If you want to go big in the UK – especially if you new to cycling – then this is the race for you! Following (pretty much) the route from London 2012, this 100 mile beast will put you through the mill and reward with some of the best views and climbs from across the Surrey Hills. With closed roads, fantastic organisation, bag transfers and an entirely positive vibe we really can’t recommend it enough. If the big 100 seems a bit too much, there is even a 46 mile version to break you in a little more gently.
Background: Started in 2013 following the success of cycling at the Olympics, RideLondon is a joint venture between the London Mayor, London Marathon Events Limited (London Marathon) and SweetSpot Group Limited (Tour of Britain). Whilst it has quickly become one of the ‘classics’ the objectives of the race remains closely tied to The Mayor and TfL’s goal of encouraging more people to cycle more safely, and more often.
The Climbs: First off its important to flag that this route is largely flat and fast, so don’t fret… But there are some great climbs (by which I mean short with a mid gradient) for you to enjoy:
- Newlands Corner: 1 mile, climbing 380 feet, average grad 5% max 11%
- Box Hill: Length 1.5 miles, climbing 573 feet, average grad 4% max 11%
- Leith Hill: Length 1.3 miles, climbing 513 feet, average grad 6% max 15%
Best Bit: Pure camaraderie. Everyone is chatty and supportive, despite the huge range of experience and speed. It really is a ride for everyone.
Worst Bit: The weather! I did the first race in 2013 and it rained so hard that they actually closed the climbs because they were too dangerous.
- Check the weather: If it’s going too rain get mud guards and shoe covers, you’ll need them! Mudguards stop 75% of the water from hitting you (I’ve been using the SKS Raceblades for years), and dry feet are the key to happiness.
- Ride to the start with friends: Transport is really difficult, so if you’ve got a group of friends taking part make the most of your morning – meet for coffee and ride in together. The roads are quiet that early and it’s a great way to enjoy the buzz!
- Keep to the left: Riding closed roads is fantastic, but in a reverse of ‘underground etiquette’ the faster riders will move to the right hand side. So if you’re not giving it full beans (very few people will be lol) then try to keep left and leave some room for the racers.
- Take spares: The route covers a lot of villages and towns, and the chance of picking up a puncture is reasonably high… So don’t forget to carry a spare inner tube (with the right size and valve size), tyre levers, a mini-tool and either a gas canister or a pump. If you do use your spare you can usually pick up another at the feed/mechanical stations… But a top bit of general advise is to carry a pack of repair patches too – after 3 punctures in a single ride I never leave the house without them!
- Attack the climbs: None of them are too long, so have fun, hit them hard, and enjoy the rush as you steam past the stragglers!
- Eat a lot: There is nothing worse than bonking 50 miles from home… So if you’re in any doubt about how to fuel for the day, just keep eating. The fuel stations are clearly marked and really well stocked, so carry something… But don’t empty the cupboards!
- Keep an eye out for Safety Captains: Riding in pairs and wearing black & orange kit – these guys are there to help and will often have spares.