Wow – that was hard! Norfolk is a poor training ground for Yorkshire hills. There were 6 major hills, all but one of which I walked up – too steep for me when in company of others who were also finding them challenging and, like me, weaving over the road so there wasn’t always a clear path to ride in. I opted for the easy way out and walked.
But Yorkshire was amazing: roads in the towns and villages decorated with official light blue Tour de Yorkshire flags etc and with a delightful assortment of bunting, flags, miniature jerseys, painted bikes – and people cheering us on from their front gardens, laybys, outside the pubs etc.
Yorkshire has a great reputation among cyclists for its welcome and I can now attest to that. Yes, there was also a professional race coming through – but several hours after us. I saw one mum setting up with two young children and chairs and picnic. Bridge Church in Otley with jugs of orange squash to refill our bottles (very welcome in the heat – it was a really nice day).
The sound of people drumming on the finish barriers both very welcome and highly memorable.
Knowing the hills, I deliberately set out with no target time, planning only to finish in one piece, frequent stops plus a mile or two walking (only way to admire the view – the descents obviously also very steep!).
Simply amazing. Can’t fault the organisation and pleased with my own ride aimed for 6 hours riding time but didn’t quite make it (6:18). A tremendous privilege to ride through closed roads in our capital city and Surrey with thousands of other riders.
(Click on any photo to enlarge)
Managed the hills, overwhelmed by the crowds who gathered along most of the road, especially in town centres and, of course, the finish. Over £1,400 raised for charity, split between Parkinsons and Wymondham Dementia
Support Group – thank you if you were among those who gave so generously.
This video does give an impression of some of the day. You’ll need to look carefully at what I’m wearing to spot me!
During the song at the finish, I should be in the picture when you hear “Scooby-doo, I see you”
While this wasn’t my first event since returning to cycling, it’s the event that sparked off this website and the idea of encouraging people to encourage me!
This is a detailed record, all for my benefit – only read if you’re bored!
Stayed at Mark and Jen’s in Kennington – perfect location.
Set off soon after 5am from Mark’s, arrived about 6. Scores of other riders so just followed them. Also scores of punctures – must have been at least 20 before even got to the start. Also lots en route…puzzled – roads didn’t seem that much of a problem.
Sat around in Pink zone, had second breakfast, read, then toilet stop, then kit bag store – this was easy. Was a stall selling coffee but a long queue. Stacks of toilets, not really a need to queue – just waited till all looked quiet.
Put leg warmers in kitbag and also jacket (don’t do this next time). Could have carried a real book to preserve battery – though wasn’t an issue. Kept arm warmers on till a stop somewhere.
Joined the wave at wave opening time (7am). OK, waiting around till wave closing time (7.40) soon after which we started to move forwards to the start. Probably several hundred in the wave, seemed mixed abilities.
Actually two starts so two waves were alternating all the time.
Start at exactly 8.20, by now weather very pleasant (having started with rain overnight and light showers early).
No problems of bunching once on the road – plenty wide, used A12 for a bit then through dockland area near airport, on towards Limehouse Link tunnel, through it, along the Highway, around the Tower onto Gt Tower St then Embankment, Northumberland Ave. Can’t remember if we only had one half of these roads, but width was never an issue.
Up to Trafalgar Sq, Pall Mall, St James St, Piccadilly, Knightsbridge. At some point here we had lots of road. On to Hammersmith, up the flyover, onto Chiswick and over the river. Through to Richmond Park. While it was great going along Brompton Rd, Cromwell Rd and other roads where we had the whole road, going across Richmond Park was a bit more of a trial as slower riders didn’t stay on the left and often bunched. Nearly taken out by someone suddenly stopping in front of me.
Once past the Park, going was good, plenty of space, I used the right side of the road frequently. Still not used to going through red lights so mentally if not physically covering the brakes!
All turns were warned 100m ahead (though not the direction of the turn). No possibility of going astray as side roads cordoned off/marshalled.
Feed stations – avoided completely except for one stop for water – queues too long for food. Used a local park hidden in the woods. May have made a mistake in fuelling with a gel and not drinking enough water with it before the hills – felt a tiny bit sick.
Newlands Corner – deceptive, thought I might have even gone up it but that was just a prelude. Sharp, hard but not that long – but narrow. Problem was other cyclists who wobbled more than I or walked – or were storming up. I just took it steadily and managed – just.
Leith Hill – Hard and longer, same problem, but made it. Took the descent cautiously as damp in places; stayed behind a young lady and let the faster ones go.
Box Hill – not as steep but a lot longer, seemed to go on for ever with twists and turns. By now the walkers seemed to have taken the diversions so a little easier to manage. Took the descent faster – nearly hit 40mph
Paused to eat an energy bar as wasn’t feeling that great – bit shaky, but after rest, drink and bar carried on no problem.
Fine, bowling along until Wimbledon Hill whose steepness was an unpleasant surprise, though the hill wasn’t unexpected! Stopped and stretched as was a bit worried re cramp
Now flattish, really helped by the crowds (and passing slower riders). (didn’t take any notice of faster ones – weren’t many by then). Tried to find wheels to sit on but no success. Over Putney bridge, cranking up as much as I could, onto Kings Rd then onto the Embankment. Mostly had the right side of the road to myself so 20mph+ all the way (wanted to get over 30!), up to Houses of Parliament, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty arch and onto the Mall as hard as I could. Chris Boardman’s comment – if you think you can sustain the pace, you’re not going fast enough – ringing in my head so kept the pressure on. Head down, occasional look up to ensure path clear.
Several accidents/people lying in the road (all attended) no idea what was wrong. Added a note of caution on the descents though. Heard someone died from a heart attack early on on the 46 mile route, apparently a pre-existing condition.