With just a few weeks until Ride London 2018, you'll hopefully be fully into the swing of your training and feeling like you're ready to cycle 100 miles. You should have had your start times through and can think about planning your day. Hopefully you're feeling more excited than nervous, but it's very natural to feel a bit apprehensive at this point. As ever, we're hear to help.
Having a great Ride London day isn't all about how much you've trained on the bike, it's also about getting your preparation right. This can range from working out how you're getting to the start line on the morning to practising packing your pockets a week in advance - it all helps. As we've said before, you should definitely have been training with the kit and nutrition you're going to use on the day. Below are our top tips for the 'other bits' of Ride London that might be giving you a headache right now, but really are nothing to worry about.
1. Getting There
It's the sort of thing you can easily overlook, but how are you getting to Ride London? Are you going to ride there? Is there a train? Your start time will likely be between 6am and 9am, and you'll need to be in your wave/holding pen around 30 mins before that. It also takes about 30 mins to get through bag drop and to find your start pen - you don't want to be rushing so it's usually a pretty early start. Might want to think a bit more about how you're getting there.
There are a few options to look into, depending on where you live or are staying. If you're not a Londoner then you'll likely be staying at a hotel or Air BnB. Our advice is make sure it's near the start line. If you are a Londoner, more specifically, not an East Londoner, then you've got a choice to make. Lots of people will ride there - what's an extra 10 miles on top of 100?! Whilst there is no parking on site there is 'park and ride' in various locations nearby to the Olympic Park. If your start time is later on the morning, you can also get the overground or certain 'high level' tubes. Details here.
However... if you want our advice, it's exactly one million times easier to stay in East London the night before. Whether you book a hotel room, or crash on your hipster mate's sofa, starting in the East End makes your Ride London kick off so much easier and less stressful. So now might be the time to start trawling Facebook for that friend you went to uni with who now lives in Stratford ;)
2. Bag Drop & What to take
The question we get asked the most (apart from how to get to the start) is can you take a bag to the start, and what do you do with it? The answer is yes you can take a bag, which will be put onto a lorry in Stratford, and which will be kindly taken to the finish line at Buck Palace. You also don't need to bring along your best backpack, you will be given a snazzy drawstring bag in which to put your possessions at sign on on Saturday. We're not telling you this for fun - you have to use their bag, so don't bring your best backpack, you won't be allowed to leave it there and will have to ride 100 miles with it on your back!
What to bring? Basically you won't be able to get at your bag after you've handed it over at the start line, so you really only want to fill it with things you'll need before and after the event. Before the race we'd recommend taking an extra layer to get there and keep warm. You can then dump it in your bag before handover. It's also wise to take some extra food for the waiting pen - don't want to start tucking into your ride snacks. Oh, and also go to the toilet as soon as you arrive. The queue will build up over time as everyone suddenly decides to go right before kick off!
We'd recommend a change of clothes for your bag for after the ride (you'll have been in lycra for around 8 hours in total) and any post race nutrition you may want (you do get a goody bag at the end, but the last thing you want is more Haribo!)
3. Taper (rest before the event):
Call it what you like (tapering, waxing your board) but good old fashioned rest is the most effective training you can do in the 1-2 weeks before the big day. You've already done your training and a big effort in the week leading up to the ride will only serve to tire you out. Gentle spins and easy commuting is the best way to keep your legs active whilst ensuring your not putting in any big efforts.
It can also be really helpful to get a massage in the run up to the event, ideally 3-4 days before the big day so your legs are in the best shape possible. Check out club sports massage therapist Lucy Bond and get 20% off as a club member (Click Here). Also remember the British Cycling motto - 'if you can sit instead of stand, sit. If you can lie down instead of sitting, lie down'. They know their stuff, but it may not impress your boss, so use with care!
4. Clean Your Machine
There is loads of proven science (it is science) about how a clean bike, specifically your chain and gears, will make you faster on the day. Not only that however, a clean bike also makes you feel like a better, faster, more attractive and generally more rounded individual. The placebo effect is real, and crossing the start line on a gleaming, lubed and highly functioning machine will stand you in the best stead to tackle the 100 miles.
If you are a deft hand with degreaser then you can go ahead and clean your own bike before the day. However that sounds like a lot of effort during rest week, so why not get someone else to clean it for you? Our partners Ride Clean will be at The Dynamo on the weekend before the event (21st/22nd), waiting to give your bike some love. We are also running 'taper laps' on Saturday and Sunday, so why not come along and do some laps, have some brunch and get your bike cleaned! 10% off Ride Clean services for members (Click Here).
5. Study The Route & Don't Panic:
We say this an awful lot, but cycling is at least 50% mental (some of it is more mental than that!) Joking aside, it's so easy to tie yourself in knots over thinking the tiniest of details. It can be hard to trust yourself, and even harder to quiet those voices in your head, but you will have a much better day if you accept a couple of undeniable facts.
- You can do no more training - you are as ready as you can be at this point
- It's not going to go on forever - the ride (and hills) will end
- It's just a bike ride!
- Your body can do incredible things - just keep feeding it and it will do what you ask of it
- No one has ever seen the dreaded 'broom wagon', nor have we ever heard of anyone being stopped from finishing.
Once you've squared all of this away with yourself, you will be much more likely to enjoy the day. Another 'must do' is to study the route and plan your strategy. A common reaction to route knowledge is 'don't tell me I don't want to know' but this is exactly the wrong type of attitude. The hills are coming, no matter what you do, so you need to know where and when they are, so you can make sure you're prepared. This way you can eat something 15 mins before, make sure you have enough water and even take off a layer if needed. Forewarned is forearmed, is mother Dirty Wknd always used to say! Also knowing where the feed stops are will help a lot so you can replenish snacks, water and go to the loo. You'll be given a top tube sticker detailing where and when the hills, landmarks and feed stations are. This will become your best friend, so make sure you use it. White duct tape and a sharpie are also great for your own notes or motivational quotes ("shut up legs" is often a good one).
All that is really left to say is good luck and have fun. Hopefully our training rides and blogs have helped throughout your training - all you need to do now is remember as much as you can on the day. Just think of it as a lovely day out in the Surrey Hills, and all will be fine. If you're looking for a pal to ride with, please head over to our Strava Club and join in on the Ride London discussion - if you post your start time you should be able to find someone to ride all or parts of the route with.
We hope you'll come and join us in Green Park after the ride for prosecco, nibbles and to celebrate your achievement. All welcome, including friends, supporters and randomers you met on the ride! More details here.