Ride London 2014 – the most fun I’ve ever had in the rain!
On Friday Martyn and I headed off to London ready for the Ride 100 on Sunday.The weather was not looking promising, with thunderstorms and gusty winds forecast due to tropical storm Bertha.
We packed for rain, but could never of predicted just how much rain we would encounter on our journey.
On Saturday we picked up our race chips and as many freebies as we could possible carry before returning to our hotel in Ilford. After realising the train would not be running in time for our 6:17 load deadline we made plans to ride the five miles to the Olympic Park, after all, what’s an extra five miles on 100!
We had planned our nutrition snacks, USN protein, nuts and seeds bars and hour one and three of the race peanut butter sandwiches and a banana at hour two, jelly babies and Bounce Balls for hours four and five and more peanut goodness for hour six, all washed down with plenty of High Five electrolyte drink and water.
The alarm went off at 4am and was swiftly put on snooze, 20 mins later I shook Martyn and flicked the kettle ready for our porridge and tea breakfast.
Attaching race numbers to our bikes there was no sign of the horrendous weather that had been predicted and as we set off towards the Olympic Park we were hopeful for a dry race.
Arriving at the Olympic Park we gave in our bags which we would collect at the finish line and made our way to our wave loading. The park was already brimming with cyclists, all excited and making pre race checks to bikes and clothing. The atmosphere was really exciting, but with an added nerve of tension about the impending stormy forecast. We had been told due to the weather the course would cut out Leith Hill and Box Hill, making our journey one of 86 miles instead of 100. Standing on the start line this seemed like such a shame, later on I would become thankful of this short cut!
All black loading waves went off in quick succession meaning we started before Schedule. I think the organisers were keen to get people moving before the weather came in.
Out on the course we breezed through the first 20 miles with no sign of rain. It was just as exciting as last year, riding on closed roads through one of the busiest cities in the world with not a car in sight, you felt like you were part of something special.
I don’t recall the mile or time when the rain started, just that droplets began to appear on my jacket. The rain didn’t seem to bother us and as we entered Richmond Park we were feeling good and going strong.
Leaving the park, the scenery soon changed from built up urban areas to rolling hills and hedgerows. Entering the country side it became more apparent that it was raining as the wind funnelled through the trees. We headed for the main climb of the course, Newlands Corner. When we reached the hills the water was flooding down the road, so as well as gravity pulling us backwards we had to battle a stream flooding the road. When we reached the top and the view opened up it was one of dark grey sheets of rain! With nowhere to hide from the storm the only thing you could do was laugh about the situation. I was so glad to have Martyn there, we kept each other going and were often joined by loan cyclists taking turns to shelter slightly from the beating wind.
I think they call it “character building”!
Stopping wasn’t an option. We dug deep and kept rolling on. The marshals were great because of the rain parts of roads were completely flooded and they made sure people went through at safe speeds.
60 miles in, it’s time for a pit stop.
At 60 miles we stopped at a hub to refuel. I had been under the illusion up until this point that under my coat I was dry. Nipping to the loo and having to peal off soggy layers I found out this was not the case, I felt instantly cold and knew we needed to get going quickly to build up warmth again. I frustratingly managed to reset my Garmin at this point too! Martyn and I grabbed some High Five, bananas and urban fruit bags before heading off.
Coming into Kingston the rain had eased to a mere dribble and the sun for the first time peaked out from behind a cloud, this was a great feeling, we felt instantly energised and pushed hard for the finish.
Coming into London crowds of people lined the finish line cheering which lifted our spirits just when our legs were starting to tire.
The tar mac turned to red as we made it to The Mall and sprinted to the line together. We had made it, 90 miles in a tropical storm! 22,000 cyclists, 90 miles and one tropical storm proving that cyclists are made of tough stuff!
Thank you to Prudential and the event organisers and volunteer who made sure everyone was well looked after.
5 hours of character building riding. Another great experience and we eagerly await the 2015!