RideLondon-Surrey 100: Our top tips and your place in the 2014 event

Nils at finish line of RideLondon

Max and Nils were two of the lucky cyclists to take part in the first ever Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 bike ride last year. Having completed this amazing challenge, they wanted to share some of their top tips, and to let you know how you can still get your place in this event.

RideLondon is an Olympic legacy cycling event which takes place 10th August 2014 and gives you the chance to have free reign over the roads of London and Surrey as it’s a completely closed road 100 mile bike ride. Starting at the Olympic park, the route heads through the traffic-free streets of London, out into the hills and countryside of Surrey, and finishes in front of cheering crowds along the Mall.

As well as the professional organisation of the ride, a key focus for the organisers is helping to raise money for charity. When we took part last year we raised money for Action on Hearing Loss.

Nils, ‘I have had tinnitus on and off over the last four years, it comes in many forms, mostly described as a high pitch ringing sound in the ear, but for me it is more like the sound of an engine from a parked truck. Cycling and exercise really help me manage this, so as someone who loves cycling I decided to do this event for the charity Action on Hearing Loss. Cycling for Action on Hearing Loss was an extremely rewarding experience with a brilliant team to support you. If you’re interested in cycling in this event, Action on Hearing Loss has a limited number of places available for £25. You can sign up online or find out more by visiting www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/ride

Max and Nils, ‘We’ve put some of our top tips below – we hope you find them useful!’

Training:

  1. Find a training buddy or group to go on regular training rides with, it will help motivate you and make the training more enjoyable too
  2. If you’re not used to riding long distances, build up time on your bike. Aim to go out for at least 5 hour stretches at the weekend to build up your stamina
  3. Hill climbing is important but for this ride actually going out on a training ride round Surrey, and going up Box Hill and Leigh hill a couple of times will really help. If you’ve seen the hill and cycled it you’ll know how to pace yourself on the day.
  4. Gels, bars, nuts, jelly babies; try out different things on your training rides to figure out what you like and will best suit you for the ride itself

Top tips for the day:

  1. Plan your route to the start line. We decided to take taxis to the start line to ensure we got there on time and reserved our energy for the ride.
  2. Don’t get too caught up in the speed and excitement of the day at the beginning – make sure you pace yourself for the first 40 miles or so, otherwise you’ll leave yourself puffed out.
  3. If you’re looking for a fast time, try and find a group to cycle with so you can slipstream and save your energy this way. If you’re just looking to complete the ride – go at your own pace.
  4. If you have enough food on you, skip the feeding station and plan your ride around the water stops as these are less congested.
  5. Make sure you pack a pump, spare inner tubes and get a full bike service before the ride

Highlights:

Max: ‘Cycling through London with no traffic lights and no cars to negotiate is such a one-off opportunity. And the community spirit is incredible as all the people come out of their houses onto the streets through Surrey, Kingston-on-Thames and London to cheer you on, which makes you feel like some sort of Olympic pro’.

Nils: ‘Overtaking Max on Box hill was a highlight for me! And normally on Box Hill and other areas of Surrey you can get really held up, but on this ride you just fly through. Also cycling back into London, over Putney bridge and towards Houses of Parliament towards the finish line is amazing, it doesn’t matter what type of cyclist you are, the feeling when people are cheering you over the finish line is worth the 100 miles it took to get there’

Get your place for £25 today

If you are looking for a place in Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, taking place 10th August 2014, the charity Action on Hearing Loss has places for just £25. Visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/ride or call 0207 296 8172 to sign up and find out more.

London Cyclist Photo_Martin Max and Nils

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10 Responses to RideLondon-Surrey 100: Our top tips and your place in the 2014 event

  1. Mik 10/04/2014 at 9:27 am #

    Thanks for this article, sometimes it feels like this blog is ‘too cool’ for the more mainstream cycling stuff that happens in and around London and as someone who has got a place in the 2014 event already (and is all nervous, as a daily commuter this will be my first sportive and the first reason I’ll have to start riding really long days) it’s really helpful to read about people who’ve experienced it.

    I’d love to know how crowded the roads felt, I’m actually more worried about cycling with a lot of other bikes about than I am about the distance. My commute is in to Greenwich so I don’t spend a lot of time around other cyclists and tend to find that I’m much more likely to ride like a moron when I get in that sort of situation.

    • Sean Kelly 11/04/2014 at 4:14 pm #

      Mik, I’d recommend doing the BHF London to Brighton ride (if it’s not sold out) or something of that length, to experience riding with throngs of other cyclists. It can be a bit like diving in at the deep end, as in the early stage of leaving London the riders are fairly bunched up. My experience of Ride London last year is that it’s more free-flowing, with fewer cyclist ‘clots’.

      The general pace of the London to Brighton ride is also certainly slower than Ride London, so in that sense it’d be a nice entry sportive. The Ride London organisers favoured experienced cyclists (last year anyway) with shorter predicted completion times so that the roads would clear in time for the pro race. But of course, whatever the general pace, the pace you ride will be totally up to you.

    • Kate 13/04/2014 at 3:40 pm #

      +1 for doing a training sportive ride but I’d suggest something like the FT London Cycle because it takes in Box Hill as part of the route (Leith Hill is actually steeper but riding BoxHill ticks one of the list and you won’t be so nervous of it – it’s actually a lovely climb).

      BHF London-Brighton can get a bit slow and congested I have heard, though others may disagree. But of course BHF is for a good cause.

      Last year I did the medium route of the London-Cycle (100km) as training for RL and it was a great introduction to an organised group ride/sportive. Although RL was much faster because of the lack of motor traffic/lights and the pace was kind of infectious :)

      The only I found RL to be congested was Leith Hill because the road is quite narrow and a lot of people walk it or just stop with no warning and you have nowhere else to move.

      I hadn’t done a huge amount of group riding before RL100 but really you just need to be very aware of those around you – always remember to shoulder check and signal and communicate with fellow riders. All of which should be second nature as a commuter anyway.

      You will have an awesome day, enjoy it :)

      • Mik 14/04/2014 at 10:44 am #

        Thanks for the replies, really helpful.

        I’d definitely got at least one sportive prior to it as part of the plan, was considering one of the Wiggle ones, but will look at these two as options. My LBS does Sunday group rides once a month, I’m going to get on those as well, it’s all experience, and free experience at that.

        I’m hoping to give Box Hill and Leith Hill a go prior to the event anyway, just so I can turn them from mythical climbs to something that I can equate to a nearby hill, I live on the Medway valley so have North Downs climbs and fairly steep/long valley climbs on my training routes for practice.

        I got the entry with a predicted time of 6 hours 20, this seems realistic (I commute at around 15-16 mph average, add distance, take away stops for traffic plus guesstimate for riding the new bike with drops rather than the hybrid commuter).

        I do the looking out for stuff, but there’s not really much call for warning other cyclists about it. As I say, my commute is in to Greenwich so it’s pretty quiet bike wise (I guess I see 5-10 other cycles each way and we very rarely end up matching pace for very long if we’re going the same direction). I was riding with friends at the weekend who did the pointing out pot holes thing and aside from them barely registering on my pot hole scale it was all very novel (‘oh, I’ve read about this!’) but the sort of thing I need to get more used to. The being aware of the surroundings thing as a commuter is all good, it’s the wanting to ride in my own space bit I need to work on. Bikes sitting within a wheel of me behind or beside unsettle me a bit and I end up making bad decisions because of it.

        I’m sure it’ll be a great day and I know all of the worries will have gone by then, I just tend to overthink things in the lead up :-)

        • Kate 16/04/2014 at 9:58 pm #

          Mik, you’ll be fine esp if you do some lbs group rides too.

          Because the route is very much on wide roads to start and of course you’ll have the whole width of the road, there is quite a lot of room to manoeuvre about.

          I think there were a couple of times when a small club group passed me quite closely and very quickly which startled me a bit but you just need to hold your line and let them get on with it. for the most part other riders give you space or warn you they are on your right or left. I just tended to stay in the same line on the road and cycle straight unless I had to pass someone. Although sometime tucking myself in behind others to draft them :)

          I predicted 7 hours and finished in 6.14. Most finished quicker than they thought. Maybe you’ll do a sub 6 hours? Good luck

  2. Mik 17/04/2014 at 10:57 am #

    I’m presuming the big difference to average speed will be the closed roads. I hadn’t thought about how wide they are, especially at the beginning when everyone is starting to string out.

    At the moment I’m working on the idea that finishing will feel like an achievement, finishing in 6:20 will feel like success and anything faster than that is icing on the cake.

    Here’s an extra question which will prove how much of a bike event commuter noob I am.

    What happens about bike security?

    Currently my bike is either locked in my house, or locked in a locked room at work (I consider myself just sufficiently paranoid). How do people, especially when not riding as part of a group, deal with leaving bikes at the start, finish and more importantly water and loo breaks during the event?

  3. Kate 17/04/2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Yeah security is an issue but from what I could tell most people (including me) risked it without taking a lock. The only time I left my bike unattended was popping into one to the portaloos! so I just left it outside and went really quickly :)

    I didn’t stop at any of the big rest stops but the smaller feed stations had bike racks. My bike is nice but nowhere near as expensive as some of the others so I went with the idea that thieves are more likely to take one of the hundreds of other bikes than mine.

    You can buy tiny cable locks now – search for Abus combiflex on Wiggle. It’s light and about the same size as a mobile phone. The cable is really thin and wouldn’t take much to cut through it if someone has the right tools but it certainly stops someone from just walking/riding off with it. Maybe a good compromise for a 5 min stop. I did take mine with me on the ride but I didn’t use it to save time. Naive perhaps but it worked out ok :)

    If you are with people it’s not such an issue – you can also ask honest looking spectators or other cyclists to keep an eye on it.

    Worth mentioning that Excel where you register and Green Park where you finish provides a secure bike park (you hand over your bike and get a ticket to reclaim). It’s the ride itself that gets a bit risky.

  4. Mik 17/04/2014 at 1:16 pm #

    Among the various bike paraphernalia we’ve ended up with is a bright green knog Party Frank lock which I wouldn’t normally trust as security. We use it along with a long cord computer lock and the classic padlock through the disc when we do family leisure rides and the bikes are left in sight but not next to us when we’re eating. It’s light and well padded for carrying so might carry it.

    That or I could swap the dutch rear lock we have on the ‘cheap beater’ on to it, it’s a lot heavier, but it attaches to the bike and is ridiculously quick to use. Doesn’t attach the bike to anything, but I guess someone carrying an obviously locked bike away might get some attention.

    I kind of hate cycling that ‘not having my bike stolen’ is right near the top of my list of worries about this :-/ (maybe that should be city cycling)

  5. Ricky 19/04/2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Simple solution when leaving your bike to go to the loo without a lock. Just take the front wheel with you to the loo.

  6. Mark 25/04/2014 at 5:36 pm #

    SHAMELESS APPEAL.

    On the subject of getting a place, I have a ride supporting the National Autistic Society. I was unsuccessful in the general ballot. They have a number of places left and require that you raise £700 sponsorship as well as pay the entry fee. With social facetube and tweeter stuff life is a lot easier finding sponsors than it used to be.

    I chose NAS because my son, Russell, had aspergers, a form of autism. Sadly he died last year aged 20 so I’m also riding in his memory as a tribute to the difficulties he worked to overcome.

    It’s surprising the number of people who are touched by autism and it’s been a sobering feeling getting stories from my friends of people they know who are affected.

    Please will you avid readers of London Cyclist support me in my mission to support the National Autistic Society and those people and their families who live with autism by sponsoring me at http://www.justgiving.com/markdixoncycling or txt PLRS60 to 70070

    Any amount will be gratefully received.

    Thanks and see you in London in August.

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