Ride London 2023 (RideLondon)
After making my thoughts plain on Ride London 2022, I had no intention of racing RideLondon today. However, a friend dropped out and the weather was perfect so it was rude not to.
Race Changes Since 2022
I won’t dwell too much on the course other than to say there seemed to be more marshalls this year and many parts of the route had been road swept and a few potholes also seem to have been recently repaired. I felt safer this year but the organisers still need to improve these areas:
- The signage was either not great or non-existent. Were it not for my Garmin I wouldn’t always have known the nature of the upcoming corner. Organiser: You can’t see a traffic cone when you are 200m away doing 30mph with 4 people surrounding you and less than 1m away. Novice riders are doing 30mph in pelotons…it’s inherently dangerous.
- Marshalls on danger points need to marshall and do their job. I don’t want encouragement at those times I want clear instruction.
- I saw quite a lot of punctures in the early riders. The entire course needs properly sweeping, especially bends.
I appreciate some of these cost money but when you maximise profits you risk someone dying or getting seriously injured.
Plus. Sponsored by Ford. Really? I guess green-washed sponsorship pays well.
My Lead up to the race
In the UK, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, which means we have a public holiday on Monday. I looked around for an impromptu sprint triathlon but didn’t find one, so at the start of the week I’d already given up hope on the idea of participating in any kind of race. Then I got a free place (from a friend not from the organisers).
I didn’t do any specific training for today’s race as I hadn’t planned to participate. I didn’t feel great on Thursday, so I skipped training and had an easy day on Friday when I also didn’t feel great. I suppose that could be considered a taper if I count a few sprints on Saturday.
I had all my A1 kit at home and working, along with all my various supplements. So that was good. I had been cycling quite a bit in recent months, although mostly focused on intensity rather than endurance. I don’t think I’ve gone much over 60 miles since Ride London last year (perhaps I have, but just said as an indication of my training), and I’m also having a quiet year this year and the next in terms of racing. #WheresMyMojo
Regarding my pre-race nutrition, I had two beetroot juices on Saturday and a bowl of pasta and two fried eggs in the evening. You can’t beat protein for fuel (hmmm?!?)
At 4:20am I cycled to the start line for a 6 am kick-off. It was quite cold, and I had to wear clothes that could easily be removed later and stowed as it was going to be a very warm day.
The ride over Teddington Lock and through the mists of Richmond Park was truly beautiful – much nicer than any section of the Ride London route. The streets of London were also pleasantly empty.
I started in the first wave with a friend who ended up finishing in a tad over 4 hours. I lost sight of him one-third of the way, but that was alright.
Like many others, my plan was to draft wherever possible throughout the entire race. However, I couldn’t resist going to the front of my pack several times. Predictably, I gave it too much, got dropped, and had to cycle on my own until the next group caught up. This happens to me every time, and I’m not entirely sure why I don’t learn from my mistakes. Oh well, it’s still enjoyable!
I experienced early-stage cramps in the last 10 km, but I managed to keep going. I had anticipated that being a problem, and to be honest, I was pleased that I made it as far as I did before got a twinge. I don’t think I was lacking in fuel or salt, maybe just slightly low on water. I also used some magnesium spray on the muscles (adductors) that I expected to cramp before the race, which might have helped stave them off.
I felt like I had lots of energy and had a comfortable Z2/Z3 heart rate most of the time. But my muscles aren’t getting any younger.
The course traverses some pretty dire parts of London on the way out and back. Epping Forest is probably nice but you can’t really see it on the route. The old Surrey route was infinitely nicer. Similarly, the Surrey Hills are pretty awesome, Essex?…less so. I think the route was essentially the same in 2022 and 2023. It includes some silly unpleasant bits in Docklands to make up the miles but then includes too many and, I believe, as a 2-mile neutralised zone which doesn’t count towards your time.
I was fully carb-loaded and well-hydrated from the beginning and a Beet-It on the start line and when I woke finished the liquids prep. The bathroom stop at the start line helped take care of a mild case of pre-race nerves. Life was good…
I managed with two full bottles of liquid during the 4+ hour ride. However, the issue for me with liquids is that even slight overconsumption leads me to make pit stops. In this race, I still had to do that once, wasting around 3-5 minutes.
- Salt: I went a bit overboard with Precision Hydration salts before the race and added them to each bottle. I find that salt helps with water retention and/or the absorption of water in my gut… either way, it’s beneficial for me! Despite being a sweaty person, the weather was warm and not too hot, and I only had a small amount of white sweat salt on my clothing by the end of the race.
- Caffeine: I took the correct dose of caffeine before the race but forgot to replenish it during the race, which I usually do with caffeinated gels. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel like the lack of caffeine top-up made much of a difference to my feel or performance. (6x Proplus is the correct amount for a 70kg rider before a race…too much hinders lactate clearance for no positive gain)
- Curranz – 2 tabs a day before race day and on race day is enough to make sure your body uses just a bit more fat as a fuel source than normal (only proven whilst exercising, it’s not a diet thing)
- Creatine Monohydrate: I included this in each bottle and had some before the race. I’m fairly certain it has positive effects and helps reduce muscle burn during intense efforts.
- SiS Beta dual source fuel: I had a moment of panic on Saturday night when I realized I only had one sachet of powder left, so I used that in one of the bottles. For the other bottle, I improvised and used some of Precision Hydration’s 90g carb gel, which is a thick gel and usually quite pleasant to consume.
- KetoneIQ: I also went overboard with the new KetoneIQ supplement and had 6 (two before and two in each bottle). Ketones (specifically the R form of 1,3-Butanediol) are free of carbs, fats, and proteins but contain calories ie exercise fuel. They can be absorbed through the gut wall, providing additional energy alongside carbs. There’s some debate about how ketones and glucose are utilized together as fuel. Nevertheless, I believe they probably work for me. Note there are several types of natural ketones but they absolutely DO NOT work in the same way (BHB Ketone esters also work but have a shorter effective duration of action) even the non-R form of 1,3-Butanediol doesn’t work and your partner’s raspberry ketones for dieting don’t work at all for anything!.
Kit & Gadgets
These are my fave bits of kit and I’d recommend anything here
- Shimano RC-903: Stiff race shoes that are awesome. I recently experimented with a right-side shim and cleat position adjustments, resulting in a good left-right power balance, which is usually skewed towards the left side.
- Aero socks: ~I fell for the trend! Not sure about the brand, but I purchased them from Wiggle. Surprisingly, they stayed up throughout the entire race, which apparently is unusual for aero socks aka socks.
- Assos shorts and top: Both comfortable and snug, from a reputable brand. I have some tri-suits that I believe are faster due to aero effects on the shoulders (and elsewhere) but lacked enough storage for today’s requirements so weren’t worn.
- Coefficient Cycling RR Road bars: Incredibly comfortable for me, aesthetically pleasing, and allow for tidier Di2 cabling. They probably save at least 5 watts compared to my older bars.
- Specialized Evade 3 S-Works aero road helmet: Well-fitting and potentially provides a few watts of savings.
- Hunt Aerodymaicist 82mm with Ceramic Speed bearings: Deep-section wheels that produce a delightful sound and offer speed gains. They are slightly wider than some of my other fast wheels, and the optimal tire width/pressure combination provides added comfort. This was a relatively flat race and so the slight extra weight made little difference.
- Conti GP5000 26mm tires at 80psi, possibly with latex tubes: I might have one of my last Tubolito tubes in one of them (I definitely had one as a tiny and light spare)
- Garmin HRM-PRO: I have the PLUS version still in the box and am waiting for the HRM-PRO to fail due to a broken battery closure.
- Garmin Edge 540: The race day feature came in handy as it displayed the route earlier in the morning. It saved me from having to search for instructions on how to load the course. Found several new bugs and annoyances.
- Stages Gen 3 on Dura Ace 165mm: Recently switched to shorter cranks, which has improved my comfort on longer rides and potentially increased my overall power levels. Also installed new bottom bracket bearings last week, nothing fancy.
- Garmin Varia 515: Unfortunately ran out of battery despite being fully charged last night and despite this particular Varia being less than 6 months old. #Odd. Luckily, there weren’t many cars on the course, except for one going in the wrong direction, which could have been dangerous. Cycling joys and poor race management!
- Apple Watch 7 stainless steel and Forerunner 965: Wore both just because I could.
- Supersapiens: I decided not to use one for some unfathomable reason. Doh. Still recommended tho and now back in stock.
- Cervelo R5 with a mix of 11-speed Ultegra and Di2 Dura-Ace components: The 12-speed Dura Ace chain shifts smoothly, and I lubricated it last night with some SQUIRT chain lube I found from a few years ago!
- My Garmin Performance Condition was -1 for the entire duration. #Odd
- Garmin Stamina on the Edge 540 started at about 90%, and was down to zero with an hour to go. To be fair to the algorithm I hadn’t cycled that far for ages so it might assume I was incapable of doing it…I clearly am!
I had a nice day out and was disappointed, but not surprised, that my cycling buddy dropped me at 30ish miles. Still, 100+ miles of London and the Essex countryside were lovely to behold on a typically sunny English day. At the Tower Bridge finish, I was pleasantly exhausted and more than happy enough with a good time and not crashing. The whole round trip was 200kms…ouch!
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