Ready or not, it is time for Prudential Ride London

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I can't believe it is already August.  It seems only yesterday I threw my name in the hat for Prudential Ride London.  Part of the Olympic Legacy, it is the first time the 100 mile bike ride will occupy London, near and far.  Organizers hope it becomes an annual event similar to the London Marathon.  My husband has developed a strong interest in cycling since the Olympics last year.  He commutes by bike, but ever since London 2012 he is getting up early on the weekends for a long ride before the roads get busy.  When I entered, I thought 1) it would be a good way for us to spend time together by training for the event and 2) I will never get a spot.

Guess what? I got a spot and James didn't.  *Note I am really good at raffles as they require no knowledge or skill.

Many times in my life have I asked myself 'what was I thinking?' but usually it is after a night out or a large bowl of Cold Stone Creamery ice cream.

But here I am. Three days away from the biggest ride I will probably ever do.  In prep, we rode the Finacial Times Human Race 60 mile ride.  It. was. the. hardest. thing. I. have. ever. done.  It took me 6 hours and 15 minutes to ride those 60 miles.  Why?  I have no idea.  On other training ride, my pace was much faster.  Of course, on those rides I was chasing after my husband.

My last ride (2 weekends ago) was designed by my husband to include the 2 big hills on the Ride London route- Leith Hill and Box Hill. It was 85 km (~60 miles).  That Sunday morning it was overcast with a nice breeze.  The sun didn't come out until we got to the top of Box Hill.  We had a nice break there, which was extended unexpectedly as I had a serious flat tire.

Which brings me to my recommendations/tips for those participating in their first race ever (and/or first cycling event).

1.  Know how to change your tire.  Before this tip, I would suggest carrying at least 1 spare inner tube, pump, multi-tool, and at least 2 tire levers.  I would also recommend a pair of disposable gloves as your hands are bound to get dirty.  Practice changing your tire at least once before your ride.  You can't count on other riders stopping to help you or the road being newly paved.

2.  Bring lots of dense snacks that you can eat with one hand. (although follow tip #6 too)  Our favorites have been no bake energy bites (although they tend to get schmooshed), bananas, Fig Newtons/rolls, and Power Bars.  They are all things we have tried and know our stomach can handle it.

3.  But just in case, carry some cash on you.  For this race, you will be in and out of towns and therefore have opportunities to stop for fluid replenishment and emergency snacks.  There are also food stops staffed by the race organizers along the route. 

4.  Stock up on electrolyte tablets/drinks.  As a member of #TeamNuun, we have been loving using this tablets to keep us going on hot days.  Keep in mind that Nuun doesn't have any sugar in it, just salts.  We have 1 bottle of Nuun and 1 bottle of Lucazade on our bike at all times.  Plain water isn't going to cut it as you will be loosing salts as you sweat.  Nuun comes in a handy tube that fits in my repair kit to keep a constant supply available.  Just add water! (and watch out for the gas release spraying all over your face)

5.  Invest in a bike computer.  Or find someone who rides at the same pace as you.  It may be a friend or keep an eye on someone just ahead of you. Try to keep up with them so you don't fall behind.  This helps stay you stay motivated when you just want to quit.  I know I need to ride on average of 25 km/hour to finish in the 9 hour time limit on Sunday.  My computer is going to keep me on track!

6.  Nothing new on race day.  Really. Nothing.  Eat the same breakfast foods.  Wear clothes/shoes/socks you have worn previously.  Bring snacks and drinks you have tried on other rides.  Do not try any free drinks or snacks along the way if you have never had them before.  The goal is to keep your body happy so you can finish by not surprising it with anything it will find offensive.

7.  Wear sunscreen and sunglasses.  Sunscreen protects your skin from harmful UV rays even when it is cloudy (you will still have a sexy cyclist tan as the sunscreen wears off with your sweat). Sunglasses will prevent bugs from flying in your eyes on the downhill bits.

Still craving more info? Check out the Global Cycling Network's video with more tips for Ride London.  Or leave a comment below with your tips for sportive success.

Also, if this is your first mass participation event, watch this on how to ride in large groups and other tips.

Finally, I am competing in several events this year as part of Rod's Racing.  Funds raised cover the adoption fees for orphans with Down Syndrome.  Your donation would be greatly appreciated.

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