Sunday 10th August was a date that should have been a day where the sun was shining and I enjoyed a ride round London and Surrey on closed roads, enjoying the weather and scenery.
However, the reality was somewhat different. The rain came in and it stayed and came down so hard it was almost biblical in proportions. I have cycled in rain before, but I have never seen anything like it it was ridiculous.
Back to the event, for me this was a first as I didn’t do this last year and so the whole set up was a bit different to normal races or sportives.
First up, to collect my number meant a trip to the Expo, an idea they use at the London marathon and Ironman events to. The actual expo was ok to wonder round for a while, and yes I did buy something. I took the opportunity to replace my summer waterproof jacket as the existing one had a hole in it. Numbers etc collected, now just to do the event.
I had booked a car park space at Lea Valley Ice centre as on paper it looked the easiest to get to and home from, and this was true to a point. Certainly easy to get to in the morning, but getting out wasn’t great, 45 minutes to go a couple of miles, London traffic I guess.
Riding to the start from the car park was easy, just follow the signs, in fact there was a group of us and so we all went down together.
Once at the start pen, I found Gary and we waited to start. Gary did this ride for charity having raised a large amount of money for Macmillan Cancer charity.
Once we started the ride through London was really enjoyable, the sight of the poppies at the Tower of London was certainly impressive. Going the wrong way through a tunnel was a weird experience, I kept waiting for a car to appear!
The rain started just as went went past a Thames Water place near Walton, ironic really! Unfortunately the rain never really stopped until near the end, and how it rained!
Due to the predicted weather, the organisers removed the climbs of Box Hill and Leith Hill in the interests of safety. To be fair, whilst I would have love to have done the climbs it was the right decision to remove the descents which could have proved difficult for some.
Coming back into London was great, seeing the sights and not having to dodge traffic, and this all lead to the Mall. It was here that Gary stopped to greet his family and I could not resist the opportunity to do a Cavendish style sprint down the Mall, I loved that bit.
Once over the line, I was given a medal that weighs a tonnes and a goodie bag, and then it was the next challenge, find my car.
Now, this is where I am going to say I think the organisers let the riders down, I would imagine I am like many of the riders who don’t live in London and don’t know the roads that well. So, getting from the Mall back to Lea Valley, was a journey done following google maps, this meant effectively riding one handed through London following the directions. Would it have been too much to have some signs to direct you to one of the many car parks they used?
The day was a long one, I got up at 4am and got home just before 4pm, I had cycled over 100 miles, including to and from the car park, got soaked had some laughs.
There is one final thing to mention, and that is the people who stood on the sides supporting, they were stood there cheering and clapping in the pouring rain. To the charity supporters and the other people I tip my hat to you, you were truly amazing!
Will I look to do this event next year? I doubt it, I don’t see the point of repeating it, I can go and ride the missing hills anytime and I wouldn’t fancy my chances of a ballot place again, who could be lucky twice?
In conclusion, a great day, spent with a good guy in Gary riding my bike and despite the rain it was fun. What more could I ask for?