London Bikeathon 2013

This morning as promised in numerous online posts in the last few weeks I set off to Central London to take part in the London Bikeathon 2013.

After some thought I decided it was silly not to cycle to and from the event, so just after 8:30am I jumped on my bike and cycled over to Chelsea Embankment.

I had to tweak my route when I discovered that a large part of my planned route through Hyde Park was closed for the PruHealth World Triathlon Grand Final London. Ironically my cycle to a sponsored cycling event was disrupted by a bunch of cyclists in a different cycling event.

I arrived at the event about 25 minutes before my route group was due to start gathering, and almost an hour before we were due to set off. For me today was like catching a plane, and the last thing I wanted to do was miss it!

Waiting for the '26 mile' route riders to be called
Being the cunning and observant type I managed to position myself so that I ended up in the first group to be sent out for our distance. This was something I was hoping for as it meant that there were fewer 'slow' cyclists in front of me; my pace is naturally high without pushing myself too hard.

As the roads cleared up in the fifth kilometre I was able to settle into my usual 3-minute/kilometre pace (give or take). Throughout the ride I was probably always in the first one or two dozen riders, with the gap between riders spreading out as traffic and traffic control delayed some more than others.

Waiting to be called for the 26 mile ride

There were a few people who didn't react well to red lights; some people cycled like it was a closed-road ride; others just cycled like London commuters. I lost time to the risk-takers, but that's my riding style, and I'm still alive to tell you about it!

I was expecting to feel tired after 20km but my body is in better condition than I deserve and I didn't suffer at all during the ride.

The route I cycled
One nice stretch was (I think) Copse Hill just after the 27km mark. This was where a lot of people lost momentum. Again, more through luck and fortune than anything else, I enjoy a moderate uphill gradient from time to time and seem to have the legs to carry me up them without too much trouble. I almost felt bad for the people I was cruising past, but I'd by lying if I said I didn't enjoy the feeling.

The last few kilometres of the ride took us along King's Road towards Sloane Square. Running into bumper to bumper Sunday traffic was a bit of a downer after some of the amazing stretches of road earlier in the route, but there's no way to get back to Central London without cycling through Central London.

I'm not sure what happened at Sloane Square; a number of us arrived there and could see any more of our trust route arrows anywhere. Nor were there any hi-vis marshals to be seen. We did the only thing we could sensibly do - cycle around Sloane Square and head for Chelsea Bridge Road. No-one saw any point in cycling randomly round London.

[After leaving the finishing celebration event I did walk back up Chelsea Bridge Road towards Sloane Square and saw numerous marshals at useful points. My best guess is that they didn't expect people to get there so quickly and didn't have the bodies there in time for the quicker riders. The route they were directed on was ever so slightly longer that the route we took, which may account for why Endomondo shows I cycled 40.92km and not the expected 41.8km. Having cycled over 20km to get to the even and back I hope you won't quibble over the 'missing' kilometre]

There was a bit of an eventful right-turn onto Chelsea Embankment and then a short ride to the finishing line.

I was fairly surprised to see how few riders were there. I know I only did the shortest route, so I wasn't 'best' or 'fastest', but there were only a dozen or so people there when I arrived. The result of being one of the faster riders in the first group I expect.

26 miles later...

Stats for the ride

I was expecting a very stop-start ride, so I enabled Endomondo's 'auto pause' feature. The ride came in at 1h:58m:52s - under the two hour target I'd set for myself. Even with auto-pause, the first kilometre was a painfully slow 9 minutes.

After exporting the data to Strava it reports that the elapsed time was 2h:10m:45s ... so very close to my target in actual elapsed time. I think that with fewer obstacles and level crossings I could bring my elapsed time under two hours.

In total today I clocked up just shy of 65km. The furthest I've cycled in a single day.

The workout can be viewed in full on the Endomondo site.

Why not donate?

If you've read all of this and are thinking "wow, that's impressive, I wish I'd donated some money" you're in luck - my fundraising page is open for some time after the event. Why not head over there and part with the price of a cup of coffee? Donate £2 now.

An Eventful Right Turn

I didn't want to miss this report, but thought it might be too long and detract from the flow of the even narrative, so I've saved this little story for the end of this post.

Right at the end of the ride there was a right-turn on to Chelsea Embankment.

Along with a number of other riders I moved forward and stopped in the 'safe' area waiting to turn right when the lights turned red for traffic travelling in the opposite direction.

Looking behind me I saw the lights had turned red - not were in the process of, but had actually turned red. I moved my front wheel forwards about six inches ... I wasn't in the oncoming lane but it looked like I was going to accelerate to make the right turn.

At the same time I was doing this, an oncoming white van was in the process of jumping the red light. He'd barely left the ASL box and was far away. I'd half-expected this, and ceased my forward movement. At the same time the van driver s**t himself thinking he was going to jump a red light and run down a cyclist in one manoeuvre.

Van driver brakes hard.

A fraction of a second later, the Chelsea Tractor behind the van drives loudly into the back of the van. Looks like the van wasn't the only one planning on jumping the red light.

As I wasn't involved, and technically didn't cause the incident (maybe the van braked because he saw the red light and his conscience hit the brakes - nothing to do with my six inch forward movement), I continued my right turn and cycled up the road to complete the event. [Quick research shows it's not against the law to leave the scene of someone else's accident.]

Final Words

When I finished the ride I still felt full of energy. I was certain I should have signed up for the 52 mile ride.

After food, drink and rest, the cycle ride home was very hard work. I was hugely pleased I didn't have to cycle much farther that day.

I will continue to cycle, and I'll increase the distances I can comfortably cover in a session.

No doubt I'll be doing more events like this in the future. I've already put myself in the ballot for the 2014 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 mile ride. I should find out in February if I've been lucky or not.

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