Author Topic: Essexian's excellent adventure at Ride London  (Read 2299 times)

Essexian's excellent adventure at Ride London
« on: 26 July, 2018, 03:47:25 pm »
Well, it is almost upon me…only 65 hours or so to go until I set off from Stratford East London on the Ride London 46 ride…. This is my story. 

Edit to note. I am a poor writer so you might like to go and go something else less boring than reading this. As I understand it, riding your bicycle is fun, although I have never really found it to be…. Hard work, certainly. Hot, well yes at this time of year, dangerous….nah, not really. You have more chance of getting to 57 and dying from lack of exercise than you do from riding your bike IMHO. Trust me, I know as I tried not to do any exercise for 20 years and managed to get to 22 stone which brought about all types of nasty things such as diabetes and High Blood Pressure.

Anyway, a word I use far too often, why if I dislike cycling am I dragging my aging body down to that London to only be embarrassed by people who have done no practice and who are riding bikes which are worth about the same as my cycling socks. Well….it’s a challenge and at least I can say: “I did that” just like I did last year after completing the Manchester to Blackpool ride. Now I know on the great scale of things, my riding is nowhere near epic. Indeed, some riders on here would consider the 2 000 or so miles I have done this year as a warm up to something more spirited.  I wish these people luck but sadly, I am not and will never be one of them.  Thus, I will measure myself against my own ability and if I do better than I had hoped, I will be pleased. If I don’t, then I will simply punish myself by having a bag of chips on the way home. I can be really evil! Also it will be nice to go back to where I used to cycle as a kid…. I wonder if Eastway will be open when I get there on Saturday?

Returning to the start of the year, I was always my plan to try and get a place to do Ride London. I have never done a closed road sportive, so fancied the idea although the idea of 100 miles is enough to make me seek professional help…. The longest ride I have ever done was around 75 miles and that was some 30 years ago and some 3 stone lighter! To be honest, I was quite pleased when I failed in the ballot. However, very much to my surprise, my application for the 46 miler (a much more comfortable distance for me) was accepted…. I was in….. now time to tell my wife.

Ah, telling CBH I was going to spend a couple of hundred quid riding a bike for few hours is always a difficult task. Over the 30 years we have been together I have discovered a way of softening her up; I give her the same amount I am going to spend on myself for her to spend on herself. Well, okay, I give her what I tell her I am going to spend, which is always about 50% of the actual expenditure. It’s like the old joke…lets hope when I die she doesn’t sell my bikes for what I said I paid for them.

The outcome of my softening up was an agreement that it would be okay, as long as I ensured that our cats had sufficient food to last two days and that she had a number she could get me on if needed. This stems back from the days I used to travel the country bring misery; sorry doing Audits. Once, when down in Deal, our central heating started to leak and she could not get in touch with me. What I was supposed to do from nearly 200 miles away was never explained, but hey ho.

So, down to get some practice. Sadly, this didn’t go too well to start with a large case of “can’t be arsed” and the fact that instead of losing a couple of stone, I have managed to put seven pounds on. You may add a D’oh here if you wish. I have always had eating issues: well more an issue stopping eating so failing here was always a real possibility. I have however done a couple of local sportives in the last month including one of 42 miles and one last week of 35. It was supposed to be longer but I was ill at the rest stop due to something I ate which did not agree with me. I also did the Bala Parade audax which covered 36 miles but, given the lumpy bits, took the same sort of time I am expecting Ride London to take; which is nice. While I like the idea of Audax, I am terrible at following route sheets. Indeed, if I ever did LEL, I have no doubt I would end up in Eastleigh rather than in Scotland.

As I expect London to be pan flat: I don’t remember it being so when I used to ride from Walthamstow to the City back in the early 80’s but I have no doubt “they” would have fixed that by now, my average speed will be higher than around here in the not flat but not hilly part of Staffordshire where I live, so I did a couple of rides around race tracks. Sadly, I didn’t manage to better my fastest average speed of 16mph but came close. I was also happy that my average wattage (according to Strava) has increased to around a massive 1.5watts per kilo. I am awaiting the professional contracts as I type. That is an 50% increase from where I was 4 years ago, so is quite pleasing whatever other people can do. If I can average 14 mph for the whole ride, I will be pleased.

So, it’s now Thursday and I have written my kit list: I am terrible at forgetting things especially cycling shoes and are about to clean my bike and pack it in its travel bag….please don’t tell my better half how much that cost…. Before doing the weeks shopping to ensure that the kitties are comfortable for the 30 hours I will be away. I suppose I better do some work as well. Frankly, I resent the fact that they expect me to produce “work” in exchange for bike vouchers!

More later
Cats to the left of me, cats to the right of me, cats sitting on my keyboard making far more sense than I do.

Re: Essexian's excellent adventure at Ride London
« Reply #1 on: 26 July, 2018, 10:56:49 pm »
Neat. Looking forward to Part 2. Good luck !!
Rust never sleeps

Re: Essexian's excellent adventure at Ride London
« Reply #2 on: 28 July, 2018, 08:05:06 am »

T-25 hours or so and I am scared…well perhaps apprehensive would be a better word but it takes longer to type, so scared it is.

So I am scared whether I got enough sleep last night. I don’t think I did as I found it really hard to settle with my mind going over things again and again and again. At times, my mind is like “Dave”. No, not the big bloke down the pub whose look can curdle mineral water but unknown to anyone, works and funds the local cat rescue centre, but the TV channel…so many repeats. Not being able to sleep also increases the need for trips to the loo. I think my record is eight such trips during one night. Last night I came close to matching that!

Not sleeping tends to make me irritable (when am I not asks CBH) and leads me to make mistakes, where scared number two comes in: Driving to and in that London.

Now many years ago; well 15th Sept 1985 to be accurate, I successfully passed my driving test first time at the East Ham driving centre. As you don’t really need a car in London, for the next few years until I moved to the far north, I didn’t do much driving, so what driving I have done, has been around the lower trafficked Midlands. Okay, I know the M6 just south of here is the most used road in the UK but I tend to use the A5 when heading south. It might take longer but it’s a much more civilised road than the “Johnny comes lately” road which is the M6.

Thus, heading into that London scares me a little. Indeed, when I last drove there, the North Circular was a series of single carriageway roads with the odd bit of duel carriageway (yes, I know but it made me smile) linking them together, while the South Circular was little more than a goat track. Now we have a “new” link road through Leyton and Leytonstone (they pulled my brother’s house down to build it!) and the North Circular is a motorway in all but name down from Charlie Browns (If you are interested in that type of thing, this is an excellent website regarding motorways. I especially like the plans for the M13 to go south of Southend….yes, south. )

Also, I always find it a little scary the few times I have been down south when you get to the bit of the M11 from where you can see all the towers of Canary Wharf. I suppose it must be the way my brain works but for some reason I always think that that would just be the time when Skynet decides enough is enough and starts Judgement Day. Okay, it’s not downtown LA but…. Also scary is the price to park at the Excel centre. As far as I can tell from its not so useful website, its £20 per day…. Nothing about part of the day. So, I have found a place about 10 minutes walk away which looks safe enough to leave the car with my bike in it, but until I get back from after collecting my ride bundle: (why they couldn’t post it out is beyond me…well I guess its just so they can put get a few dealers together who will try to flog their goods to a captive audience. I am going to be straight in and straight out so it’s a waste of time) I am going to be a bit worried.

The fact that I have to get to the Excel by 5pm also scares me, so I have given myself six hours to drive the 170 miles….. yes, I should be able to do it in 3 ½ to 4 according to the fiends at Google, but I am not going to trust them! Then, after this I still have to get to Romford to my hotel.

Being the planner I am, I am going to head back along the “new” North Circular to Redbridge Roundabout…. That takes me back: we had a school disco at the Red House pub there back in 1980. I do wonder if we are still banned and then take the A12 to Gants Hill where my brother wrote off my car once, before turning off along North Street to Romford.  It’s only 13 miles…what could go wrong? I am going this way as I don’t know the “new” A13 so am going to go the way I know,

Back as a boy, Romford always seemed so exciting! They had a swimming pool with a wave machine and it was miles out in the countryside. Indeed, we went on a Scout camp there once. When I last went there about 7 years ago, it was built up, noisy and not my type of place, although there was a take away in North Street which was rather nice. I am scared that it has changed hands and is no longer nice which will ruin my plans for tea.

Nothing much to be scared about the hotel: it’s just a boring chain hotel like the ones I have stayed in many times while on business. Working for a charity means that if we spend more than the bare minimum on a room, we have to explain why. Indeed, not sleeping under the arches leads to questions about our dedication to the cause. However, let’s hope it’s not too noisy or busy as I need a good night’s sleep and as has been said before, I am running out of space to store the bodies.

Finally, I am also scared about the weather. Okay, it’s not going to as bad as it was a few years back when the arse end of a hurricane hit the ride, but it does seem that there will be winds of over 30mph at times. I am the type of person who always has a headwind both out and back, so it might be a struggle at times to keep to my schedule.

Anyway, best go and have some breakfast and double check my list to see if I have been naughty or nice: sorry if I have packed something I will need. I know I will forget something but it won’t be my bike as that’s already in the car!
Cats to the left of me, cats to the right of me, cats sitting on my keyboard making far more sense than I do.

Re: Essexian's excellent adventure at Ride London
« Reply #3 on: 30 July, 2018, 01:55:12 pm »
Right, back and dried off, so let’s continue to bore you with my tale….

Returning to my previous post, I was quite apprehensive about driving in London. This proved to be well founding as the standard of road craft is so low that I am surprised that anyone gets to 70 without having at least one smash. I saw people undertake like their life depended upon it, speed in 30mph zones, go the wrong way down one way streets and don’t get me started on driving while on mobile phones. I have no doubt that if the Police set up a unit to simply stop car drivers from doing this, it would be self-funding in days. What’s that? “War on Motorists.”  In this case, it would be a justified war.

Arriving in London, I headed for the car park I had found near to the ExCel centre which cost only £2 to park….as did everyone else. So, in a search for a spot, I found a hotel directly across from the centre where you could park for a fiver for 2 hours. While this is still excessive (many car parks around here are free. Whether they should be is questionable) it’s certainly better than the £20 the official car parks were charging, even if you were leaving your car for 10 minutes. Now, that is a rip off but the park was well used so someone must have been happy to pay it.

The “Cycle Show” was just like I thought it would be: over busy, over expensive and over here. Finding the way out was a right struggle as there were no signs and “they” would not let you out in the indoor.

So with rider pack in hand, it was back to the car and back to Romford….okay, who moved Romford since I lived there and who removed all the road signs? In the end I managed to get to the Romford Road in Forest Gate so knew my way from there.

As typical, the Travelodge I stayed in was functional: it did what I needed it to do for the night and quiet enough for me to get a reasonable 8 hours sleep. I almost didn’t however, as just as I was settling down to sleep, CBH phoned me to stay one of our trees had fallen in the wind (it was the same tree where half fell last year). I had visions of having to rush home to clear it off my neighbours car but thankfully it landed on our property so clearing it is a job for later today.

Onto the day…. Up at 6am as planned and out of the door at 6.45am. Romford station was as I remember if, although could I work out how to use the ticket machine….D’oh. I should have taken my reading glasses with me. It seemed that a lot of people had the same idea as me: stay on a direct line to Stratford and get the train in, as there were eight bikes in my carriage alone!

Getting off at Stratford, I followed the herd, to the exit, only to find that it was the wrong one and were there any signs to my starting pen: were there heck as like. So, a mile or two riding around the station was undertaken until I found a small sign pointing in the right direction. Dropping my bag off and heading to the pen was straightforward. However, this is where it started to go wrong…..

When coming down to that London, I made a list of everything I would need for the visit: 35 items were duly ticked off as packed. I thought of everything….everything but a rain jacket. Little did I know, or did the forecast say, that it would rain solidly for four hours starting when I was standing around for 90 minutes waiting to be started. Come the start I was so cold and wet that If I had been closer to home, I would have not bothered with the ride and gone home.

Anyway, when our wave did start, the “DJ” decided that it would be funny to start us to a “song” by Bon Jovi. That’s enough to make me really miserable: crap song, crap band. I was however interesting  to head down the A12 toward Blackwell Tunnel. When I lived down here it was called the “East Cross Motorway” and cut the street my Nan lived in in half…. My family seemed to be hunted by motorway builders….. I was surprised by how many punctures there were within a few hundred yards of the start and very impressed by the handcyclists who were in the wave behind us but overtook me within 2 miles. Blimey, those riders can really move!

The next place of note was the Limehouse Tunnel. It was nice to get out of the rain into the most expensive road project in the UK according to Wikipedia (although I thought that was the road in Glasgow). I was surprised how many people were walking up the exit ramp: it didn’t seem that steep to me.

The Tower of London and Lower Thames Street came and went, as did the tunnel around Blackfriars. Without motor traffic, a good speed (well for me) of 20mph was obtained. The West End had a number of turns to take and Peds trying to cross against fast moving cyclists to avoid before entering Hammersmith and thus, leaving the areas of London I know. Two things I did notice now was that my average speed for the first hour was over 15mph and that there was a considerable amount of litter from gel wrappers on the floor. I have never understood that: take it home with you.

Over the river was next: no idea of which bridge we used but this is where it started to go wrong…. By now I had been out in the rain for getting on three hours but was still well within the cut off time. However, after being rude about the non hill in Richmond Park (I thought there was supposed to be one?) the park bit back and provided me with a visit from the PF. With cold and wet hands, it took some 10 minutes to change the innertube before I was off again….only to be stopped again some 20 minutes later when the same tyre went down. This time I managed to find a bus shelter to do the change in. I was not impressed as I could not find anything to have caused the issue but was able to carry on.

Not knowing South London at all, I was pleased when the last hill of the way in Wimbledon proved to be a drag but not much else, but not pleased at all when having crossed the river again “she” visited me again, some 3 miles from home. Not having any more tubes and with no sign of help anywhere, I limped home on a flat rear making it in 3 hours 10 minutes or so….. I can’t give you an exact time as the tracker had stopped working and the tunnels played around with my Garmins signal. Rain also got into my Virb camera and, well frankly everywhere else as well!

A medal was obtained, although this was for the 100 mile ride rather than the 46 I did but getting my bag back was very straightforward. The lady who returned it was a ray of sunshine and most welcome. Also welcome was all the people who stood on the roadside and clapped us around. I don’t know why they did it, but it was great that they did.

So, now with a flat rear, I was worried that I would have issues getting back to Liverpool Street if I was not allowed on the Circle/District Line with my bike. I need not worry as there were at least half a dozen bikes on my tube along. Liverpool Street to Romford was easy, while driving to the M25 and then M11 was straightforward if a little stressful for reasons given elsewhere. I did however take me four hours to drive home as the A14 was closed towards the junction with the M1, so I went north and cut over to Hinckley and the A5. I much nicer road IMHO.

So, thank you for reading this: you really didn’t need to! Would I do the ride again….perhaps: it was great riding on closed roads (although there were a couple of places where car drivers tried to get onto the route but were quickly turned around by the Marshalls: they did a great job in difficult conditions) but the weather was crap and I didn’t enjoy the “cycling show.”

Anyway, best get the chain saw out and start cutting the remains of the tree down.

Cats to the left of me, cats to the right of me, cats sitting on my keyboard making far more sense than I do.


  • Sylph
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Essexian's excellent adventure at Ride London
« Reply #4 on: 31 July, 2018, 02:00:50 pm »
A good write-up, but I'm puzzled why you would drive all the way to London when there is a perfectly decent train service, and an excellent one between Lpoo St/Stratford and Romford.
Bach without a doubt.

Re: Essexian's excellent adventure at Ride London
« Reply #5 on: 31 July, 2018, 04:44:41 pm »
Yup. I enjoyed that. Thank you.
Rust never sleeps