It is that time of year again – RideLondon is back this weekend for its 4th instalment and this year it is bigger than ever. Here is a run down of what is going on for the 3 days and the things we are really looking forward to.
The cycling festival is 3 days this year, spilling over into Friday for a Grand Prix based at the Olympic Velodrome. The Grand Prix will be an afternoon of handcycling including veterans and elite races and youth races on road and BMX.
There will also be a festival zone with exhibitors celebrating all things cycling. This is where my personal highlight is going to be – Danny MacAskill will be there with his trials demo tour. MacAskill is an amazing rider who generally likes riding along the tops of buildings, walls and such – check out his Cascadia video, its amazing – think what he could do with a London commute?
On the Saturday there is the Freecycle in the morning which you can still register for at time of writing (Thursday July 28th), or you can just turn up and join in. This is an altered route from last year so that it can take in the new cycle superhighway along embankment – something to keep in mind if you are doing any non-freecycle riding that day. The route is 8 miles and is a usually ridden at a leisurely pace with a great festive atmosphere. There will also be festival areas on South Bank if you just want to go along and soak up all things cycling and awesome.
Saturday afternoon sees the Brompton World Championships at RideLondon for its second year. This is always a fun event to go and watch. As will all Brompton races, the race has a folded start and dress code. This means you get to witness many people running around in formal attire trying to unfold their bikes under pressure. It is always good entertainment! Some people really race this, and entry is always over subscribed with people traveling from all over the world to take part.
Saturday evening is the women’s pro race, the Classique. This has made the news this year as the prize money is going to be the same as the men’s – something not seen across the gender gap in cycling. All the recent women’s favourites will be there, including Dani King, Hannah Barnes and recent La Course winner Chloe Hosking. It should be a great race and hopefully will mark a step towards parity between mens and women professional cycling.
Sunday starts bright and early for those taking part in the Ride 100 event – 6am at the velodrome to be exact. The Ride 100 course is fast approaching iconic as it travels through central London and then hits the Surrey hills. The finishing straight it down the Mall. If you feel jealous of those taking part this year, the ballot for next year opens on August 8th so you can capitalise on the joy instilled in you during a whole weekend of bike related fun.
New this year is also a shorter 46 mile sportive, aimed at younger riders and those who are newer to road cycling and don’t want to go for the full 100. It’s a nice step towards encouraging more people to ride in events and making them open to less ambitious folk.
The Sunday afternoon sees the culmination of the weekend, the Surrey Classic. This is the men’s professional event and has many of the stars of the pro peloton. A highlight here has got to be Chris Froome who is riding this year, straight off the back of his excellent Tour win. I guess it will be kind of a warm down race to keep the legs going prior to the Olympics for him. There is lots to race for though as the Surrey Classic has the biggest prize pot of any one day race.
Most events on the Saturday and Sunday will be centring around the Mall area. Therefore this is great place to head if you want to watch the racers. If you stick to the St. James’s Park side you can watch the riders and have a nice picnic, if the rain holds off. You can head over to the Prudential website if you want more information about access and good areas for specific events.
Obviously there are going to be a lot of road closures in central London this weekend to accommodate the rides and races. Prudential have all the details on their website if you need to get around for business or other pleasure. I was working for Brompton this time last year and so was around for the whole event on Saturday and it was incredibly busy. There was certainly a great atmosphere though and I am very glad I got to watch many of the rides.
Are you taking part in any of the events? Let everyone know what you are doing below!
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.