Last weekend I took part in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 bike ride – its the third year I’ve ridden the event, and each year I’ve had a different experience. I’ll have a proper blog post on the 2018 ride up soon, but for now I wanted to highlight a couple of the events I took part in, in the run up to RideLondon.
My training for the 100 miler was pretty erratic – I mainly just cycled at the weekend, and did very little in the week. I did manage to squeeze in a 100km ride (62miles) and a couple of 50 milers, including the Milton Keynes bike ride mentioned below. Then I took part in the Chiltern Cycling Festival 32 mile ride as my final taper before the big day.
British Heart Foundation Milton Keynes Bike Ride – 50miler
This event is organised by the British Heart Foundation, like the extremely popular London to Brighton bike ride which I’ve done the last couple of years. The Milton Keynes ride is relatively new, 2018 was only the second year it took place and they definitely have a few issues to straighten out, but I can see it being a great local event in the long term.
There were four different options available, 50km or 50mile, on-road and off-road. I went for the 50mile on-road route, which started at Willen Lake in Milton Keynes and headed out into the surrounding countryside through Woburn and some other very hilly areas! Living just down the road I’ve cycled this way a fair bit, but it was definitely a challenging course and made all the more tougher in the heat.
The route split points were marshalled, but all the routes just had the same colour arrows with the different options written on in black marker pen – not so clear when you’re trying to make a decision which way to go at speed! There were only a couple of thousand riders taking part, and once I’d turned onto the 50 mile route it got pretty quiet and I did worry about whether I was going the right way a few times. I did hear afterwards that some of the signage had been tampered with by angry locals (seriously?) but I do think colour coding the routes and adding in a few more arrows could help.
The feed stations definitely weren’t up to scratch either, with minimal water and no snacks left by the time I came through (and I don’t think I was that slow!) They had advertised Torq performance nutrition products at the stops, but I saw no sign of anything – fortunately I’m used to carrying enough food with me on my rides, but for less prepared cyclists it would have been more of a problem.
Still, I definitely enjoyed the route, managed to finish the 50 miles and enjoyed my complimentary bike clean from the Pro Bike Wash guys afterwards! The finish venue at Willen Lake was lovely in the sunshine too, and for a local ride in support of a great charity I was happy to have taken part.
Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival – 32 miler
The Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival is very familiar to me, being an event that is organised by my company Human Race. I had signed up myself and James, and persuaded my friend Jo to join us, as a final training ride before RideLondon.
The day again was ridiculous hot, and even though we only did the 32 mile Corto Fondo (Short Route), in 30 degree temperatures that was quite enough! The route may have only had two named climbs (Frith Hill and The Long Drive back to the finish) but it was still challenging, although you could definitely distract yourself with the scenery – it was stunning.
Contrary to the previous event, the feed station on the short route was epic – I may be biased but I think Human Race do the best fuel stops! Sweet and savoury snacks, including Jaffa Cakes and roasted potatoes, what more could you want! I tried not to get carried away considering at the point of stopping, I only had another 16 miles to go… I saw both James and Jo at the feed station, before they both whizzed off, beating me to the finish. Still, at least I got a full cheer squad by the time I crossed the line!
The event venue is Penn House in Amersham, in the lovely Buckinghamshire countryside, and as well as the three different distances to choose from in the sportive there is a fantastic festival to enjoy too. James’ parents came to meet us at the finish line with E, and we all enjoyed burgers and ice cream in the sunshine whilst watching the Tour de France on the big screen. There was live music and kids rides too – a pretty perfect cycling Sunday I’d say!
Have you done any great cycling events recently? Share your recommendations!