The Prudential Ride London Sportive is the biggest, most famous and most sought after sportive in the country, if not the world. Just ask the thousands of people who miss out on the 20,000 odd ballot places every year - competition for a spot is fierce!
If you were one of the lucky ones this year then congratulations; now you've just got the pleasure (or pain, depending on how much training you've done) of 100 miles around the Surrey Hills to contend with. If you've ridden the course before then you will know what to expect, and will likely be trying to better your time from previous years - we wish you luck and hope you have an enjoyable day. If you have not taken part before; if you are a Surrey 100 virgin, then you'll find below some tips from us (three time veterans) and some of our twitter followers who kindly chipped in with their tips. How quickly you get around the course will not only depend on how much training you've done, but also how prepared you are and, often overlooked, how much you enjoy the ride! We hope our tips help you to enjoy the day!
Fairly obvious one - prepare to fail, as the old mantra goes; however there are many forms of preparation, and that doesn't just include laying your kit out the night before (definitely do this though - it's part of the psychological battle).
Check your kit:
As our good friends and Omnium pointed out on Twitter, making sure your bib shorts are up to 100 miles is key. This might mean upgrading before the race (make sure you wear them in though). Same goes with the rest of your kit; check everything from your sunglasses down to your cleats and pedals. Check for wear and tear and replace anything that's worn (especially your tyres). A mechanical on the day will ruin all of your training and planning. And punctures are just not cool!
Reccy the course (if you can):
If you're close enough to the Surrey Hills area then the biggest piece of advice we can give is to ride as much of the course as possible. There's a reason pro teams always drive every stage of a tour before riding it - so they can make mental notes and, most importantly, know what they're up against! When you come to Leith Hill on the day (around 55 miles in), you'll enjoy the climb a lot more knowing where the top is having done it already. Well, maybe not 'enjoy it', but it will make the difficult bits of the ride a lot more 'doable' if you know what to expect. We are running a Ride London Training Series of rides to help you train and prepare for the event. So if you want to practise the hills in a fun and friendly group, why not join us? Details here.
Stop Training 1 Week Before.
We hope that by this point you've completed your training, and are 'waxing your board' (we promise that's a phrase). The week before the ride is not the time to be trying to cram in a few more training rides. You're much better off spending the last week relaxing and mentally preparing; resting your legs and stretching. It is a good idea to go out for a couple of light spins during this week, however, just to keep the legs moving.
Stay Near The Start Line:
Actually getting to the start line on the morning of the ride can be tricky, so we would suggest staying as near to Stratford as you can. Whether that's with family/friends/colleagues or at a local hotel is up to you, but it will help your morning prep. The last thing you want on the morning of the ride is to be worrying about getting you and your bike to the start line. The Olympic park is pretty hectic, and trying to find the start point for your wave (there are multiple) can be difficult. Give yourself plenty of time and make sure you've got your start info locked in your brain (or phone).
Prepare For All Weathers:
Having ridden the Surrey 100 once in torrential rain and once in baking sunshine, we know better than most how important having the right kit is! The simplest plan is to prepare for the worst, and make sure to layer. You can check the weather all week, but it can change on the day and if you're going to be in the saddle for 7 hours then you will start to get cold. It's much better to carry a waterproof, arm warmers and gloves around the whole course and not need them, than to really need them and not have anything!
You are able to leave a bag of stuff at the start line, which will be transferred to the finish line for you, so you can take as much kit to the start line as you like and then take or leave what you want depending on the wether. Also make sure to put some warm dry clothes into your bag for after the race.
Download/Study the Route:
If you have a GPS device we recommend downloading the route and following it on the day. The roads are closed and barricaded/signed so you can't get lost, but the lack of mile markers mean that it's difficult to track how far through the ride you are. If you have the route on your device you can check where you are and how far you've got to go. Again, knowing what's coming up and being prepared will greatly improve your enjoyment. If you don't have a GPS device then study the route beforehand and make a note of landmarks/towns - Newlands Corner (hill 1) is at 45 miles, Leith Hill (hill 2) is 57 miles and Box Hill (hill 3) is 67 miles in. Forewarned is Forearmed!
During The Ride!
Be aware and communicative:
Ride London is like no other group ride or sportive you've ever been on before, mainly due to the sheer number of people. It's great fun riding in a large group (you can pretend you're in a pro peloton) and having a large group around you all the time makes it the least lonely ride ever! However such a crowded ride can cause issues of safety, and being alert and aware is of paramount importance. For this reason, some times you will have to act slightly different than you normally would on a group ride.
As Oli Crosby, 3 time veteran of Ride London states: 'don't move as soon as someone ahead points out a pot hole, or signals something, as you'll likely move right into someone and can cause a crash'. Certainly try and avoid pot holes and obstacles, but always make sure to check and signal before moving, and more so than ever, be very vocal about you're movements. If you're passing someone, tell them loud and clear - 'passing on the right' etc. If something happens ahead and you're caused to slow or stop then make sure to shout 'slowing' or 'stopping' so those behind you know what's going on. Moving suddenly without warning is the biggest cause of crashes; ensure everyone around you knows what you're doing!
Immediately after leaving the Olympic Village you're presented with lovely flat roads through a closed central London. The temptation to put your foot down and speed through this section is very high. However you've got a long road ahead, and gunning it right at the beginning will only come back to bite you! Save your 'Central London sprint' for the way back - you finish on a lovely section of the embankment, before turning onto the mall for the final sprint - this is the time to empty the tanks!
Fuel Well - Use The Feed Stops:
Fuelling yourself on any sportive is one of the most important aspects of a good performance and this is very true of Ride London. Make sure you've trained with the nutrition you want to use on the day (whether that's gels, bars, bananas etc.) so you know how it effects your body, and then make sure you have plenty of that nutrition on you throughout the ride. There are 4 main feed stops on the route (learn them on the map above) for you to re-stock your pockets - use them!
Take Wimbledon Hill Seriously:
At 90 miles into the ride, Wimbledon hill is arguably the hardest part of the whole ride! Barely a blip on the profile, you might think this is a joke - but I assure you it's not. Not taking this little bump seriously will haunt your post ride dreams! Its not steep or long, but after 90 miles of Surrey Hills, it feels like the Tourmalet! Save a little in the tank for Wimbledon, safe in the knowledge that once you're over it it's all downhill/flat to the finish line!
After the Ride!
Join us for a party!
You've done it (and believe us, you will do it) - now it's time to celebrate! It is well worth sticking around after the ride to drink in the atmosphere, compare times with complete strangers and bask in the warm fuzzy glow of the unifying power of cycling. That, and to drink beer and cheer on the pro riders as they finish the course you rode just a few hours earlier. Hey, look at that, you're practically a pro!
After the ride we will have a Dirty Wknd area for everyone to congregate in to discuss the ride, have a well deserved beer and watch the pros come in! Depending on the weather this will either be an area in Green Park or a pub nearby. Follow us on Twitter for updates on the day. Friends, family and ride partners you've picked up on the day are of course all welcome!
Join us on one (or all) of our Ride London Training Series rides - click here for full details and to sign up - Details Here