RideLondon: 100 miles

I have spent years trying to get a place in RideLondon. Finally successful in 2020, for it to be cancelled as per everything else due to COVID-19. No deferral options, just refunds, so I really felt like I had missed my opportunity. Roll on a couple of years and I was lucky enough to get a ballot place for this years event.

Race Preparation

This was far from ideal. A wedding the day before a few hours away from London and arrival time at Westminster of 7:15am turned into a logistical nightmare. However life happens and quite frankly I was not missing out on anything, so here is how I dealt with this:

  • No drinking at the wedding
  • Drove from the wedding to stay within one hour of central London
  • Set A LOT of alarms to ensure I woke up
  • A friend kindly allowed me to park on his drive in Fulham
  • Tube to the start-line – lets face it I didn’t need to add another 5 miles on

When helping prepare clients for race day, we can often get hung up on what we cant control. In this scenario there were a lot of things out of my control. But what is important is to optimise and focus on those areas you can, this can help minimise stress about the event but ensure you are prepared.

After 4 ½ hours sleep I was standing waiting to get to the start line. I have never seen so many cyclists in my life! There was a great atmosphere, but despite different wave start times it appeared everyone just joined the big queue, so I ended up waiting 45 minutes in the start area.

A few mistakes I made on race day:

  • Didn’t bring any toilet roll with me. A rookie mistake to turn up to any sporting race without your own supply. The thousands of cyclists ahead of me ensuring that there was none on the entire route, luckily not essential during the event for me, but a luxury I would have liked.
  • Didn’t account for the length of time I would be waiting around before the start

– It was cold: could have brought a throwaway layer

– Should have brought extra snacks, as by the time I started it had been over 3 hours since breakfast and I was getting a bit peckish.

  • Concentrating on keeping my bike upright. After 45minutes of waiting, we were finally at the start line. I got distracted, bike fell on the floor and the chain fell off. Luckily no damage, just oily hands to deal with.
  • Forgot to make my own sports drink (should have prepped in advance knowing I wouldn’t remember everything at half 5 in the morning!).

This was the first year on this course and my first closed road event. Starting from Embankment, heading out to Essex via Epping Forest, then making our way back to finish on Tower Bridge. A fairly flat course, with a few undulating sections with feed stops roughly every 20-30miles.There was no chance of getting lost, which is always a bonus. Really well marshalled, roving volunteers helping people with mechanical issues and punctures. Thankfully I made it round with no issues.

What was my nutrition strategy for the race?

Well if I am totally honest, I was winging it a bit. I had no idea how long it would take me, so this made it difficult to plan. The race organisers were not very forthcoming with what was being provided which didn’t help. But I made a few goals to keep me on track as much as possible.

Aim:

  • Drink 1 bottle of fluid between each feed stop
  • Eat as much as possible at each feed stop
  • At least 1x gel/bar between the stops.

So what did I eat:

  • 5 gels
  • 1x cheese sandwich, 1x jam sandwich
  • 1 packet of crisps
  • 1 flapjack
  • 3 bananas
  • 2 Soreen bars
  • Handful of jelly snakes
  • Lost count of fluid: at least 1l High5 electrolyte drink (provided at feed stations), 3l water (but probably more)

Whilst this probably wasn’t enough, I have certainly improved the amount I am physically able to feed myself whilst cycling, but also tolerate. Room for improvement but I gained a lot of confidence for any future long cycle rides/races. For me this was always about getting round in one piece and enjoying it. I did not put myself under any time pressure and this certainly helped from a nerves and expectation perspective. I like to take each event and training session as learning experiences; we can’t always get it spot on but it’s recognising where and when we can make improvements and adjusting accordingly.

What did I learn from this event:

  • Closed road events are great, such a rarity and great to see cyclists of all abilities on all types of bikes out there all having a great day.
  • Get to the start early and don’t forget to take some loo roll.
  • Learning to eat and drink whilst cycling was invaluable (this is something I have been working on for a while!), but still room for improvement and more careful consideration of eat to eat snacks will be worked on.
  • Studying the course route was pretty handy.
  • Break down the route and focusing on next feed stop helped me to not get overwhelmed by the length of the course.

I will be signing up for the ballot again, lets see if it takes another 8 years to get a spot!

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