In last month’s column, I let you know that I’d signed up to Prudential Ride London – a 100-mile cycle ride from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the Surrey hills and back to Buckingham Palace. Well I’m delighted to say that I completed the challenge this July and I’m already contemplating signing up for next year!
I was invited to join a team just a few weeks before the event and, being someone who enjoys a challenge, I accepted. After signing on the dotted line, I proceeded to deal with minor details like ‘perhaps I need to get a bike’ and ‘I haven’t cycled in years’.
Luckily, I managed to get hold of a bike, plus some amazing Cafe du Cycliste cycling kit (cafeducycliste.com), so I looked the part. However I can’t deny that there was an element of ‘all the gear, no idea’ in my preparation – I really hadn’t had enough practice with the gears, let alone worked out what I would do in the unlikely event of a puncture, but hey, I’d have to be pretty unlucky…
Fast forward to registration day and I popped along to Excel London to collect my number: number 13. I wondered there and then if this was a good idea after all. I was a total novice with just 30 miles in training under my belt. However everyone laughed it off and assured me that if you wear your number upside down it negates the bad luck.
Race day arrived and I joined my team on the start line: Jonathan Edwards, Shane Williams, John Inverdale and Sam Bailey. When the gun was fired, the fellas whizzed off at full speed, whilst Sam and I made a pact to stick together and enjoy the experience. Sam was joined by a lovely man called Ian, a keen cyclist who was there to help her out should she struggle at any point, whilst I was going it alone.
At mile six, disaster! A puncture. Thankfully, Ian was brilliant and showed me how to change my inner tube. Then three miles later, the same thing happened again! Luckily, I didn’t suffer another, at least not for another 40 miles! I’m relieved to say that really was the last of the day.
It struck between Leith Hill and Box Hill – two steep, never-ending climbs, which felt like an intense workout. I really didn’t mind the exertion going up but I will admit I was truly terrified coming back down.
If you enjoy cycling, or even just like the idea of it, I can highly recommend this event. The atmosphere is fantastic, the crowds are supportive and the camaraderie between the riders is brilliant. I really had fun chatting to Sam and Ian the whole way around.
It was brilliant to clock up some decent mileage on roads that were closed to cars on a day when the sun was shining. Yes, I did feel my lack of training and I was physically drained with ten miles still to go, but knowing that the finish line was near gave me the energy to keep pedalling, not to mention the thought of the crowds at Buckingham Palace.
The best thing was waking up the next day and not being in pain. Having run the marathon a few times, I expected to be quite stiff the morning after, but I was good to go, which was handy as I had a very early start the next day. Lucky at last!