and getting a PR to boot). I didn’t have to call ‘on your right’ as my heavy breathing was a signal for everyone around me. I got comments about it.
• Motivating texts from friends as they followed us on the app
• Feeling like a cycling GODDESS
• Seeing such a variety of people cycling – loving the love of cycling
• Waving to the elderly residents who had been wheeled out for the day (I do hope they liked cycling) – and spotting how many were asleep
• Cycling through Wimbledon dancing to YMCA – one handed of course
• The youngest spectators who bounced like crazy after being high fived
• Being a part of something so big
• Raising loads for Macmillan – such generous friends and colleagues
• Eating the best jaffa cakes ever at Leatherhead hub (I think they were normal but at that point they tasted amazing)
• Truly believing the crowds were cheering me like crazy as I blasted down the final straight – in my head I was THE WINNER
• Never once feeling alone in 100 miles…
…that said, maybe 2017 should be the year of a ladies taking a team place? Hands up ladies, who’s game?