Pru Ride London 2019 – A Blast

I had a great Pru Ride London at the weekend, perhaps the most enjoyable to-date as both the weather and my legs were on good form.

I started in Wave 2, which is a great place to be as it avoids negotiating numerous groups of slower riders as well as offering a real chance to keep up with your fellow riders and even, god forbid, put in a turn or two at the front. Despite starting in Wave 2 we didn’t quite finish in Wave 2 as we had an intentional DNF, dropping out at Kingston – basically, I live really close to there and didn’t fancy a train ride home from Central London. But, hey, I kept up with the group, kept up with my cycling buddy and had plenty in the tank at the end. I was also home in time to have a full family-Sunday. Perfect.

Ridewithgps: generic route link (subsequent years might vary slightly)

Before we get to the gadgets a heads up to whoever crashed near Surbiton. I hope you are well. That looked very nasty. FYI: A guy at the front flew up in the air on a flat bit and headed 5 or so metres to the pavement on the right-hand side. I’d never quite seen anything like it before and I was amazed that you were sitting up so quickly.

Gadgets + Kit

I dusted off my Speccy Tarmac. Ah, the joys of non-Di2, 10-speed gears. Well, it was more the joys of a very light bike for going up hills.

I had myDuraAce wheels, which I like. I did try various other DT Swiss and Mavic combinations but I had issues with 25mm tyres that I didn’t fancy and 11-speed cassettes that wouldn’t work;  then I found 10-speed cassettes that had too many teeth for my SRAM derailleur cage. Blah blah. Basically, I wasted about 3 hours when all I had to do was change my 32T 11-speed cassette to an 11-28T 10 speed one with a spacer. 3 hours vs 5 minutes…sigh. The DuraAce wheels do add a bit of unnecessary weight on the hills but they’re relatively quick elsewhere. More to the point, I couldn’t be bothered to change my awesome 23″ Conti GP5000 tyres onto another wheelset…another reason I resorted to the default Shimanos.

See: Even Simon agrees (same wheels)

 

 

I also agonised about what electronic gadgets to use. My ELEMNT has a damaged mount connector but the ELEMNT BOLT was good to go and, handily, it’s mount was on the Tarmac already. I also agonised about using Xert’s MPA and FAT/CARBS CIQ apps with the Garmin Forerunner 945 (which I did). Moxy? No. HRM? Yes and that was about it. In reality, my main motivator and pace smoother was ‘the guy in front’s back tyre’. The gadgets were just there to record all the stuff, I don’t think I looked at them much other than to wave goodbye to my FTP number as I went up the hills.

So many gadgets…so little time to actually use them.

The hardest thing about Ride London 100 is the “100”. 100 miles (160km) is a long way if you haven’t trained for it. I probably only do 3 or 4 100 mile rides a year, not many, but I can get by over the 100 miles easily enough. The hills are an especial challenge if you have the wrong gearing and a bike that weighs as much as your nephew’s mountain bike. The more challenging hills are Newlands Corner (avg 5%, max 8%), Leith Hill (avg 7% and max of 10%), Box Hill (avg 5%, max 12%) and a nasty little bit at Wimbledon towards the end when you might be getting tired (I didn’t do that bit this year). They’re all perfectly manageable in themselves but they can turn a challenging 100 miles into an ordeal for some people.

I was very impressed with myself this year and actually overtook quite a lot of people on the hills in my group, mostly the big guys to be fair. Maybe it was the bike, maybe it was saving a few grams by having my appendix out? who knows? Nevertheless, I didn’t even get an oveall power-duration PB but STRAVA showed lots of PRs for lots of segments on the route. I’ve done it 3 times before so I will take them all in good faith.

Anyway, it’s great fun. If you are thinking of doing it the PITA is a) getting a place and b) collecting your number the day before the race from East London and then c) staying in East London. Even if you live/work in SW London, like me, it’s a PITA to do all of that on the other side of town. Probably as much of a pain as if you are coming in from outside of London. But putting all that to one side, if you’ve never done it, it’s a great experience to ride in a peloton on closed roads, in awesome cycling weather with lots of generally sensible and competent riders. Start off later than I did and you might have a different experience.

 

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