Parklife: News editor Ramzy takes on Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100
08:35 13 August 2014
News editor Ramzy Alwakeel tackled a particularly wet Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for Parklife on Sunday. Here’s how he got on.
Factfile: Prudential RideLondon
• The Surrey 100 begins at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and finishes on The Mall
• It happens annually as part of the Prudential RideLondon cycling festival, which was founded as part of the capital’s 2012 Olympic legacy and also includes the FreeCycle, a 10-mile traffic-free circuit of central London, and an elite ride through London and Surrey for pro cyclists. This year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic was won by Brit Adam Blythe
• 24,000 people were expected to take part in this year’s Surrey 100
• Highlights on the route include Richmond Park in south-west London and an extended stint in the Surrey Hills – a designated area of outstanding natural beauty by Natural England
• Registration for the 2015 ride opens on Monday. Go to prudentialridelondon.co.uk
No peaks, it was decreed via megaphone. Hurricane Bertha had excised Box Hill and Leith Hill from our itinerary, downgrading the route from a vertiginous 100 miles to a more horizontal 86.
Initially it seemed a disappointing decision – the two climbs make RideLondon famous – but absolutely no one was questioning it after 90 minutes.
Watching roads turn to rivers, it felt like half the world’s oceans were being visited upon us by some hysterical, aqueous god.
But the joy of riding without cars, pedestrians or traffic lights, and the unflappable, half-drowned spectators who cheered indiscriminately in every town made the day pretty incredible.
I’m not the strongest hill climber but I love a good sprint and it was great to have the time and space to really push myself.
The route winds south from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park through London’s biggest green space, Richmond Park – a sort of pilgrimage spot for cyclists – and on into Esher.
It was there the heavens really opened, but there was a damp catharsis in knowing I couldn’t get any wetter, while the open roads meant I still averaged a better speed than I do on even the driest commute.
Only when you take away the fear of being used as target practice by drivers, I guess, do you learn what you’ve really got under the bonnet.
To give credit to the organisers, we were well provided for. There were toilets and water stations at numerous points along the route, but when I stopped cycling the tunnel vision lifted and I noticed the puddles in my shoes – so really it was best to keep going.
Downing the energy gels while pedalling meant I only had to dismount twice, and I eventually crossed the finish line in five hours and 42 minutes. Not a bad time, but I don’t think I’ll be giving up the day job quite yet.
It felt great to complete the ride, and as we raced the final yards down The Mall of course I fantasised about being shoulder-to-shoulder with Cavendish.
Without the two peaks, this year’s route really can’t be compared with the Surrey 100 proper – but we certainly faced some challenges of our own. So hopefully I’ll be back next year, and maybe I’ll make it up Leith Hill and into triple figures yet.