So... you got into Ride London 2020? This news will have left you feeling one of two ways. If you're a regular cyclist, a confirmed MAMIL, or someone who throws themselves into challenges like this all the time, you're probably quite excited. If you're new to cycling, or you know, a normal person, then you might be bricking it right about now!
Well, we are here to ease your worried minds, and to help you to train for Ride London. Because having a great big 100 mile shadow loom over your entire summer can be a bit of a bummer if you let it, and you really don't need to. Yes it will be difficult, and it's very easy for us to tell you not to worry about it*, but with a few helpful tips and the right training, you will be ready for Ride London.
*The reason we can say don't worry about it is we've watched hundreds of very beginner cyclists go from 0 to 100 miles before Ride London. Joining us as complete beginners, going on to complete the ride in 6-8 hours. Our favourite is Mel (below), who couldn't even ride a bike in March 2018, and went on complete Ride London that July in 6.5 hours. Believe us, It can be done!
1. Join a group or club
We would say that, right? However, it really is the best advice you could possibly get if you have to train for a cycling event. If you find and join the right group, you will gain knowledge, confidence on the road and in a group, workout buddies and of course fitness and stamina. Not only that, but you'll explore routes and areas you would never have done on your own, and you'll ride father and higher too.
If you're an experienced rider, then most groups will work for you. If you're a beginner cyclist then the 'right' group will be one that's very open to new and beginner members, and has 'no drop rides', meaning they'll look after all riders. You may need to try a few, but they are out there.
2. Don't panic, but also don't wait to start training
There are two schools of thought here - some people will go mad and start trying to ride further and faster than they ever have done before, trying to get to 100 miles as quickly as possible. They'll also likely rush out and start buying all the kit they can get their hands on, whether they need it or not. The second school will try to ignore the 100 mile elephant in the room, procrastinate with non cycling related thoughts, and wait until the last minute before trying to cram everything into the last month. How you approached your school exams may determine which camp you fall into.
As you've probably guessed already, somewhere in the middle of the two schools is just about right. You don't need to start panicking (you have got a long time to train), but why wait to get started? Giving yourself a gentle start, before steadily building your miles and intensity is a great way to start. It might not fell like it, but improvements will come fast if you stick at it, so don't panic.
3. Start researching the route
New cyclists often take the 'don't tell me I don't want to know' approach to a ride or route. Especially with the hills; because most people are terrified of hills. However this is 100% the wrong approach. There's a reason why pro cycling teams will spend ages analysing every detail of a route, because it helps them to plan their ride. Especially the hills.
Knowing when a hill comes in the route means you know when to eat and drink to prepare for it. Knowing how long said hill is will determine how hard you push, or if you need to save something for future hills. Being able to recce the climbs (or similar length ones) will mean that you know what to expect on the day. It gives you a huge mental edge knowing you've been there before. So start researching like a pro, and it'll help you to ride like one!
4. Climb Climb Climb!
Because if we're honest, that's what we're all worried about isn't? 100 miles is daunting, but if it was a pan flat ride, you'd probably be feeling a lot more positive, right? To put it bluntly, Ride London is not flat, and the sooner you get on board with that the better. And you may never love hills, but in order to take on Ride London you need to make a kind of agreement with them. Read our top climbing tips to help you get better at climbing.
Hill reps are the best way to get better at hills, and getting better at hills is the key to unlocking Ride London. Find a hill near you that replicates one of the Ride London hills, and go up and down it as many times as you can. Try and increase the number of reps and intensity you can do over time (Strava segments are your friend here). Better than that, join a cycling group and climb with others. They'll make you better than you ever could be on your own, and you'll have others to share the suffering with. It makes a big difference.
5. Enter a 'warm up' event
It is always a good idea to enter an 'in-between' event to warm up for Ride London. You can test out your kit in a live setting, you will get a sense of what it's like to prepare for an event and it gives you a mid-way training target to aim for. If Ride London 2020 is on the 16th August, an event of 50-80 miles in around May or June would be perfect.
There are loads of great UK sportives and events every weekend, so finding one won't be difficult. Check out the British Cycling sportives list or UK Cycling Events and pick a ride that's tough, but not so tough that it dampens your spirits. You're not trying to rip your legs off, you're trying to steadily build them up. The BHF London to Brighton Bike Ride is actually the perfect warm up event, so do some good whilst you smash your Ride London training.
We fully understand that it may seem like an insurmountable task to complete Ride London at this point, but we promise you that with the right training, a good group around you and the right attitude you'll not only smash it, but enjoy it too. Even the hills! Because at the end of the day, and you need to say this over and over, it's just a bike ride!
How can we be so confident, you ask? Because we've helped others do it, that's why, and they all thought and said the same things that you're saying and thinking right now. We will be running our famous Ride London training rides again this summer, to help everyone train for 100 miles. However as point 2 illustrates, why wait until then. Join the community now and join a group ride, meet other beginner cyclists and start training for Ride London.
If you have any questions about Ride London, the Dirty Wknd membership or anything else at all, then just get in touch in the comments and we'll do our best to help.