Having completed the Prudential Ride 100 in 2015 I wondered if this event would be as amazing as I remembered two years ago.Cycling such a long way was a truly amazing experience and achievement for me, however this time I knew I could do it, so leading up to the event I had more confidence but this led me to train less…. Big mistake!
I found myself equally motivated this year, even as I switched off my alarm at 3am to make the journey to Stratford London. This was due to the amazing response from those that donated, my target of £500 was absolutely smashed. A total of £1065 was raised, a phenomenal amount. I feel very proud to have been able to assist in raising this money and contributing again to the www.lighthouseclub.org
Furthermore those that gave me moral support prior to the event thank you, your kind words were remembered when things got tough along the ride.
The early drive down to Stratford was a bit miserable, it had been raining all night and hadn’t let off, my fingers were firmly crossed that the weather report was correct and the rain would stop around 5am, which thankfully it did. The roads were very wet on the short ride to the Olympic Park where we’d set off from but the spirits of the thousands of cyclists waiting for their start time was certainly not damp, a bit of a nervous feel in the air with the last minute fettling of the bikes and jittery stretches and jumps to loosen up. This all goes though by the time you line up, music blaring from the speakers and encouragement from the DJ before starting the next wave.
It was much colder this year from what I remember so had to wrap up a bit more to keep the early morning chill out, I managed to get started just before 7am. The roads hadn’t drained much and stayed wet for some time. Cycling through the closed streets of London is one of my favourite parts of the ride. Whizzing past the London landmarks, through red lights; London has an eerie feel early on a Sunday morning, almost like it hasn’t quite woken up yet, some of the early supporters cheering on clearly hadn’t made it to bed yet either.
I was able to get into a good rhythm, and maintained a steady pace through London to Richmond Park. The legs were just starting to tire at this point, this is where the training pays off, and I was starting to regret not putting in more time in preparation. The additional weight I’ve put on this year didn’t help either, it was going to be a tough day at the office!!
Through West Byfleet and further out to Surrey. The Surrey Hills is the most difficult stage of the event, and the most fun. Around twenty miles of hills and climbs. The climbs at Newlands Corner, Leith Hill and Box Hill were especially tough, I had to dig very deep indeed. Having said that, what goes up must come down, so building up a bit of speed going down the hills was quite fun and scary at the same time, a crash at 35 mph would not be pretty with just lycra for protection! I was a little more timid than most, who were flying down the hills, head down, backside up without a care in the world.
I had a short stop about two thirds in to take on liquids and stretch my aching limbs and neck before the big push up Box Hill and the final 30 mile slog back to London. I realised my time was going to be nowhere near as quick as before so I just concentrated on getting to the end.
Stranded riders who’d experiencing mechanical failures, crashes and injury all reminded me of how tough this event actually is.
I was pushing hard, fighting through the pain in my tired legs that had been cramping since Leith Hill. The crowds that gathered through the town centres as we passed were very encouraging and seemed to give me a much needed boost and spurred me on to ride harder. By the time I got to the Thames near Chelsea embankment, I was pretty spent but I knew there wasn’t far to go. We cycled next to Parliament, and continued past the Cenotaph at Whitehall; Through Admiralty Arch leading on to the Mall. I could see the finish line once more, the relief was immense, just one last push to the finish.
The cheers from the crowds of spectators is absolutely amazing along the mall, it truly is an amazing experience. I crossed the line, finishing in 6 hours and 27 minutes, just under an hour slower than my last effort in 2015 but I was ecstatic. A very welcomed familiar face of my soon to be wife emerged from the crowd and gave me a much needed hug and a “well done” I was emotionally and physically drained. I was a little disappointed not to have finished a little quicker but that soon passed, I reflected briefly, I’d ridden a 100 miles on a bicycle, raised over a thousand pounds for a charity I’m really fond of, and had an absolute blast alongside thousands of other cyclists raising money for great causes, not a bad days work.
The sights, sounds and smells of the day are fading to a distant memory now but I feel I left a little unfinished business on the course. How’s this for a challenge, do it all again next year, with a target time of 4 hours 30 minutes an hour quicker than my best time, better start training now!!
Thanks again for all the support and contributions to such a great cause, and please continue to support the Lighthouse Club Charity if you can.