On Sunday 4 August, Alan our Project Manager took part in the Prudential RideLondon46 event, here is his story:
The Connections Bus Project was offered places in the 100 mile and 46 mile Prudential RideLondon events and I thought it would be easy to get a cycling enthusiast to take part as a great fundraising opportunity. Little did I know it would be me doing the RideLondon46.
My training started back in January using my heavy crossover leisure bike, with a 12 mile ride averaging 10mph. Not entirely convincing and would mean the event would take over 4 hours to complete. But I persevered and kept up weekly rides increasing my average speed to 12mph using a nice empty route up and down the guided busway.
Then in March my nephew kindly offered to loan me his ultra-lightweight road bike and my average speed came up to 15mph and I was able to start doing 30mile rides. This looked more promising and I might actually finish the event before they reopened the roads!
Sunday 4 August arrived sooner than expected and we (me and my loyal spectator wife, Miriam) left home at 5:15am with the bike packed in the back of the car and headed down to Epping to catch the tube into the Olympic Park. Five or six other riders boarded the tube with us and even more joined in as I cycled across the Olympic Park following the signs for N wave Black. With over 20,000 participants, things had to be early and well organised and I joined my start group of a few hundred cyclists gradually moving through the barriers towards the start line. The start happens in waves and as we moved up to the start line the excitement rose and we voted for our start music (I think it was a Madness track but I had voted for Stone Roses!). A quick reminder of the safety guidelines and we counted down from fifteen, and slowly moved away at around 9am, feet clipped in and ready to go.
The first section of the course takes you on the dual carriage way down to Canary Wharf. This was exhilarating, surrounded by riders on wide roads with no traffic and whizzing down under passes and up the other side. Hoots of joy and laughter in the tunnels as cyclists adapted to their own speed and the mass of people started to spread out.
Canary Wharf was the first planned opportunity to wave to Miriam (and as it turn out the only, as transport around London for spectators was not easy). Stood on a walkway just to the left of the road I spotted her and started waving vigorously, would she see me amongst all these cyclists? But she did and I’m sure I gained a bit of speed.
It was then head down and get into my rhythm, watching out for slower riders and obstacles in front and faster ones appearing from behind. It felt like I was doing a good speed and afterwards I was able to see that I had been averaging 17.5mph. The centre of London went by in a bit of a blur as my concentration had to be on the road, but as Richmond Park approached, things opened up a bit and I was able to enjoy the natural surroundings. The first “hill” is here and with a flashing sign saying maximum 20mph I was wishing I could get up it at that speed! Nothing too bad though and the speed down the other side was great fun.
Kingston-upon-Thames soon approached and with it lots of supporters and charity banners. Their encouragement was most welcome and carried me through the streets and on to Hampton Court Palace. Had to keep my eyes peeled here as this is where the split happens for those doing the 100-mile (not me!). Fortunately stewards with megaphones were shouting out “46-milers to the left”. Having been saved the embarrassment of walking up Box Hill (not sure I could have ridden it after cycling that far) it was back round through Kingston.
Things began to get a bit tougher here as I had covered over 30miles, but did come across someone I had been chatting to on the start line and was able to say a brief “how you doing?” as I went by. The early start 100-milers re-joined the course here, which saw groups of cycling clubs come whizzing past, a little demoralising but also an incentive to keep going. And that was needed as Wimbledon Hill approached. Probably the hardest part of the 46 miles and the last hill before the descent back in to London. I’d been warned about this and gradually dropped down into my lowest gear, kept my head down and my legs rotating. Cheers of encouragement from many spectators was a great help and I was at the top sooner than I expected.
The downhill was glorious, only spoilt slightly by the need for a crossing point at the bottom and me arriving just as they were pausing all riders to all pedestrians to cross. Quick reminder in my head to unclip my feet before stopping (didn’t want to repeat the embarrassment of one of my training rides!) and we were soon on our way again. Over Putney bridge along the river bank, turning past the Houses of Parliament and suddenly there were crowds everywhere.
The Mall was packed and my short ride to the finish line was soon done and I raised a fist of joy as I spotted Miriam.
The rest was pretty mundane but included
- successfully getting off my bike
- collecting my medal and energy bar
- collecting my bag (switching to sandals)
- walking round Green Park to find Miriam
- and a convoluted journey involving walking, three tube lines and a short cycle ride back to the car
My time for the 46 miles? – 2hrs 46m 45s
My average speed for the whole course? – 16.7mph
Money Raised for Connections Bus Project? – Around £1,000
A big thank you to Aaron for the loan of a great bike, to all the family, friends and colleagues that have sponsored me and to my close family for putting up with the extra bike in the house, weekly cycle rides and sweaty Lycra!
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Alan started working for the charity back in 2004 and has just recently celebrated his 50th birthday, so felt it was time to do some exercise. He has been involved in youth work for over 30 years and loves the opportunity to work with young people in an open-access setting, especially in rural isolated villages.
The charity is heavily reliant on donations and fundraising activities, so your support would help us to continue to be the largest provider of this type of youth work in Cambridgeshire.