Sunday 29 July: Many thanks for your support, encouragement and sponsorship for the 2018 Ride London-Surrey. Having initially planned for a hot day, plans were hastily changed to deal with the wet – this year’s ride started with light rain and continued with it for about 60 of my 100 miles.
Having had weeks of dry weather, roads were potentially very slippery and I soon abandoned any hopes of improving on last year’s time, concentrating more on finishing safely. So 6:44 overall time, lots of challenges, plenty of fun as well as some gritting of teeth and just grinding up some of the hills, as well as causing traffic chaos in London with lots of closed roads. Once again, a real privilege to have been able to take part.
Actual crowds were smaller in number because of the rain but were much appreciated because they braved it! Your encouragement certainly helped, as did the knowledge that my sponsorship target had now been exceeded – about £760 raised so far. A big thank you to all of you, especially the anonymous donor because I can’t thank you personally.
As last year, this was simply amazing – the sheer amount of organisation and team work with both paid staff and volunteers is huge and really seems to work well. Of course, the actual cycling is pretty easy compared to that!
Cycling towards the start at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford (at 5 something am), I began to see the directions for the different colour starting groups – mine was green and there were possibly 6, maybe more, different colours. Within each colour we all had Wave letters – mine was F, so I headed off to the holding area for that Wave. There I, and several hundred others, waited until we were called to start to move towards the actual start. We gradually moved forwards to find that there were two parallel starting grids so that one Wave was getting fully into position while another Wave was actually starting to ride. It had taken us nearly an hour to reach the start line from when we started moving – but bang on 7:12am (the exact time my instructions said we would start), my Wave was started and we rode onto the A12 towards the Blackwall Tunnel.
Turning left just before the tunnel, we headed East then to the area around City Airport and then West, through the Limehouse Link tunnel, along the Highway, past the Tower and onto the Embankment, around Trafalgar Square, onto Pall Mall, then past the Ritz, Harrods, over the Hammersmith fly-over and crossed the river at Chiswick. All these roads fully closed to traffic, so I frequently delighted in riding on the right-hand side of the road.
Then off to Richmond Park, Kingston, Molesey, Weybridge.
After about 40 miles, we started to climb the hills – Newlands Corner (warm up), Leith Hill (a bit of a prelude then around a bend and it’s steep and hard, but fortunately not that long). Careful descent in the wet, then a few miles grace until Box Hill (zig-zags for over a mile but never quite as steep as Leith Hill).
No more big hills to come so keep the power on while remembering the sharp little bump at Wimbledon, which does hurt a bit at 90 miles. Then through Putney and onto the Embankment winding up towards Whitehall, through Admiralty Arch for the final 500 metres or so in the Mall with Buckingham Palace possibly visible (I only had eyes for the
finish line) – no opportunity for a real sprint finish as there was too big a group in front of me to spend the effort.
Now, you can also see a series of video clips in which I appear. It can be quite challenging to spot me, but, as you’ll have seen from the photos, here are some clues: white helmet, pink socks, orange and dark grey Arthritis Research jersey, mostly white bike, red handlebars and gloves, number F11788 with green background, mostly upright riding position:
Did you note the weather and also the effort needed on Wimbledon Hill – that was easy-ish compared to the other hills!
More clues, if you can see the timings on the video
0:16 on the left, 0:34, 0:44 behind rider in light blue, part hidden by rider in black, 1:05 same, 1:19 on left, 1:45-48, 1:53-58, 2:09-16, 2:48,
3:03, 3:16, 3:29, 3:42, 3:55, 4:03, 4:24, 4:40 (gets a bit boring towards the end)