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Ultimate Guide To RideLondon

Ultimate Guide To RideLondon post image

Boom! It’s 20 days until the 2014 running of the RideLondon 100 kicks off (pedals off) from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Are you excited? You should be*.

(* Unless you’re not doing it, in which case, “meh”.)

In this post I’m going to rehash share some of the stuff I’ve produced over the last 18 months relating to RideLondon. The aim is to inspire, inform and excite you, as well as reassuring anyone that’s having a last minute attack of nerves (headline message: DON’T PANIC, it’s going to be great).

11 Reasons Why You’re Going To Have A Great Time Riding RideLondon

In a fit of post-ride excitement last August, I penned a post explaining why you must sign up in 2014. That ship has sailed, but the reasons I gave are just as useful as a pre-ride motivational pep talk.

Here’s a quick reminder of what you can look forward to (the full post can be found here):

  1. Riding on closed roads in London is fugging amaze-balls.
  2. It’s fast – you’ll be surprised how fast you ride (but don’t go out too hard)
  3. Non-chiselled whippets are perfectly capable of finishing and posting a good time
  4. It’s well organised (and will be even better after the experience of 2013)
  5. Spectator support in a sportive (virtually unheard of elsewhere…)
  6. It’s perfect for popping your imperial century cherry (‘imperial century’ being the term for a 100 mile bike ride)
  7. The collective experience of riding with 1,000s of other riders
  8. It’s a very friendly event (there are remarkably few extrémités cloches)
  9. The sense of a RideLondon community
  10. It’s not just a sportive; there is a whole festival of cycling spread across the weekend
  11. You’re helping to promote cycling in the UK (very good of you)

Everything You Could Possibly Want To Know About the RideLondon Route

I wrote this post about the RideLondon route in March 2013, not long after the course was first announced. It’s a useful primer. Note however that I wrote it before cycling up either Box Hill or Leith, so some of the stuff I included about gradients is, quite frankly, guff…

The Grimpeur Analyses The RideLondon Route

Then I went to ride a section of the route and learnt what wasn’t really worth worrying about – the hills – and what was (to a degree) – the distance:

A RideLondon Reconnaissance Ride

The RideLondon 2014 is slightly (VERY slightly) different to the 2013. This post explains:

RideLondon 2014 Route

Whilst we’re at it, that 2014 post contains a link to the route mapped out using RideWithGPS, in case you want to download a GPS file for your Garmin (other cycling computers are available). The usual disclaimers apply (it may not be 100% accurate, the organisers may change the route, the Kingston section goes against the normal flow of traffic so don’t ride that before race day):

RideLondon 2014 route for download

Finally, if you’re more of a graphical sort of person, here is the RideLondon route in cartoon form (click to enlarge):

RideLondon Route Cartoon

Click to see a bigger version

Here Comes The Hill Climber (Herd ’em Up)

After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb – Nelson Mandela

Whilst that Madiba quote might be true in life, he never rode RideLondon. After you’ve climbed the great hills of Leith and Box (and the slightly lesser one of Newlands Corner), you won’t find many more hills to climb (other than an annoying little surprise slope in Wimbledon).

Anyhoo, I wrote detailed treatises on both Leith Hill and Box Hill, which I bring to you here via the magic of the hyperlink:

Leith Hill

Box Hill

Final RideLondon Preparations

There is no phrase more likely to strike fear in to the heart of the amateur endurance athlete (for yes, you are they) than, ‘You should now be coming to the end of your training programme’.

So…

You should now be coming towards the end of your training programme. Or at least you should be into the final 10 or so days of real effort, after which you’ll be tapering.

Don’t skimp on the taper. The temptation, particularly if you’re worried that you’ve not done enough training, is to ride hard right up until the eve of the event. This is self-defeating. Any fitness gains you make in the final week will be offset on the day by fatigue from not being fully rested. At least give yourself 5-7 days of rest and very short, mostly light sessions.

Pure fitness is not the only ingredient you’ll need for a successful ride. Being organised in terms of your food and drink, and the other items you’ll need to carry on the day, will have an impact on your enjoyment of the day and the time you post:

My RideLondon kit list (including the stuff I took to my friend’s house, where we stayed the night before)

I went a little overboard in my pre-event analysis of what I would need to eat, writing a detailed ‘nutrition plan’. You certainly don’t need to do this – the bananas, energy drinks and other snacks available at the feed stations, along with a couple of gels and some Jelly Babies in your jersey pocket will be enough to get you round. My full ‘overboard post’ on RideLondon nutrition is available here.

Finally, you’ll want to spend a few minutes perusing my thoughts on the ‘optimal’ way to spend the night before RideLondon… (don’t sue me).

Please Share This Post

If you’re participating in RideLondon, I wish you the very best of luck. You’ll have an awesome day.

If you’ve found this post useful (and even if you didn’t), please can you do me a big favour by sharing it with as many people as possible. Click a few of buttons below to post it to Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. It will make my day, as well as help out a few people that might be looking for RideLondon information.

Courage, mes braves!

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Michael Curtis says:

    I have done Leith Hill twice now. The first time was when I learn that 12:23s in the back weren’t a good idea. Now I have 13:28s. It was still tough, but once I got to the top recovered well and was fine all the way to Box Hill.

    Box Hill is much, much easier than Leith. I thought Newlands Corner would be tough, but it wash’t too bad either. From my recon on Saturday, Surrey council have done a wonderful job on the roads. Beautifully smooth.

    • Andrew Montgomery says:

      Thanks Michael. Ha! I’ve just realised that you’re talking about gear ratios. I was being a muppet and thinking you were talking about times! I have a 30 as my largest cassette cog and a compact set of chain rings (so 34 at the front). I was very thankful to have that combo on the day. For me it wasn’t so much about getting up Leith, it was more about doing it in such a way that I didn’t destroy my legs ahead of the remaining 40 or so miles. Good to hear that the roads are good throughout. Makes such a big difference.

      Good luck with your remaining training.

  • […] I’ve written on the blog to help YOU make the most of your RideLondon experience – click here to read the post or finish reading this one and follow the link at the bottom […]

  • […] I’ve written on the blog to help YOU make the most of your RideLondon experience – click here to read the post or finish reading this one and follow the link at the bottom […]

  • Som Chatchai says:

    I am travelling from Thailand to do the ride, I saw it randomly on Youtube in Feb and decided to book a spot for the event.

    Next week I am staying in Westcott, Surrey to have a few practice runs at these climbs. I have found all of your information great, after reading this latest post I am not worried about these climbs at all 🙂 I am running a compact crank on the front and a 12-32 cassette on the rear, “spinners are winners”, so I’ll be spinning my way to the top!

    It will be my first time in the UK and I’m guessing it’s a great way to see the place.

    Keep posting, keep up the good work, love your blog!

    • Andrew Montgomery says:

      Thanks Som. Glad you’re enjoying the blog. The compact + 32 will be incredibly useful – being able to spin when you have other cyclists riding erratically is great.

  • Vikutska says:

    Nice to be reassured about the climbs on the ride. Thanks to your blogg i decided to ride both of hills before big day. And I must say my legs are stronger, was training in Richmond park today and I fel almost like flying 🙂
    I am bit nervous about the ride itself but at the same time I am so looking forward.
    Hopefully I can say : do not underestimate the girl with the ponytail 🙂

  • Paul Baines says:

    Training going very well, including lots of ‘hilly stuff’ up & down the South Downs including a couple of 80 mile sportives. Then last Wdnesday – disaster – spectacular crash. Thank goodness for helmets, otherwise I’d be in a box. My own fault, too fast downhill and didn’t see the bend until too late. Hopefully, I can get out on the bike by next weekend and get the legs turning again before the big day. MUST ride it, I have £2000 sponsorship and draw my state pension in September, so probably last realistic chance of taking part. Here’s hoping……………………
    Thoroughly enjoy the blog and feeling reasonable about the hills.

    • Andrew Montgomery says:

      That’s bad luck Paul. Hope you get back on the bike soon. I’m sure it’ll work out fine.

      (PS. There are quite a few blog readers here who will object to your comment about scaling back the cycling once you get your pension!!)

    • John Rawlinson says:

      ”Last realistic chance” Don’t you believe it Paul – At 69 I am riding the London 100, my 4th sportive this year (and they were all much lumpier than Surrey) hope you make it for Aug 10th but if not – see you next year.

  • strowles says:

    This is really useful and helpful with good insights, thank you.
    I’ve struggled to keep to a strict training regime; relying on lots of hill climbs and mid distance (40 to 70 mile) sportive at weekends. I am about to go out on a 100 miles session (15 days before the event) to prove I can do it; then scaling back in the run up!
    Whilst a few years away from claiming my pension I am coming late to the sport but excited as a kid at Christmas!
    Keep up the good work.

  • Simon James says:

    A very useful guide (did it last year but always good to refresh). By the way the route download you’ve got there is slightly wrong as in Kingston on the outward leg it turns right earlier than marked as it goes right after Tiffin School up Cromwell Road (the opposite way to the one way system) then after the bus station it turns right again and swings behind the station (as it did last year) then back onto Wood Street as shown. On the return leg the route goes through the market place (it couldn’t do this last year due to works but it was always the intention to put it through there) to the end of the bridge then right along Horsefair under John Lewis around the Wood Street in front of the station then left up Fairfield North as shown.

  • Kristian says:

    Just yesterday did a, ehm .. sort of a recce … of the 2013 route, with a slight deviation, starting and finishing in Harrow, joining the route from Chiswick all the way round till the now closed Putney bridge.
    if the roads are closed this has a potencial to be a good ride, bot not a great one. Closed roads in London are fun, then till you hit Newlands Corner there’s not much to do but ride, really. Newlands got a sharp bit at the beginning, then eases off, its an easy climb. Nice fast straight-ish descent.
    Leith Hill was tough, the undulating parts either make it easier or harder, you have to try. Lovely dark adrenaline fueled high speed descent on the other side.
    Box is a steady ‘easy’ climb even after all those miles in the legs. Loved that sharp uphill bit after the tight left-hand turn. Route back to London a bit boring but fast-ish. Wimbledon hill is a nice surprise as is the much shorter ‘taster’ after Norbiton.
    Re: Gears – just to brag 🙂 I’ve got a triple 48-38-28 and 7speed 14-28 at the back. Climbed all in 38-24 lowest, even if it needed out-of-saddle effort.

  • […] if you’re still eager for more RideLondon ‘intelligence’, do check out my Ultimate Guide from last year, which has links to all my various RideLondon posts over the years (yes, […]

  • […] Needless to say I embarked on some regular training rides down to the Surrey Hills and elsewhere in the months leading up to the big day. A few friends shared their experiences of riding in it previously and  I tracked down some good articles on blogs such as Sportive Cyclist. […]

  • Andrea says:

    Thanks for a great blog. Need to get some more hills in my training before hopefully doing this next year!

  • Michael Curtis July 21, 2014, 11:30 am

    I have done Leith Hill twice now. The first time was when I learn that 12:23s in the back weren’t a good idea. Now I have 13:28s. It was still tough, but once I got to the top recovered well and was fine all the way to Box Hill.

    Box Hill is much, much easier than Leith. I thought Newlands Corner would be tough, but it wash’t too bad either. From my recon on Saturday, Surrey council have done a wonderful job on the roads. Beautifully smooth.

    • Andrew Montgomery July 21, 2014, 12:57 pm

      Thanks Michael. Ha! I’ve just realised that you’re talking about gear ratios. I was being a muppet and thinking you were talking about times! I have a 30 as my largest cassette cog and a compact set of chain rings (so 34 at the front). I was very thankful to have that combo on the day. For me it wasn’t so much about getting up Leith, it was more about doing it in such a way that I didn’t destroy my legs ahead of the remaining 40 or so miles. Good to hear that the roads are good throughout. Makes such a big difference.

      Good luck with your remaining training.

  • Som Chatchai July 22, 2014, 1:13 pm

    I am travelling from Thailand to do the ride, I saw it randomly on Youtube in Feb and decided to book a spot for the event.

    Next week I am staying in Westcott, Surrey to have a few practice runs at these climbs. I have found all of your information great, after reading this latest post I am not worried about these climbs at all 🙂 I am running a compact crank on the front and a 12-32 cassette on the rear, “spinners are winners”, so I’ll be spinning my way to the top!

    It will be my first time in the UK and I’m guessing it’s a great way to see the place.

    Keep posting, keep up the good work, love your blog!

    • Andrew Montgomery July 24, 2014, 11:45 am

      Thanks Som. Glad you’re enjoying the blog. The compact + 32 will be incredibly useful – being able to spin when you have other cyclists riding erratically is great.

  • Vikutska July 22, 2014, 3:03 pm

    Nice to be reassured about the climbs on the ride. Thanks to your blogg i decided to ride both of hills before big day. And I must say my legs are stronger, was training in Richmond park today and I fel almost like flying 🙂
    I am bit nervous about the ride itself but at the same time I am so looking forward.
    Hopefully I can say : do not underestimate the girl with the ponytail 🙂

    • Andrew Montgomery July 24, 2014, 11:46 am

      Absolutely. You’ll have a great time!

  • Paul Baines July 22, 2014, 6:48 pm

    Training going very well, including lots of ‘hilly stuff’ up & down the South Downs including a couple of 80 mile sportives. Then last Wdnesday – disaster – spectacular crash. Thank goodness for helmets, otherwise I’d be in a box. My own fault, too fast downhill and didn’t see the bend until too late. Hopefully, I can get out on the bike by next weekend and get the legs turning again before the big day. MUST ride it, I have £2000 sponsorship and draw my state pension in September, so probably last realistic chance of taking part. Here’s hoping……………………
    Thoroughly enjoy the blog and feeling reasonable about the hills.

    • Andrew Montgomery July 24, 2014, 11:48 am

      That’s bad luck Paul. Hope you get back on the bike soon. I’m sure it’ll work out fine.

      (PS. There are quite a few blog readers here who will object to your comment about scaling back the cycling once you get your pension!!)

    • John Rawlinson August 4, 2014, 9:31 am

      ”Last realistic chance” Don’t you believe it Paul – At 69 I am riding the London 100, my 4th sportive this year (and they were all much lumpier than Surrey) hope you make it for Aug 10th but if not – see you next year.

  • strowles July 25, 2014, 7:34 am

    This is really useful and helpful with good insights, thank you.
    I’ve struggled to keep to a strict training regime; relying on lots of hill climbs and mid distance (40 to 70 mile) sportive at weekends. I am about to go out on a 100 miles session (15 days before the event) to prove I can do it; then scaling back in the run up!
    Whilst a few years away from claiming my pension I am coming late to the sport but excited as a kid at Christmas!
    Keep up the good work.

  • Simon James July 27, 2014, 6:13 pm

    A very useful guide (did it last year but always good to refresh). By the way the route download you’ve got there is slightly wrong as in Kingston on the outward leg it turns right earlier than marked as it goes right after Tiffin School up Cromwell Road (the opposite way to the one way system) then after the bus station it turns right again and swings behind the station (as it did last year) then back onto Wood Street as shown. On the return leg the route goes through the market place (it couldn’t do this last year due to works but it was always the intention to put it through there) to the end of the bridge then right along Horsefair under John Lewis around the Wood Street in front of the station then left up Fairfield North as shown.

  • Kristian August 25, 2014, 10:38 pm

    Just yesterday did a, ehm .. sort of a recce … of the 2013 route, with a slight deviation, starting and finishing in Harrow, joining the route from Chiswick all the way round till the now closed Putney bridge.
    if the roads are closed this has a potencial to be a good ride, bot not a great one. Closed roads in London are fun, then till you hit Newlands Corner there’s not much to do but ride, really. Newlands got a sharp bit at the beginning, then eases off, its an easy climb. Nice fast straight-ish descent.
    Leith Hill was tough, the undulating parts either make it easier or harder, you have to try. Lovely dark adrenaline fueled high speed descent on the other side.
    Box is a steady ‘easy’ climb even after all those miles in the legs. Loved that sharp uphill bit after the tight left-hand turn. Route back to London a bit boring but fast-ish. Wimbledon hill is a nice surprise as is the much shorter ‘taster’ after Norbiton.
    Re: Gears – just to brag 🙂 I’ve got a triple 48-38-28 and 7speed 14-28 at the back. Climbed all in 38-24 lowest, even if it needed out-of-saddle effort.

  • Andrea September 27, 2015, 4:46 pm

    Thanks for a great blog. Need to get some more hills in my training before hopefully doing this next year!

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