extreme2015, race reports

London Calling

Yes indeed we are onto the next extreme 2015 event already. Prudential ride London, a 100 mile ride in, about, through the mighty capital. Alison, I and our friend Dan had arrived at the respective start lines of our latest venture after a night enjoying the hotel Pidcock with Rachel and Dan. As always our friends had put us up for the night and made sure we were well looked after. Dan was going to drive us in to London the next morning and then we’d cycle a couple of miles to the start at the Olympic park.

The next day saw us ready and prepared for another installment of uncertainty as Alison and I set out to ride further than we’d ever done. Dan has a background on the bike, having cycled across to Germany in the past so this was going to be a ride in the park for the old boy. He is also the guy who cycled the coast to coast with us recently and had to cycle the last thirty miles with one leg after doing something he didn’t want to do to his leg.

There were approximately 25,000 riders all setting off in different waves from a number of different start points. Dan was separated out from us immediately so our first challenge was to locate him at the nearest stopping point. This was surprisingly easy, we caught up with him with a hundred metres which removed that barrier.

We were all riding road bikes and had even done a decent bit of training to supplement our meager bike skills so felt reasonably comfortable. Also it is well known that the South is flat and a lot of our training had been done Yorkshire style so we reckoned we’d be fine.

The ride was pretty cool for the first couple of hours as we took an easy pace through the bad streets of London, trying to avoid those well known streets of gold (gold being pretty slippy we needed to keep to the tarmac). The first thirty miles were awesome and I was thinking we should kick up the gears when I hit a pothole. Yes the only pothole in London and I hit it. No problems I thought after nearly falling off my bike. A half mile later I hit another obstacles, which felt like a banana skin as my back tyre slide crazily like it was drunk, i’m not letting it go into a pub again. It was in fact my tyre deflating in a rapid style – the pothole had indeed caused me a problem.

I pulled over and resigned myself to fixing it. In my recent training rides I had experienced about 8 punctures so was getting reasonably good at fixing them; in fact on one occasion i’d had three on one ride. The number of punctures had resulted in my purchase of some new puncture resistant tyres – which I was sporting. These babies would see me through the mean streets of London surely. They looked good but apparently were as soft as the locals.

I was just flinging the bike about when I was approached by a couple who had a standing pump; the guy hadn’t been able to get into the event but as a local decided to hang about with a pump to help out poor saps like me. He even gave some decent advice on fixing the tyre which I appreciated. I thanked him and set off.

Alison resisted rolling her eyes too much; she is getting a little tired of my incessant need to cycle over thorns, glass, pot holes and large cabbages. Couldn’t I avoid something for the love of god. I believe she muttered something to Thor! (probably Thor Hushovd the well know Norwegian cyclist who is widely reconfigured as the greatest Norwegian cyclist of all time) I may have misunderstood.

Hitting the road again we pushed on; before long we were out of London and into the country, riding through lanes and small villages – no idea they had those down south – maybe they were imported for the event. We eventually reached a few hills. It was great to fly past the locals as they struggled to get up these little fellas. I felt great as I rolled over the tops and thought “when is the hill going to start”. Yorkshire rocks I thought as I realised that yes I can deal with hills. Clearly the amount of work we’ve done leading up to Cortina and starting way back at the beginning of the year in Anglesey was paying off.

So we kept riding; in Alisons case – she didn’t stop even when Dan and I were waiting; “those boys are cissy’s” she probably thought as she plowed through the cyclists in front her – her bell was binging and fellow riders were desperately trying to avoid being chewed up by her mean machine. Ali was doing some big numbers and she didn’t want to stop…

Meanwhile we were wondering where she was; eventually we managed to get through to her on the trusty mobile; she was three miles up the road…

The water stops and food stops got skipped – either the food stop didn’t have food because they’d run out after the first six people turned up (they decided they didn’t want to waste any food) or we didn’t stop. It was thus by mile 70 I was getting a cranky. Some might say I had a bit of a diva moment.

After Dan and Alison made sure I had some food and I had stopped stomping my foot we jumped on our trusty steads again and pushed on. Mile after flat mile with only the occasional bump we rode; the wheels turned; the sweat steamed; gasps from the crowds as we flew crazily around corners at breakneck speed. Man we were amazing. Flying through Richmond park and under the Kingston tunnel we were met with a wall of sound. It was awesome as the crowd screamed. I was loving the appreciative crowd; just as on the other side of the road the Pro bikers rode past in the opposite direction. Sigh.

Still the pace was good and before long we were cruising through Westminster to see Rachel, Fran and Emily cheering us on. Then the short stretch along the mall and the finish line.

Awesome – it was great. We met up with the Girls and had some food and relaxed for an hour before jumping on our bikes to ride 8 miles back to our car and our journey back to St Albans.

The last mile to the car saw me get another puncture.

Man the look I got from Ali and Dan…

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