Parklife: Ramzy cycles up Box Hill in training for Prudential RideLondon
- Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images
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.
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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.
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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.