Anglian's Simon Drake Completed the Ride London 100

23rd September 2014

The Ride London 100 began with plenty of training leading up to the day, and the journey up on Friday afternoon, driving through a big storm near my camp site raised concerns for the weekends weather. But arriving at the camp site, the sun was shining and the weather was soon put to the back of my mind.

Raising money for Breast Cancer Campaign

A couple of weeks before my Ride London 100 I informed a few people in my office. They decided to set me up a just giving page to support my chosen charity Breast Cancer Campaign and made cakes to sell in the office. The total raised on my page was £244 and I couldn't have done that without the help of my colleagues, friends and Anglian, who have also kindly sponsored me for this ride.

Saturday registration

I woke up to another sunny day thankfully and rode the 18 miles to registration at the London excel. It was all smiles looking forward to the challenge, but then that’s when I found out the remnants of tropical storm Bertha was on a path for the UK.

I got my ride number and attended one of the talks at the stage specially for the storm, getting instructions to set our phones to accept hourly updates and to set up the bike for a windy and wet ride.

Following this brief I returned to camp site and set up my bike and selected cycle clothing ready for a 4:30am start to the day.

Ride day

Woke up to a dark 4am and heavy rain on the tent; I had breakfast (still raining), got changed (still raining). When it came to the final check on bike it finally stopped raining. I loaded up on my food supplies, rode the 12 miles to the start (still not raining) and joined the other riders all merging from different directions (24,000 in total).

Simon Drake outside the NAC

My start time was 7:05am, and it still wasn't raining. Was the earlier rain Bertha? No, we were then told two climbs were being cut out for safety; Leith hill and Box Hill and Bertha was due to hit at around 10am, but we still had one biggish climb, Newlands corner. With these cuts the ride was reduced by 14 miles to 86 miles.

My start slot arrived so we were off (still dry) riding Britain’s biggest fully-closed road sportive, riding through London was incredible, being carried along at a quick pace, passing famous landmarks, passing through tunnels with the sound of all the other riders bikes was great.

Then just inside London, the rain started, the pace was still quick and with some tight corners the crashes started. Everyone re-adjusted and it was a nice ride through Richmond park, then Bertha arrived. The wind picked up, the rain got heavy, then heavier, then came the whistling in the distance. This was the marshals warning of a pending hazard, which turned out to be ankle deep water which we were approaching at too fast a pace, so not much could be done to slow down as the brakes were wet. We had to try to gently ride through it to prevent falling off, but the wet brakes made this tricky.

This sequence carried on for a while, then my thoughts changed to Newlands corner climb as in these conditions grip wasn't good. To make things worse the rain came in even heavier, but I dug in determined to finish. Then I noticed a sign “Newlands corner”. I was at the top, I hadn't noticed the climb because of the rain (big smile), then came the descent dropping at 32 mph, the hail started (that hurts) so I dabbed the brakes (shouldn't have done that). The back wheel slipped, which meant I had to let the bike run down the 1 mile decent. Then I heard the dreaded whistles again (oh no). I'm going much quicker this time but this time we aren't stopping because of water; it was some other riders who had not faired well on the decent.

Now it was the return section back to London and the rain was easing. I now had a tail wind and although there were still few floods to deal with the weather was easing. When I finally reached London, the crowds were cheering, which gave me great encouragement to get across the finish line. With the sun shining, everyone was wet and cold but still smiling.

I was thrilled to have completed it, even with Mother Nature giving us a beating and I received my medal as a momentum from the day.

Word for the day `EPIC`. The crowds were a big help as were the marshals and the Ride London was organised very well. Have I signed up for next year after this incredible adventure? Of course I have.

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