What a difference a day or two makes! On Thursday it was 34 degrees C, Friday 31 degrees C, Saturday was the perfect temperature, if you remove the wind the conditions were great. For Sunday, my weather app said 95% chance of rain at 8am. It was 100% correct.
After 8 weeks in the UK with no rain, I arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Park after a 12-mile ride to get there, fairly wet. After a puncture en route and getting lost/not being able to find the blue start, I only had time to drop my bag, use the loo and arrive in my wave with 20 minutes to spare. It turned out to be a good thing, being wet and standing still in the wind brought on the shivers.
I rode the Ride London 46 last year and loved it. You can read my post here. This year was different, or maybe the weather was different.
As I started there was not the sense of excitement I had noticed last year. Cycling whilst cold and wet with spray in your face is not fun. I got the idea that many people wanted to get this ride over and done with.
The first 5 miles were slow and tentative as people found their feet and warmed up their legs. The driving rain along the A12 dual carriageway was harsh. Through the Limehouse Tunnel, people were glad to be out the wind and rain and in the warmth. The route was littered with upside down bikes as inter-tubes were changed as the wet roads caused many punctures.
I knew this year would not be quite as comfortable as last year. My legs have been feeling tired for a few weeks. I’m not sure what this is from. It’s definitely not overtraining, but knew it would be a good run out for the Velo South in September.
Where last years ride flew by (maybe due to my inexperience) and was non stop pushing, this one was a bit of a grind. I kept pushing where I could but was happy to sit up and coast from time to time. I was not too fussed about the enforced stops for road crossings.
If the sun had been out, the atmosphere would have been amazing. People would have been out shopping, the pubs would have been full and the streets would have be lined. It just wasn’t going to be with the rain. The charity cheer squads did a fantastic job cheering the riders on in the conditions, but they were the only ones making noise along with a few hardcore spectators.
The rain eased off then stopped, but the wind was unrelenting. I stopped at the end of my road and my girlfriend gave me some chocolates and a refill for my bottle. Beating my time from last year had long gone out the window. I laboured up Wimbledon Hill where the support is always great. Pushed through Putney and along the Embankment. I crossed the line, was presented with my medal and changed into my dry set of clothes that I had sensibly planned.
My legs kept going in the end, but I wouldn’t have like to go around again (a feeling I always get at the end of a half marathon). We will see how the 100-mile ride will go in 7 or so weeks. Hopefully, riding with my friends will drive my along and I can work on my conditioning between now and then. I still enjoyed the Ride London 46. It always a privilege to ride on closed roads, especially in London and there are always lessons to take forward.
Ride London is a fantastic event and does a great job promoting cycling and encouraging people to try it and take part in the event. The organisation required for an event this size is fairly unthinkable and pulled off very well. The weather plays a part at any sporting event and after the 8 weeks of no rain, it was unfortunate that it rained this day. Maybe the clouds did have a silver lining, as the searing heat of the last few weeks may have been unbearable and potentially more dangerous.
The ballot for 2019 is open on Monday 6th August 2018 and closes when 80,000 entries have been received.