Darren Billings, Sonia Insley, Neal Wardman, Samantha O’Connor, Martin Young, Dave Gallop, John Pattison, James Stirling, Ray Jaggers, Dave Hayes and Richard Allsop took part in the 2017 Ride London Surrey 100, here's a report from Darren.
Sunday 31st July saw 11 Bolsover riders take part in the annual ride London Surrey 100 mile event. Some of us had done the ride before, but there were a couple of newbies. The ride starts at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and finishes on the Mall after a 100 mile circuit out of London, round the Surrey Hills and back into London.
3 people managed to get ballot entries, 1 had a charity place and the rest had Club team places through the club.
A drive down on the Saturday and all but one of us stayed in the Best Western in Epping Forest, about 6 miles from the start and 11 miles from the finish so not a bad location. We all needed to register at London Excel centre, but with heavy rain forecast we opted for a drive rather than the steady 10 mile ride down there. Nobody wanted wet kit to start off the morning on the Saturday.
Next morning the alarm was set for 3.50am!!!!
After a quick porridge pot and banana, we threw on the cycling kit including waterproof as we had had heavy rain with an amber warning overnight, although the ride was forecast to be dry. Lights were on for a 4.30am departure from the hotel, with a bit of drizzle still falling. Ray and Richard opted for a lie in and were heading for their later start times. The rest of us were in Blue waves B & D loading into our waves by 5.20am. The plan was to all jump into Wave B and ride as an 8, which is what we managed to do.
The ride in was like something from a zombie apocalypse film until we rounded the corner in Stratford at 5am to see a wall of cyclists ahead of us. Loaded into our pen by 5.15am we had a 35 minute wait for our departure at 5.50am. Wave A went at 5.45 and we moved forward to take our start positions. Garmins on and we’re ready to roll. A vote to roll out to AC/DC Thunderstruck was made with the crowd and we were off.
With 25,000 cyclists + there are multiple coloured starts and about 12 waves in each colour over a 4 hour period, so by the time we got out on the road there were already lots of cyclists around us. The rides not for everyone, with so many riders out on the roads with mixed abilities you have to keep your wits about you all the time. The plus side is that it’s a closed road event so cycling on the opposite carriageway is a sensible option to avoid most of the traffic, no stopping at traffic lights and the wrong way round the roundabouts helps avoid the congestion.
Off we went forming into the Club ride 2 up formation; it’s not long before we find ourselves towing a large group along, which seems to be the norm these days when the Bolsover train is out on the road :D
As always we shot off like a steam train at 20mph +. With a bit of head wind this proved quite hard work and rotating was minimal, mainly involving rotating with James. It transpired later on in the day he wasn’t staying that night and had failed to check out. This meant he would be charged £15 per hour for every hour he arrived back after 12pm!!!
A quick unscheduled comfort break in Richmond Park saw us stock up on the goodies on offer including whole bars of Cliff shot blocks, Cliff Bars and Gels. A few hardened families out in the park waiting for their spouses to come through, it’s still only 7am!!
Off we went again and agreed we would all stop at Newlands Corner which is at the half way mark. The pace was high and it became apparent that not all of us would survive the whole ride at this pace, so a bit of a regroup at the rear was in order knocking the pace back a bit and regrouping at Newlands Corner for refuel.
It was agreed that 4 of the boys would crack on and the other 4 of us would go a bit steadier. The boys came home in a ride time of sub 5 hours at just over 20mph!! James went straight back to the Hotel to check out his bill!! Lol
The second half of the ride contains the main climbs of Leith Hill and Box Hill. Leith Hill being a bit of a Carr Lane and Box Hill a bit of a Beeley. Due to our early start times we were among competent strong riders and everyone was riding. Later in the day the majority of people are walking which makes riding up difficult especially Leith as it’s a bit narrow. A bit of a dig and a couple of PB’s obtained.
With the main climbing done it’s a 30 mile rolling run back through the towns and into London. By this point Sonia is on the front towing us along at 25mph. The crowds have started to come out in the towns and the atmosphere is building as we head back into London. A quick glance over my shoulder and we have another train of 50+ riders all happy to sit on our wheel. A bit of route planning is also involved as the 46 milers have also started to filter into the return route.
A quick ride along the embankment and within a blink of an eye we are turning on to the Mall. Do we sprint, don’t we sprint! We opted for the roll over the line together approach. 11.59am the Clock says. Not very often you get to do a 100 miler before dinner!
Although not a sub 5 hour we still averaged 19mph and 5hrs 15min, so pretty respectable, and we got to see the sights.
A few photos, medal received and off to find the others for much needed refreshment and food.
The Ballot for 2018 opens on Monday 7th August. If you would like to do this ride the first option would be to enter the ballot. The club will be doing Team entries as well next year but not everybody who wanted a place got one this year.