RideLondon is again. After a Covid-enforced hiatus, the closed-roads biking pageant held its first incarnation since 2019 on Sunday, with each the family-based Freecycle and the 30-, 60- and 100-mile rides held on the identical day. There have been some modifications – so what was it like? As has turn into conventional, listed below are 5 ideas in regards to the occasion.
Goodbye Surrey, good day Essex
The primary seven editions of the RideLondon 100 (and its shorter cousins) took riders on the identical route into the Surrey Hills and again. Now it’s Essex, and the distinction is notable. No particularly steep inclines, like Surrey’s Leith Hill, and extra in the best way of broad roads – particularly in London, the place the route out and in, by way of Stratford and past, was one thing of a mini-tour of London’s city motorways and underpasses.
It’s honest to say that the previous route, by way of west London and Richmond Park, was extra scenic, and that beautiful because the Essex lanes are, we noticed comparatively few of them. There’s a cause: one plan was to keep away from fast, slender descents (resembling Leith Hill) to cut back the variety of crashes, and in addition be sure that if somebody did want medical assist it could not necessitate re-routing riders, as occurred in 2016. This yr, a rider did require an air ambulance after a suspected coronary heart assault (the excellent news is they’re understood to be steady in hospital), and whereas that delayed lots of people, me included, the second the air ambulance had gone, riders had been allowed by way of.
Additionally: Surrey didn’t need us any extra. Regardless of residents voting to maintain the occasion in a mini-referendum, the county council determined it was too disruptive. RideLondon organisers say Essex officers had been enthusiastic.
It’s nonetheless very nicely run
You would possibly anticipate this, on condition that RideLondon is put collectively by the identical individuals who have organised the London Marathon for 40 years, however issues do go very easily, and all of the marshals, volunteers and others I encountered had been glorious. The logistics are a bit totally different now. Not beginning within the big areas of the Olympic Park, however on the Embankment, meant the occasion was simpler to get to for a lot of, however there was no room for a bag drop service.
The best way the totally different waves of riders joined the course appeared a bit haphazard, however no less than it averted the earlier expertise of getting to attend round within the morning chill till your group was allowed to go.
Talking to Hugh Brasher, who heads the London Marathon organisers, he confused this as an intention, all of the extra so on condition that street biking is a pursuit which, arguably even by the requirements of organised sport, is disproportionately accomplished by males of a sure age, me amongst them.
The 30-mile occasion was 46% feminine this yr, with the determine for the 100-mile one being 23% – nonetheless pretty low, however 40% up on 2019. Brasher has liaised with incapacity biking and teams representing minority ethnic riders, and when the various-length occasions merged close to the end, it was heartening to see members readily available cycles and trikes, amongst different machines.
Cyclists are remarkably straightforward to organise
That is extra related to on a regular basis driving and metropolis planning, and one thing of a truism, however price stressing: in terms of finite street house, individuals on bikes are very versatile.
This occurred as I waited for the air ambulance amid an unlimited crowd of tightly packed cyclists, one which presumably stretched for miles behind me. However as soon as we obtained going, inside minutes, the hordes had self-organised into stretched-out teams, with none fuss. An analogous-sized site visitors jam involving automobiles – and bear in mind, 22,600 riders began – would have taken all day to type out.
Bear in mind this subsequent time a newspaper prints a photograph of an “empty” cycle lane. It’s not that it’s not getting used; it’s simply that the cyclists have already gone.
100 miles with out (a lot) coaching
To indulge myself with a last level about my very own journey, it’s honest to say I started with some misgivings. Barring a four-day mini coaching break in Could, my whole preparation concerned a three-ish mile each-way commute in work garments on an on a regular basis bike. And but, if I exclude the anticipate the air ambulance, I completed in about 5 hours 10 minutes, solely barely greater than my quickest ever time, once I was about 5 years youthful and significantly better ready.
Sure, I did discover the final 15 or so miles a slog, and I’m limping a bit on stairs, however I used to be shocked. Or perhaps I shouldn’t be? With varied different cycle-based chores, I in all probability common 40 or 50 miles per week of driving. That is the magic of what public well being consultants wish to name incidental exercise – bodily exertion you perform not for formal train, simply in going about your on a regular basis life. It shouldn’t be underestimated.