WEST LONDON CYCLISTS IN THE 2022 RIDE LONDON – ESSEX

We are aware that many of you are entered in the forthcoming Ride London-Essex and thought we’d do a little preview.

NOTE: WE ARE STILL INTENDING THERE TO BE A SUNDAY RIDE AT 9am ON 29th MAY FROM THE POLISH WAR MEMORIAL (A40 RUISLIP / NORTHOLT) ON 29th MAY FOR THOSE NOT DOING RIDE LONDON

Dave Morrison, Hang Pang, Bhavesh Mistry, Ketan Mistry, Baz Mistry, Carl Yates, Gautam Thakkar, Nicky Fosbrooke, Martin Whelans, Sam Messingham, Fritz Dittman, Rafa Nunez, Daniel Nelson-Smith, Lisa Snell, Kaustav Bhattacharya, Linda Dunne and David Tobin. are, we know, entered and we have some of their thoughts below (scroll down).

We could write a preview telling you all about the route, climbs, etc, etc, but we suspect that a lot of this information will be provided by the organisers. We certainly think the route looks nice and Dunwich Dynamo veterans and anyone whom has done some of Thomas Deakin’s Great Dunmow Audaxes will be familiar with some of the place names. The start on Victoria Embankment and finish on Tower Bridge look cool, good choices in our view.

Getting to the start can be a headache, especially if you have an early start time. We are close enough to ride to the start, but most will not want 20k extra before the start. Our suggestion is to ask a friend or relative to drive you to somewhere like (say) King’s Cross and then cycle southwards from there. This will avoid them entering the busy area and the one way system gives them a chance to turn around and head back west. Alternatively, see Nicky Fosbrooke’s tip below for parking near the start, which looks very tempting we must say!

For the return home, you can take your bike on the tube except the deep tunneled sections. This map illustrates the tube lines you may take your bike into (Aldgate looks tempting).

And here’s a rough outline of the route:

So, what do our West London Cyclonauts think?

Ketan Mistry: It’s going to be my first 100 miler. The most I’ve done previously is 82 miles. I’m looking forward to the atmosphere and buzz, which I hope will get me through the day. My training leading up to the event is riding as much as possible with West London Cycling

Lisa Snell: I did Ride London the Surrey route back in 2016 so decided that I would like to be in the first year to do Ride Essex. I really haven’t done as much training as I would of liked to but we still have 5 weeks to go. It’s earlier in the year than before so that’s maybe why I feel I haven’t done as much. Just getting back into cycling too after a couple of years off doing other sports. I am looking forward to Ride Essex as I rarely go that way.

Dan Nelson-Smith I want to give something back to a charity that has helped my family through tough times over the last year. Mental Health has likely effected yourself, friends or family members in some way or another; particularly over the last 2 years. For me I lost 2 work colleagues and a family member all in the space of 6 months. They all lost their battle with mental health. Nobody should have to bury their own child but my Auntie had to do just that. Connor was only 25 when he took his own life. The day of the event (29th May) is also the same day last year my Aunty was told by police that Connor was found at his home 😞I haven’t pushed myself to ride this distance before but I am sure I will get around the route. Prior to the event I will try and get as many miles in my legs as possible and work on my fuelling strategy. I have read all the books and watched all the videos but need to get out and put it into practice. Look forward to seeing you all on the start line and good luck to all.

Nicky Fosbrooke: I plan to drive into London, so have secured a parking spot near start line using the justpark app. I paid £7:50 for all day parking.  Bargain for London parking!!

Dave Morrison: I have done four previous Ride London’s but they were the old Surrey Route. Some the Essex Route is familiar to me, but most will probably be new. My main points for newbies is that closed roads can both be a blessing and a curse. Your overall time will be impressive because, unlike a normal sportive, you don’t need to slow at junctions. However, many riders forget the protocol that you still ride on the left, leaving the right hand side available for people to pass. Just because there are no cars, people should still look back before pulling out, but many forget to. Finally, there will probably be many novice riders not used to riding at speed in groups … stay alert, touching wheels at speed isn’t pleasant …. see Fritz Dittman’s story below.

Linda Dunne: I like to challenge myself with these crazy things so when I received the email about applying, I did. Little did I know it wasn’t for the ballot…. I was in; gulp! In 2020 I came off my bike, fractured my collarbone and had an op to fix it. As there was no training plan I got one from Garmin, started adding miles each week, 2 spin classes a week plus my normal running and swimming. Pre conquering 50/60 miles on a bike I could have easily given up, now I’ve reached 70 miles and feel this 100 miles is more do able. My fear is not finishing in the said time as I’m not the fastest, my goal is to complete in one piece, I have struggled with my good shoulder, just had a bike fit, very interesting! Now with adjustments new seat, and advice, I’m ever hopeful.

Hang Pang: There was plenty of excitement before my anticipated 2018 Pru100 ride but It turned out to be a Pru46 ride as myself and friends decided to abandon the longer version of the ride due to incessant rain and cold weather. There were punctures galore and my clothes were soaked through and there’s nothing worse than wet socks! After Richmond Park, the heavens opened and we decided to take the shorter circuit ! Those were the days before I had mudguards and proper rainproof clothing. Not long after I decided to splash out on a proper rain jacket that has kept me dry on rides since. Preparation wise – I had trained enough for the ride and in hindsight I should have persevered and completed the 100 miles in the harsh conditions. How did we  get  there ? We organised taxi vans to take us to the perimeter of the closed roads of London. It was £25 each if I recall.  Other notable memory points were that my friends were stuffing their pockets / small musette bag with Clif bars.  I still enjoy them today as they were one of the key sponsors. Not cheap but tasty. The previous year I abandoned it because I caught a bad case of man flu a few days before the ride! A year later I managed to sneakily get into Ride 100 based on a  tip I came across after chatting with a rider in Evans cycles in London! I got in the event by using my dad’s address in Hong Kong ! The price was more expensive but I got in nonetheless! There was less interest from friends whilst a couple of friends had managed to get hotels close to the start point. I decided to stay at my humble abode and venture in to Stratford early in the morning. I cycled to Stanmore station and took the night tube into Stratford – albeit  bucking the rules for taking non foldable bikes across zone 1! An early train at 4:36am! I completed the ride in a reasonably good time, averaging about 18mph ( checked my strava) but ran out of juice in the last quarter of the ride which made the challenge a little less enjoyable ! My top tip from this ride was to ensure you fuel and pace yourself and don’t get too excited and go like the clappers when drafting. Advice is to ride within yourself – pace is key and remember about fueling for food and hydration is all important! Cycling up hills can also be challenging too – Leith Hill was a struggle due to the sheer volume of riders clogging up the ascent ! So if you have an early start – it helps  when the event traffic is less congested. Overall – if you have not done 100 miles before, make sure you have many miles in your locker before late May and don’t change too much on the bike set up ! Don’t experiment too much on new seats/ cleats/ shoes etc …. Ensure you do a good 50 miles or more a couple of weeks before on the set up beforehand.

Carl Yates:

I did Ride London in 2014, 2015,  2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019. Overall it’s a great event with a festival atmosphere. I have done it twice as part of the RAFCA, these were the fastest times I ever managed as we got in to the grove and ended up doing a TTT for 90% of the route, I looked back as we steamed along the embankment and saw a huge line holding onto our wheels as we powered in to the city. One of my most challenging years was in 2019 when I rode for McMillan, my wife was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2018 and I wanted to do my little bit to raise funds to stop others having to face what my wife and I went through. It was also the wettest year ever, I remember riding through Kingston and all I could here were chants of encouragement from those hardy souls who were stood watching.
As I saw the Shard, and the London Eye I must admit I had a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat as I thought “ that was hard” then I thought about how hard my wife has fought to beat cancer and I found energy I never thought I had. A very emotional year. It is truly a fantastic event and a party atmosphere pretty much all the way round. A few things to be aware of:
Some riders are riding well outside of their ability! Be very wary of joining a chain gang! Chances are it will be full of people who don’t know what they are doing. It will end up in a big crash!
Descents; again people get a little carried away and forget that downhills have corners! The numbers of crashes is high.
On the return to London be aware that the routes will merge, so there are those doing the shorter rides and family rides on the same roads as those doing 100 miles, this can be tricky to navigate. My tip would be to slow down and enjoy the sights. Chat to those who you ride with. Shout encouragement to the kids etc. Forget about the time! Just relax and enjoy. 

Baz Mistry: I rode my first RideLondon-Surrey 100 in 2019 for the Charity Victa Empowering blind children an young adults https://www.victa.org.uk/. It was quite a day with early start taxi to Richmond then a train to the Olympic stadium. I have never seen so many cyclists on the road and found it was not easy going fast due to the bottlenecks of riders trying to get up the surrey hills. I ended up doing a shorter route because of an accident on Leith Hill and we had to divert across. Best thing was riding in London with out worrying about cars, a great day out.

Fritz Dittman: I have only done the ride London twice. Well actually one and a half times. The first time was I think in 2015, we were slogging at a very fair pace somewhere between Weybridge and Byfleet (if my memory serves me right). When I say slogging, I mean we were really going for it, as only someone new to cycling would be doing at the early stages of the ride. We had a reasonably early start and had finally got into cycle traffic that was more or less our pace. Prior to that we had lots of Pelotons pass us and we were passing lots too. However finally we were in amongst our level of riders. The problem with Ride London is that one gets riders of all types, experienced, novices, fast, slow, competent, and downright idjits. Mmmmm well idjits may be a bit harsh, but none the less it was two of such calibre that managed to lose focus and clipped wheels about 10yards ahead of me! I was well and truly… ‘fluxed’ as one would say. You know that feeling, when despite managing to get only one hand on the brake, the front one at that, you mind is already telling you…. Buddy this is going to hurt! So, it came to pass. The one chap landed perpendicular to my direction of travel, and I hit his thigh with my front wheel. This was far too much for science, gravity and my CofG (centre of gravity)! CofG  a term normally used in aviation which is quite applicable as my rear wheel became airborne leaving the ground at an alarming speed. Of course, our cycles are not designed to work on one wheel, especially not the front one which left my body no other scientific option but to fly over the handle bars. I don’t remember much for a split second after this except that I landed with an earth rupturing thud. I am sure there was an earthquake in China that day. It was hard! I immediately had the most unbearable pain in my scapula (Shoulder blade, Note I am switching to medical terms now as we know a thing or two). It felt as if my wing had been forcibly torn from my shoulder. My only thought however was to GET OUT OF THE ROAD AND THE OTHER CYCLISTS! I literally crawled off the road onto the pavement. It was then that I put my hand on my left shoulder and felt a softness where hardness should be. I new immediately what the diagnosis was! The famous cyclist’s injury! A broken clavicle! (Collar bone, u see I know these terms now from 1st hand experience). My race (ok I know its not officially a race but a ride, but only the late starters treat it as ride) was done. Luckily my mate Dan had managed to miss the “corambulage” (is there such a word)? He took my bike to a friendly neighbour who promised to look after it until he could fetch it later that day. I, in the meantime, was placed on the street corner with a space blanket (why do they call it that when its only an ambulance you will be traveling in, there is no space or spaceship involved) around me whilst we waited for the ambulance. I think it was about 30 mins before they arrived to scoop me up. The best part was the Entonox or nitrous oxide or N²O (happy gas, a few more medical terms I learned that day) they gave me. I must have sucked that cylinder dry because I floated all the way to A&E. X rays confirmed what I already knew, I was given some Codamol or such like headache pills and sent home on my merry way. Surprisingly there were 4 more broken shoulders that came into A&E whilst I was waiting. Dan fetched the bike after his ride and together with my mates we finished the day off with a very uncomfortable but welcome “Braai” (South African BBQ). Nothing keeps a South African away from his fire, beer and meat. I was out of action for a few days but managed to get on the spin bike within a week (something I can only recommend as getting the heart rate up and the blood flowing gets rid of all those inflammatory responses, despite what the doctors will tell you). One good thing that came out of the injury was that I used the injury to smuggle a mobility scooter to South Africa for my mom, but that is a story for another day. My second attempt went much better, and I actually managed to finish this time. This was 2016 if memory serves me right. However once again I had to deal with an idjit (ok, ok again a bit harsh) but well deserved. We were coming in along the Thames towards the finish, our time was superb, we were going for a 4 hours 50 something or was it 5 hours finish, doesn’t matter, it was on the cusp. 5h55 always looks better than 6h05 if you know what I mean. We were in a small peloton of 4 or 5, my mate Dan in front. He is our diesel engine, chugging away at around 33km/h plus and as he is a built like the proverbial brick ship house and is a great guy to hide behind when confronted by head wind. We were motoring, when suddenly this idjit (sorry a bit harsh I know) pushes in in front of me. Now that is ok, I can live with that, but bloody hell at least hold on to the peloton. Sadly, my newfound friend (I say this lightly) lost the tow and I could not pass him (dare I say it, nothing to do with no strength or fatigue or poor performance) due to the headwind. Slowly slowly we dropped back and when I finally did pass him, I could not get back to my mates and the little peloton. The result, my friends finished under the hour, and I finished just over. A bit frustrating but at least I finished. So, what is the moral of the story? It must be…. Watch out for the idjits out there, there are plenty of them and they can be found throughout the ride, at the start during or near the finish and they can upset your race…I mean ride!