I should like to thank the club members who generously donated to my charity, Hearing Loss Cornwall. I have not collected all my donations so I am unable to confirm the total amount of monies promised.
In the following paragraphs I have outlined my experience of the event. Hanna and I drove to London on the Friday and stayed at a hotel in Docklands which is fairly close to the Excel Centre where you are required to register. The registration process was very painless and there were a large number of exhibitors at the Centre offering anything from top-end bikes to gels.
My start time was 8.49 and you are required to arrive at your designated start area in the Olympic Park one hour before your start time. The journey from the hotel was somewhat chaotic with a number of closed roads, cyclists being dropped off and remainder of us cycling to the start. I arrived in good time, deposited my kitbag on designated lorry and entered my start area.
The organisation at the start was excellent and we left on time. The differing start areas take diverse routes and only converge in central London which allows a reasonable distance between the groups. On dual carriage way and closed roads it was very easy cycling and I went through the 10mile marker in 31minutes. The first small bottle neck was the entry into Richmond Park and on through Kingston-on-Thames where the early fast boys were returning on other carriage way.
I arrived in Pryford which is 38 miles into the ride in two hours and met a jam as far the eye could see and it was soon backing up behind me. It transpired that a cyclist had hit a tree and was very badly injured and an air ambulance was required to air lift him to hospital. We were held between Pryford and Ripley for approximately hour and half. But people were in good spirits and enjoyed the camaraderie. Once the casualty was taken to hospital those at the front could start to cycle and those at the back were forced to walk as a result of concertinaing effect. From then onwards every pinch point in the road caused a delay.
Newlands corner at 47 miles is the first gradient and some people did revert to walking but it was far from challenging. Owing to the delay caused by the accident we were diverted away from Leith Hill as the last finishing time was 17.30 to allow the professionals to finish on the Mall. It transpired that the professional race was forced to halt for 30 minutes to clear the backlog of riders on the road.
The next serious bottle neck was Dorking where we were made to wait in groups before being allowed to enter the town. Onwards to Box Hill and the road surface is as smooth as a billiard table. There were few people walking but the gradient was no problem just bunching of cyclist and walkers. According to Strava my Box Hill time was 13.35minutes which ranks me 12,428 th with the KOM time of 5.13minutes.
Onwards towards Oxshot with a slight rise that took people by surprise and forced some to walk and block the road. From Kingston there were far more spectators providing encouragement and with the exception of Wimbledon Hill the road was flat and I was able to make reasonable time. Riding up Whitehall, into Trafalgar Square and down the Mall on closed roads was a unique experience. With so many participants finishing it took some time to be funnelled away from the finish line.
My official finishing time was 7:42:13 hours and my moving time on Garmin 6:37:18 hours for the diverted 92 miles which included some spells of forced walking.
The good, the bad and the ugly. The start was well organised. You were provided with a luggage bag which was deposited on a lorry and was available at the finish. Waiting around for an hour plus at the start can be cold; luckily I had been warned and carried a rain top.
The water and feed stations are numerous but tended to be very busy and should you contemplate entering the race do take your own supplies to avoid the crowds.
There was a mix of abilities and experience of the participants which made riding in group a little wearing as you need to concentrate the whole time to avoid an accident. Whilst it was very unfortunate that there were one fatality and one serious accident, better management of the situation would have improved the experience.
Overall I did enjoy it; would I do it again – no.