Date: 29th May 2022
Average speed: 28.4km/h
Compared to my two previous RideLondon experiences, everything felt very rushed. The ride was in May rather than July, meaning I had two fewer months of training (my own fault for not pushing earlier). We also didn’t receive instructions until quite close to the start day, by which time the hotel I’d had my eye on was sold out. I ended up booking one at South Mimms, and booked parking not far from Whitehall.
Getting there on time
My two previous attempts had taught me the importance of giving myself plenty of time to arrive for my wave, and this time I got it right. In fact, I arrived on Whitehall earlier than necessary, although this allowed me time for an emergency toilet stop(!) Everything was rather busy, which still feels weird in a post-Covid world.
I set off on-time and made excellent progress, the wind had been forecast to be coming towards us but we seemed reasonably sheltered. My leges feeling much better than I’d anticipated, the adrenaline was overriding the lack of sleep at this point. I was able to surf quite a lot of wheels and after two hours I was well on course to beat 6 hours.
Unfortunately, I had to stop shortly afterwards for just over 30 minutes due to an incident up ahead – I believe an air ambulance was required to take an injured rider to hospital. It was unfortunate but couldn’t be helped. In a way it helped, because with the delay I knew my chance of beating 6 hours was gone, so I didn’t have to stress about it.
New this year was the decision not to include the time spent in the rest areas. I suppose it removes some of the “race” element and encourages riders not to rush in crowded areas, but it still felt a little bit like cheating to me. I only stopped once this year, just after the half-way mark. It took around ten minutes as we had to cycle a fair distance away from the course, and it was very busy. I was desperate for the toilet at this point after the enforced stop earlier, and I also refilled my bottles.
Back to London
There was a headwind now which made things slightly easier. My legs were feeling a bit tired now and I suffered the ignominy of being overtaken by a man in a chicken costume! My left calf cramped with around 20 miles left to go, but it wasn’t too bad. At around the 90 mile mark I started to get a little emotional as I knew I was going to finish. The Samaritans cheering point near the end offered some much-needed motivation!
Cycling on the A12 was exhausting at the end. I still had plenty of speed when going downhill or on the flat, but going uphill was horrible. Not that there are any major hills there, but at this point any uphill section felt like the Mur de Huy! We had to stop a few times as we approached the finish due to stewards allowing traffic to cross. This felt a little cruel so close to the finish line.
Due to crowding we were told not to sprint as we crossed the line, which again took some of the joy out of the occasion. But I got a decent photo of me celebrating!
We had to dismount as soon as we crossed the finish line, and as soon as I got off the bike my right knee started complaining. I had to shuffle in my cycling shoes all the way around to near London Bridge before I could get on my way again. The ride back to the car park was a little painful, but I was mostly just very pleased to have finished.
My actual official time was 6 hours 9, which didn’t include the time for my stop. I was ecstatic with this! Sure, there’s no Leith Hill or Box Hill but considering what I’ve been through in the last couple of years this feels like a massive achievement.
I’ve uploaded some photos to Google Photos. No video this year.
I don’t know if I’d do it again. The organisation was nowhere near as good as in previous years, obviously Covid and a new route have made a difference, but it was much better with a bike park and events at the finish where you could relax.
I’ve raised £461 for Samaritans which I’m so pleased about. Without Samaritans I wouldn’t have been here to do this ride, I make a monthly donation but am still happy to have raised this additional funding.