Taking part in the London Nightrider

Guest post by Gemma Hume, Digital Coms Officer for Practical Action.

In the early hours of Sunday 8th June, 4,000 cyclists will take to London’s streets for Nightrider, an incredible 100km charity bike ride…and I will be one of them. You could be too!

This time last year, I grudgingly agreed to do Nightrider with some of my colleagues. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life! I’m now training for this year’s Nightrider challenge to raise money for Practical Action.

Gem and colleagues

Why should I take part in Nightrider?

Whether you’re a commuter looking to set yourself a challenge and improve your fitness, or an adept cyclist wishing to push yourself further and do something for a good cause, Nightrider is a challenge you won’t forget!

Cycling through the empty streets past London’s landmarks – all lit up in the night sky – and then watching the sun rise over the capital is a magical and surreal experience.

I loved every minute of Nightrider. From the camaraderie of our team and fellow cyclists, to the joy of conquering some challenging hills; the sight of fellow Nightriders battling with rickshaws and drunken Londoners and the high-fives and cheers from passing revellers – it was a total buzz. And, of course, the knowledge that we were doing something that would really make a difference.

I’d encourage anyone to do Nightrider. When your tired legs reach Alexandra Palace at 7am (or earlier if you don’t stop to eat so many snacks) and you’re rewarded with a cup of tea and a bacon butty, it will all seem worth it!

Event details

London landmarks lit up

You need to register. You pay £39 on registration (free if you sign up two friends) and you just need to raise £175 for the charity. The Practical Action team starts at 11.15pm on Saturday 7th June at Alexandra Palace. The requirements are basic: you must be over 18, be a confident cyclist and wear a helmet.

Why should I do it for Practical Action?

  • You’ll be helping Practical Action to help children and families escape life threatening hunger, disease and poverty.
  • You’ll be part of the biggest team entering Nightrider and you’ll get dedicated support from the Practical Action team, who will also be there to cheer you on around the course – that really kept us going through the small hours!
  • You get a free snazzy cycling shirt to wear on the night!

How do I train for Nightrider?

Even if you have a daily 10km commute like me, the prospect of training for a 100km event can still seem daunting. But if you break it down into gradual increases over a period of 10-12 weeks it’s entirely achievable for almost anyone (even me).

I’d recommend training 3-4 times a week. I’ve started with an easy ride of 1-2 hours each time.

You don’t have to complete a 100km ride before the event but it would be wise to do a longer ride of at least 60-70km. It boosted my confidence having completed 70km, knowing that I could have cycled a lot further.

Here is the training plan I’m following:

Sample training plan for nightrider

I’ve also incorporated hills into my training as there are a few challenging hills on the Nightrider route!

Apart from fitness training, here are some other tips to ensure you have a great ride: 

  • Learn to fix a puncture. You’d be surprised how many people couldn’t do this! Take a puncture repair kit, tyre levers, mini-pump and spare inner tubes with you. (Recommend reading: how to stop getting punctures)
  • Test out food and drink you’re planning to consume. I found that certain sports drinks made me feel really sick!
  • Get a couple of bottle cages. I’m glad I did this – it meant I was stocked up with water all the way round.
  • Buy a saddle bag (or handlebar bag). I used a rucksack last year which caused horrendous back pain!
  • Check the weather forecast and prepare clothing accordingly. It gets chilly riding at night. I had a thermal on under my cycling top, a pair of skins (compression tights) and a windproof / waterproof lightweight jacket – perfect!
  • Familiarise yourself with the route. The route is signposted but people have been known to miss the signs and end up on a detour!

So what are you waiting for? Sign up to take part in Nightrider today!

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10 Responses to Taking part in the London Nightrider

  1. JohnO 17/03/2014 at 11:27 am #

    This event will lose some contributors because of one thing. Helmets. They are optional wear in the UK and many people like myself will not be dictated to by event organisers who know nothing about helmet use and are only bothered about the insurance bill ( or whatever).
    To those taking part I send my congratulations and best wishes for involving yourselves in a worthwhile cause.

  2. evil 17/03/2014 at 1:30 pm #

    Don’t want to wear a helmet still want all of the fun, just follow along

  3. Simon 17/03/2014 at 2:41 pm #

    The route has been simplified this year after feedback from last year. There is also an amendment that takes us up The Mall, they couldn’t get permission last year. And the Mile End feed station is relocated to the Olympic Park!! Well excited!!

  4. John Rawlins 17/03/2014 at 3:17 pm #

    If enough people who don’t want to wear a helmet just follow along without paying then the organisers will rethink the ‘you must wear a helmet’ rule in the future.

  5. NA 18/03/2014 at 6:43 am #

    Did this event last year and it was pretty good however the route marking could certainly be a lot better. As for cycling past londons landmarks on on empty streets..yeah right. Central London at midnight on a Saturday is not the place to be if you want empty street.

    For those bleating on about not wearing helmets. No one is forcing you to take part. As for the cheapskates who don’t want to pay the entry fee. The less said the better.

    • Angus 21/03/2014 at 10:18 am #

      Is NA’s post not missing the point made by others. People are choosing not to take part because they have to wear helmets not because they are being cheap. It is a bit strange that helmets are a rule – I wear one but I go on loads of organised rides and it’s generally left up the individual to decide. Seems a bit silly to have this rule if it means the charity loses out.

  6. John 21/03/2014 at 11:51 am #

    I was interested until I saw the ‘raising money for charity’ bit. I’m happy to pay an entrance fee but if you want to do something then I wouldn’t expect people to sponsor me to do it.

  7. Andy 21/03/2014 at 7:43 pm #

    The helmet debate rages on!! I wear one and happily enter any sportive or ride that demands it. You have a choice – wear one or don’t. If you don’t, you can’t enter those types of rides. But you can ride along. It comes down to a risk of being sued in the end, hence the requirement.
    I’m starting late evening from Crystal Palace and really looking forward to it. My first night ride 🙂

  8. L 26/05/2014 at 5:41 pm #

    I’m super scared about this! Even though am confident about my general fitness and cycling in gym, I haven’t done any rides over 20km thus far. Been averaging short rides of 5x20km per week with few hills..

    Hopefully I should be ok on the night :s I’m a bit late now!

  9. Kev W 03/06/2014 at 1:12 pm #

    Can’t wait for this event, my first time. Not too keen on wearing a Nightrider tabbard as I’d prefer to wear my charity’s cycle shirt…unless it’s raining of course. It seemed from the video that everyone was wearing the tabbard

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