Thursday, 6 February 2014

Ride London 100 2014 - on the trail of Boris

It's official. My 'Congratulations' magazine arrived this week. In six months time I'm going to be riding 100 miles through London and Surrey, doing my best to evade the sweepers scooping-up slower riders.
My husband and I visited London in January and saw some of the places I'll be riding through. It felt impossible, unreal, seeing all the traffic streaming past, to think I could be using those roads. And The Mall!
I'm looking for a tiara that will fit over my cycling helmet, so that I can feel properly dressed when I ride along the driveway to the palace.
So I'm excited, definitely but also...nervous. Really nervous. The kind that gives me butterflies in my stomach and threatens a migraine before nightfall. I'm worried that I'll be last. That I won't make it inside the all-important nine hours. That I'll be the oldest rider. That everyone else will be a 'proper' cyclist who will snort in derision as they pass a small, determined figure muttering "If Boris can do it" like an incantation.
Because at the moment, the only thing calming my fears is a picture of the Mayor of London on my desktop. I should make clear here, that the desktop I am talking about is the one on my PC. I haven't got a framed picture of Boris on my desk, which I dust every morning. That would be weird.
No, what I've got is a picture of him on his bike, tackling the route last year.
Now to be blunt, Boris does not appear to be a natural cyclist. He's no blond Bradley. He looks like someone feeling the burn. And probably, the saddle. And he finished. He was home inside nine hours and only slightly perturbed by the insults hurled in his direction by his fellow riders.
I know that tens of thousands of cyclists didn't get in to the event, all of them probably much better riders than me. I just have to remember the training I've already done, the times I've been out in driving rain and hail. This week I rode through floods so deep that my feet were under water. On Christmas Day I pretended not to notice the appalled look on my husband's face as I came downstairs in Lycra and confessed I was going out on the bike before dinner.
I've done the miles and I'll keep doing the miles. And on that day in August, although I might have more resemblance to Boris than to those riders on the cover of the magazine (look at them - apart from anything else, they've all got suicide pedals!), I hope I'll have earned my place among them.
It was London 2012 that inspired me to start cycling. It's London in 2014 that will present my personal Olympic challenge. So if you are in the capital towards the very end of the event, wait a while. I'll be making for the Mall and last or not, it will be the proudest moment of my life.

12 comments:

  1. Congratulations.

    For the second year running I have been unsuccessful :-(

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    1. Oh Toby, I'm so sorry.

      I don't know whether you would be interested but someone I got to know through the Ride London Facebook page (he answered my question, then kept on answering questions until eventually we became friends) is doing a 'dry-run' of the whole route on June 8. I originally asked him if he'd help me tackle some of the hills on the route and it's grown to be the whole route (I am NOT doing all of it!) and anyone who wants to join. He's a ride leader and lives in London, so knows the route well. Let me know if you fancy tackling that - you could no doubt do the whole thing!

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    2. I'll get in one day I'm sure. I'm interested in more details of the ride on June 8.

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    3. Hi Toby put the date in your diary and as soon as I know times and meeting places I will let you know. I plan to join in Surrey, though promise not to do that on the day of the actual event.

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  2. Replies
    1. I promise pictures.

      I expect that people might confuse me with the Queen.

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  3. Congratulations on getting in! I was also inspired by 2013, and I was fortunate enough to ride last year (I got a place through UNICEF) and I'm doing it again last year. I did a semi-reasonable level of training, but I was not prepared enough on the day. I over-did it early on, and then bonked between miles 40-65, and then the end felt like hell! But I did it! 7h 35 mins, which was much slower than I thought I could achieve. This year I'm committing more to training and have a lot of long rides lined up. I want to knock at least an hour off of my time this year.

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  4. Thanks Lisa. Do you mean you started cycling last year and did the Ride London the same year? If so, consider me officially gobsmacked! Do they give you a starting time based on your predicted time? If so, will I start first or last? Re your preparation, you might also be interested in the dry-run of the route on 8 June? See my reply to Toby above. I'm not planning to do the Lindon bit on June 8 (I am fortunate to have only limited experience of traffic and almost none of roundabouts) but am planning to get me and the bike to Surrey to take the fear out of the hills.

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  5. Well done for getting a place, I missed out. I look forward to reading about how well your training is going.

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    1. Thank-you Dave. I keep meeting people who tried and didn't get a place. It makes it even more important that I train enough to do the distance within the cut-off time. Otherwise, I've wasted a place that you could have had!

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  6. I have the same Boris photo acting as my inspiration! :-) I must admit I'm slightly terrified by the 100 miles, and the climbs at the 55-60 miles mark! Did a short, but very steep ride yesterday in the Shropshire Hills and survived (just need to add 70 miles to the distance and I'm there!). I missed out on a place originally, but have got one through the Scope To charity, who I'll be raising money for :-)
    John.

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    1. Hi John, I love the idea that there are nervous cyclists all over the country looking at the same picture of Boris and thinking "I've GOT to be fitter than that!" Have you seen the Route 66 in Newport? It's in May and I am using it as part of my preparation. I did the Route 33 last year, which was my first organised ride and it was brilliant. Very friendly, well sign-posted and some tractor trailers piled high with bananas along the route! Moderately hilly but then, it's in Shropshire, so that's a given. Here's the link if you are interested: http://www.novaraiders.org.uk/route66

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