VSO Supporter, Chris Merry, signed up to cycle Ride London in support of VSO in 2014. It would be the biggest cycle challenge of his life. Not only did Chris have to contend with the 100 mile course, the weather turned against him. It rained all day. But this didn’t put Chris off the event, in fact, he did it again in 2015.
Chris shares his experiences.
Could I actually cycle 100 miles?
Could I actually cycle 100 miles? In 2014 when I signed up to my first Ride London event I was quite nervous. Other than childhood bike riding, I was new to cycling – in fact I had to buy myself a bike. This was going be to a challenge. However, with training and encouragement from friends and family I soon felt ready for the challenge and was looking forward to the day. Until I saw the weather forecast.
I managed a total of fifteen minutes of dry cycling before the skies opened up. It then proceeded to rain for the next four and half hours. It was a challenge. But I was determined to see the finish line. After all I had put a lot of effort in to getting ready and I had managed to get sponsorship for VSO. I didn’t want to let anyone down.
It was a great feeling crossing the line that day, despite the hardship I felt elated. In fact I found that I had really enjoyed the challenge - so much so I signed up to it again the following year.
Cycling in the sun
The weather in 2015 was so different. It was like cycling in a summer carnival – the sun was shining and everyone was excited about the challenge ahead. It was an incredible day and I certainly enjoyed the riding more without the constant rain. I also finished the route faster than my son which was a bonus.
The atmosphere on the day
Arriving at Olympic Park before the ride starts, there is always a huge sense of anticipation in the air. There is so much going on. With people registering, last minute tinkering and crowds of well-wishers making themselves heard. All to the background of live music. There is also the opportunity to spot celebrities, many of whom also take part.
The iconic route
The route takes you along deserted London streets, through Canary Wharf, the City of London, the West End and through Richmond Park. Then you head out of London into Surrey and pass through Kingston-upon-Thames, past the VSO headquarters - where there is always the loudest cheering!
The next stretch is through the Surrey hills, past Hampton Court and back into London through Wimbledon and along the river. Past the Houses of Parliament and finishing on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.
The event is well organised, with lots of feed stations on the course where riders are met by hearty cheers.
Whatever the weather, you can be sure there will lots of people out along the route supporting you on the day. It is like the London Marathon – but for bikes.
Crossing the finish line
The final three miles sum up the event for me. Cycling along the river along the car-free streets is unforgettable. Cheered on by crowds of enthusiastic spectators. As you turn the last corner onto Whitehall the cheers from the crowd are deafening.
Thousands of people, many of whom had never done anything like this before, push themselves to the limit and actually enjoy it.
I would recommend this event to anyone – it is tough, but the sense of achievement is unbeatable.
VSO has a few places left for the event in 2016 on Sunday 31 July. Find out more and sign up here
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