Parklife: Ramzy cycles up Box Hill in training for Prudential RideLondon
13:08 04 August 2014
News editor Ramzy Alwakeel is tackling the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for Parklife this Sunday. The last instalment of his training diary sees him facing his gremlins and climbing Box Hill.
I was starting to think Box Hill was cursed.
I first tried to climb it back in May. On that trip I made it 200 metres past the front door before getting stuck in my then-unfamiliar clip-in pedals and crashing to the ground.
Not only did I have to be rescued by a park ranger who couldn’t understand why I didn’t just step away from the bike and stand up, but I bent my derailleur hanger in the process, nearly writing off the entire frame, and so that was the end of that trip.
On my next attempt I made it all the way to Hackney before my ride partner skidded over in an oil spill and fractured his elbow.
With days to go, I knew I had to nail the infamous 120-metre ascent at least once without injury or I’d be too scared to even attempt Sunday’s sportive.
We set off at 7.30am and by 9 we were in Richmond Park. For the first 20 or 30 miles I kept up easily with the group – all of whom work in a bike shop, by the way, so I thought I was doing all right.
That all changed when things got bumpy. Box Hill isn’t the only peak on RideLondon, it turns out, and before we even got to the big one I was ready to call it a day.
The group quickly left me behind but in the end I did make it up the climb and we enjoyed some pretty spectacular views across Surrey, as well as a huge number of calories in a very short space of time.
I reckon I can do it faster on Sunday – I played it safe because it was unfamiliar, but now I know what I’m up against I might try it in a higher gear.
The journey home was mostly descent and we found ourselves following the RideLondon route for much of the way – with the caveat that no one attempted Leith Hill, supposedly the biggest challenge in the whole race. By the time I got back to Walthamstow I’d done a little over 90 miles.
It took about six hours and 45 minutes – that’s cycling time, not including all the stops – so I’m fairly confident I’ll finish Sunday’s race inside the mandatory nine-hour window.
That, or I’ll get struck by lightning before I’ve even left the house. You never know with curses.