Three things I learned from cycling 100 miles in RideLondon...
(1) Trust & Awareness
This might be the first time you’re cycling with hundreds or even thousands of other people. On the day there is a degree of trust required for your fellow cyclists and a bigger degree of awareness and alertness that you’ll need to have. Always expect the unexpected. Be ready that someone might pull out in front of you. When cycling past others, alert them that you are coming past or say something like “Passing on the right”.
To help with riding in a bunch and learning to draft a wheel, I suggest you go out on local club/group rides. This will help build your skills and confidence and you’ll soon be more comfortable cycling with lots of other people around you. These riding skills will become particularly important when cycling on narrow roads or on single lanes.
(2) Holding your line
When cycling in an event like RideLondon, with lots of turns and corners, it is very important to stay left when you are not overtaking and to ‘hold your line’ when cornering. To ‘hold your line’ means that you keep a consistent smooth arc (or semi circle) around the corner, such that you’re not crossing into the paths of the cyclists on either side of you. At the RideLondon event I saw numerous crashes into the barriers and into spectators because people where cutting across eachother on the corners.
Hydration is absolutely essential on a long ride and it’s even more important when the weather is warm. Today I tried to get around the 100 mile course with only 2 bidons, as I was hesitant to stop with the crowds at the feed stations.
This was a disaster in waiting! At mile 50 I could feel a slight headache and at that point I knew I hadn’t drunk enough fluid. I had been head down pedaling hard in a peloton and I wasn’t thinking much about my nutrition and fluids. Rookie error! I knew what I had to do - I stopped at the penultimate aid station to fill my bottles with energy drink and eloctrolytes. This stop was one of the best decisions I made all day. Rehydrating and refueling meant I could continue the 25kms to the finish. Sometimes it really is worth taking 5 minutes out to refuel, as you’ll save many more minutes in pedaling time if you run completely out of energy (or “bonk” as we call it in the cycling world!)