We recently asked one of our wonderful Ride London participants to tell us all about his training experience and how he felt as he geared up to take on the big ride. Well, on Sunday Martyn did just that! Here he shares what he got up to in the final days before the challenge and what it was like to cycle 100 miles for our charity. Over to you, Martyn…
Written by Martyn Eggleton.
Almost time to ace the race
I like tapering (that’s when you spend some time before your event to allow yourself to maintain your fitness, but to lose your fatigue), it’s got to be my favourite part of this endurance training lark. After nine weeks of building up distance and four weeks of 100 miles each, the two weeks of cycling around sixty miles were lovely. And, for the first time in three months my legs didn’t ache, bliss!
On one of my rides, I came up to County Durham (where it’s a bit flatter) for a few days riding, and while I was there I popped in to see my Grandma. Then I got everything packed. My memory issues mean that I can easily muck stuff up by forgetting the tiniest thing, so my lists for packing and stuff to do each day were extensive. And yes, at one point I did have a list of the lists I needed to write.
With everything packed and the bike already in the Sheffield Cycling Hub down at the station I woke up super early and decided to watch some anime to calm my already jangling nerves. Next thing I know the phone is ringing, it’s 5.30am and my cab is outside. Oops, better get dressed then. But lists to the rescue and I was out of the door in a minute. Paying the extra fiver for first class was a good idea for leg room and getting the tube across London with a bike was remarkably straightforward – I arrived at the place I was staying in Plaistow after a five minute ride.
I then set off for the registration at Excel. I made a conscious decision to set off early so that I could arrive before lunchtime, because working at the registration for the London Marathon in the past told me that Saturday afternoon would be crazy busy. I met a few unfortunates who made that error while we were on the course the day after and they were still stressed!
The big day…
On the day of the ride I was out of the Airb’n’b by 6.30am, and then headed to the start. I had a route programmed in but there was a steady stream of people with numbers on heading past so I followed them down to the Greenway. As we made our way, following the ‘to the start’ signs, it got busier and busier. Then, when we turned off into the Olympic Park there was just a sea of bikes. Being tall, I could appreciate this beautiful sight. I got into the start pen with an hour to wait, so I spent some time chatting to other riders.
As we neared the start line, most of my tech failed – my speedo kept resetting its clock and changing things, so I set off thinking I had no info at all – a bit disconcerting, but there was no point in fretting. I tried to spot people who looked fit and tried to keep up with them for the first 10km. Then, everything started working again so I got my current speed back and knew that if I stuck to 25kph on the flat I’d be on target. My plan included pace notes, but the clock had reset itself to something random so I could only tell where I was on the plan at each food stop.
The stops were brilliantly organised, they had everything you needed and the volunteers were great. I knew I would have trouble with my hands so I had planned for eight or nine stops along the way, which I did, although most of them I just walked through so that I could eat a bar, have my bottles topped up and give my wrists a rest.
The hills weren’t bad. Getting around people so I could go fast enough not to weave was the biggest issue on Leith Hill, until I tried to shift down whilst on the granny gear and my chain jumped off and totally jammed the back wheel, meaning I had to carry it for about a kilometre. I got to the road side mechanic, dropped the bike back down, heard a ‘clink’ and looked down to see the chain move back into place. The mechanic looked at me a bit puzzled, as I just seemed to just stop carrying the bike and ride off!
As we were going through the country roads the supporters were great. Kids, who had collected 800 high-fives from riders, people who jumped off their deckchairs to help change tyres. The people of London and Surrey were fantastic too, volunteers were everywhere, cheering all through the towns and villages.
The last climb to Wimbledon was so quick – I was sure I was only halfway up at the last feed station. I’d run short of food by this point, so I stuffed my face with sweets. Not sure if it was the sugar or the relief that it was the last hill, but I came out of there like my wheels were on fire! There I was banging along the side of Wimbledon Common singing the Wombles song.
Making it to The Mall
I knew I was ahead of my pace for 8:30 but the roads heading into Central London were flat and the crowds louder. I knew I wanted to save a bit for the final sprint. And then…there it was, The Mall. I’ve always watched the Marathon and I was lucky enough to work for the organisers – I’ve even ran over Tower Bridge once. But being able to sprint full pelt down The Mall like my heroes was just amazing. The thunder sticks on the barriers, the people cheering, it was just ace.
I finished the ride in 08:03:29 and I am so happy. Considering I started pretty much from cold, to get close to the time that Mark, Revitalise’s Events Manager, predicted for me was great. I’m also really glad that with the support of my friends and family, I got to raise so much for Revitalise. I’m completely addicted to my bike, so who knows where it will take me next…