Back in February I got home to find the coverted ‘Congratulations. You have been successful in gaining a ballot place in the 2017 Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100’ magazine on my doormat. RideLondon is pretty much the London Marathon of bike rides and I’d just got myself a place…I haven’t owned a bike since I was a teenager.
So I bought me a bike. A pretty blue bike with bright green flashes. And I’ve named him Walter. Walter and I haven’t known each other for long, which only gives us a short period of time to get acquainted before tackling this pretty-big-deal 100 mile ride. Just 11 short weeks in fact.
Learning how to ride in cleats in Wimbledon Park
RideLondon is a three day cycling festival in its’ 5th year. It came about after we hosted the Olympic Games in 2012 and is part of London’s long term goal to create a safe, easy, and well-connected environment to get more people active through cycling. On the 30th July, the 100 mile sportive gives participants a rare opportunity to ride on closed roads around London and Surrey, finishing on the Mall. It’s one of those things I’ve always admired from afar but never actually thought I’d do.
I know it’s difficult to get a place, and the fact I entered the ballot without a bike annoys people, but I’ve felt the same about the London Marathon (and other events) for many years. It’s a new challenge for me and I’m going to give it my best shot, so I refuse to be sorry.
11 weeks really isn’t very long to get used to a proper road bike, on London roads, with cleats AND get ready for the challenge in hand. I probably should have bought a bike earlier, but I was desperately trying to build my fitness post foot surgery and throwing a new sport in the mix was all a bit too much.
Gemma taking me out for my first proper ride in Richmond Park
Cycling doesn’t seem to be quite as easy as just chucking my trainers on and going for a run. I have to plan ahead, I have to know where I’m going, I have to have the time to do it to get any decent miles in, and, ideally, I have to avoid as much traffic as possible. Plus cycling for 3+ hours is exhausting so then I need a nap!
I’m lucky to have some great friends, and a great Dad, who know a lot about bikes because I literally knew NOTHING. They helped me pick out the right bike for me and showed me the ropes (ie how to remove the front wheel when you’re panicking about getting the bike in the car, THANKS MARTIN).
But not only that, Gemma & Martin came with me to pick up Walter, which was a lifesaver because I don’t think I would have made it home on my own. I mean, Martin did tell us 3 times we were going left at a busy junction and then proceeded to cross 3 lanes of London traffic to go right after I had been on the bike all of 2 minutes, but I survived…I forgot that Martin’s left is everyone else’s right.
A hilly ride around the Purbecks with the brother. Ice cream stop selfie
I’ve since been riding with Gemma, my brother, a Chasers group and even all by myself. I’ve even got those stupid cyclist tan lines that I can’t get rid of!
Anyway, so far, so good. A couple of near misses and a few bruises but Walter and I are progressing nicely and have made it up to 40 miles. Whether I’ll ever be able to keep up with other people, I don’t know, I just need to figure out how to put the tiger in the Kat…so to speak.
Dad – I’m bringing my bike home for us to clean ‘together’ and do puncture repair practice soon. You’re welcome 🙂