Are you looking for some advice for RideLondon? Here are my top tips on how to prepare for a 100-mile cycling event like no other – get ready for one of the toughest challenges out there!
I started crying around mile 83.
I was exhausted, cold and wet after cycling in the wind and rain for six hours straight, and I was all alone as I had lost my two friends for the past 10 miles.
I’m not going to lie, miles 71 to 83 were very, very dark miles. My biggest fear was I had no idea where the final 17 miles to the finish line were going to come from. I think that was the moment I realised I might not compete the 100-mile event. Quitting wasn’t an option though.
Then I remembered why I was doing RideLondon – to challenge myself, to push my own personal physical boundaries. I wanted to put myself in this exact position to see if I had the mental aptitude to actually ride 100 miles.
Once I remembered that, the smile slowly crept back to my face. Who cares if it was windy and raining – if this was to be the only time I attempted RideLondon, I wanted to enjoy it.
Turns out riding 100 miles is every bit as challenging and exhilarating as it sounds.
Did I enjoy it? Massively. Would I do it again? Surprisingly, yes. There really is no other event like it.
After completing RideLondon as a complete novice – I promise you that I am no cyclist – these are all my advice and top tips for taking on the challenge yourself. Keep reading on because there’s lots of RideLondon advice in this post!
What is RideLondon?
RideLondon is one of the biggest and most popular cycling events in the world.
The RideLondon festival started as the legacy from the London 2012 Olympic road race (which I actually watched in Putney), and each year it seems to be getting bigger and bigger.
This year nearly 27,000 people completed the 100-mile course but there are a number of shorter events too. Apparently over 100,000 people attend the whole weekend so it’s a huge event.
I always describe it as the London Marathon of the cycling world. Just with a lot more lycra!
Preparing for RideLondon: Entering the ballot
At the beginning of the year I wrote all about how I wanted to challenge myself a lot more in life.
One of the things I was desperate to do was the London Marathon but unfortunately I didn’t get a place. However, when Visit London offered me a place in RideLondon, I jumped at the chance. If anything, I thought riding 100 miles would be harder than a marathon, so I was happy.
I was lucky to be representing Visit London, but the majority of people applying for a place do so via the ballot or on behalf of a charity (of which you need to raise a certain amount of money).
Buying a bike and other equipment
One of the reasons why I was so keen on running a marathon is it doesn’t take much equipment to do it – a good pair of shoes and you’re basically good to go. Cycling on the other hand requires quite a few things.
Was I into cycling before RideLondon? No. I didn’t even have a bike. In fact, I think I’d only ridden a road/race bike twice before, so I wasn’t exactly the best prepared for the event.
After weeks of unsuccessfully trying to source a bike from a number of locations, I finally accepted my fate and bought the cheapest bike possible – the Carrera Zelos for £220. Yes, you can buy a road bike for £220. Saying that though, my bike only has 14 gears, something I found to my detriment halfway up Leith Hill. If you’re looking at doing this on the cheap then bare that in mind!
For the rest of my cycling gear I went to Sports Direct. This is how much everything cost:
- Carrera Zelos – £220 (reduced in a sale from Halfords)
- Shimano clipless pedals with cleats – £29
- Muddyfox cycling shoes – £30
- 2 x Muddyfox cycling shorts – £14
- Muddyfox race jersey – £15
- Muddyfox training jersey – £6
- 2 x water bottles and cages – £12
All in all, I managed to kit out my brand new bike for a 100 mile event for £326. Forget what people tell you – cycling doesn’t have to be expensive.
Training for RideLondon
One of the things I really liked about RideLondon was all the information they send through to you.
In my welcome pack there was a comprehensive training schedule with a week by week guide on what you should be doing.
It’s recommended you start training 10-8 weeks before the event. I started about 6 weeks before with trips to Italy, the Netherlands and the States in-between. Not exactly the perfect preparation for an event like this!
I found riding on the road really difficult. It’s so hard getting any speed up and I was constantly worrying about cars.
That’s why my training track (along with everyone else) was Richmond Park.
A complete loop around Richmond Park is 10 kms (6 miles), so perfect for consistent speeds and training. There are even a few small hills in there as well to start building up muscle mass.
Training for an event like RideLondon takes a huge amount of time and dedication. So I wasn’t losing a large chunk of the day or the evenings, I found waking up at 6am and going for a two-hour cycle in the morning best. Then I could start my day with training and still be at my desk at 9am.
Make sure you do at least one big ride
The best piece of advice someone told me to prepare for RideLondon was to go on at BIG cycle, around 50-70 miles.
Most training days I was doing 30 miles, so well short of what I needed. The weekend before RideLondon I set aside a day to cycle to Windsor Castle and I was so glad I did.
Even though I managed just short of 70 miles, I was absolutely shattered at the end of it I could barely move. Obviously the training was great, but more importantly it taught me that I needed to eat more on a long ride. I burnt over 3,500 calories that day and I didn’t take in anywhere near that amount, so it’s no wonder I was so exhausted. Hitting the wall like that really helped me prepare for RideLondon though.
Once you’re done with training, it’s best to rest a few days before RideLondon to let your legs recover.
Also, try and book your bike in for a checkup to see if everything’s okay with it. You want it to be in the best condition possible.
Getting to RideLondon
RideLondon starts from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. Due to the nature of the event people start setting off at 05:45, so getting there can be extremely difficult.
I planned to arrive at 06:20. As it was 9 miles from where I live, I didn’t want to cycle for obvious reasons (100 is enough thank you!)
That left me getting an Uber or the Underground.
Even though you’re not supposed to have bikes on the Underground, I found out you can if you take the front wheel off. A very useful tip if you’re looking at getting public transport to RideLondon!
RideLondon Advice – top tips for RideLondon:
- Check your brakes are in good condition and that your tyres are pumped up to 85-95psi.
- Lay out all your clothing and pack your bags the night before. It will give you peace of mind.
- Go to bed early. I probably only got 2 or 3 hours sleep and it was not enough. Don’t be like me.
- Don’t race off at the start. You really need to pace yourself for the first 20 miles so you’ve got enough in the tank towards the end.
- Don’t forget a rain jacket! Obviously I was so grateful I packed mine. Made a huge different to my ride.
- Bring padded gloves. I only discovered padded gloves the week before RideLondon but they really do make such a difference.
- Bring a battery pack too. I used up all my battery tracking my ride so needed the extra charge towards the end.
- Take a spare inner tube and puncture repair kit. Luckily, I didn’t need mine, but I was so many punctures along the route. And one of my friends got a puncture on mile 91 so it can happen at any time!
- Eat and drink as much as you can at the food stations. They are kinda manic with hundreds of people, but there is food there so make sure you grab whatever you can.
- If you can, ride with friends (or make a few friends online beforehand). I genuinely don’t think I would’ve been able to complete RideLondon if I wasn’t riding with my friends – we all really pulled each other along when we were feeling low.
- Make sure you let your family and friends know your rider number beforehand. It gave me a huge amount of confidence knowing my family were tracking me along the route.
- Don’t worry about Box Hill – it’s much easier than people make it out to be. Leith Hill and Wimbledon Hill are the ones you need to worry about!
- Enjoy it! Most importantly, just enjoy the ride!
My own personal advice for RideLondon
Reading this post about RideLondon you can probably tell that I wasn’t very prepared for it. I didn’t exactly have the best training schedule nor the best bike. But do you know what? I DID IT!
That’s the whole point. You don’t always need to be super fit or have the best equipment to do an event like RideLondon. In fact, the hardest thing is having the courage to sign up in the first place.
I genuinely loved (nearly) every second of RideLondon and I am so proud that I managed to complete the 100 miles. It really is an event like no other and so much fun to be a part of.
Hopefully you will have found some of this advice useful and if you’re inspired to sign up for RideLondon next year then good luck – I’ll see you on the start line!
Are you about to attempt RideLondon for the first time? Or, if you’ve already done it, what advice would you give to others? Let me know in the comments below!
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