I thought I would write a post of my experience of last years read Ridelondon 100 with some insights into the course and what to expect as you attempt the 100 miles. This is not for the seasoned professional, but if you are attempting this sort of distance for the 1st time hopefully I can add a few nuggets of knowledge.
The ride actually starts a few days before, basically get some decent food in you. I had a big spaghetti bolognaise the 2 nights before and topped up with Japanese ramen noodles for lunches and porridge oats for breakfast. Plenty of carbs, is what you want. On the day of the ride I had a nice big breakfast – porridge, toast and fruit juices and tea. It is hard to force yourself to eat at that time in the morning but its worth it if you can, you are going to use all those calories. Make sure you got all the gels / flapjack bars or whatever your food favourite is, packed in your easily reachable pocket. Eventually after all that nervous shuffling at the start and your 5th trip to the loo, you will roll out of the start gate with your fellow wave riders. Don’t go too fast at the beginning, I saw a lot of people going off at 20+ miles an hour straight out the gate. Its a long way round and its better to let your legs warm up slowly and your body get fully awake – and remember, the first 2 miles don’t even count !!!, so you are only using energy to get you to the real start line. Once you roll over the start mat (its clearly signposted) you will hear a beep and you are off. Find a group of riders going your speed. I did this by riding at the speed I felt comfortable at and then see who was just coming past me at a slightly faster pace. You can then get into the back of that group and conserve some energy (you are going to need it). Make sure you are taking on fluids regularly, take a drink at least every 20 / 30 mins even if its just a swig. I had two bottles on the bike and its best to make sure you are not going to be short. Top up your bottles when you need to (Hampton Court is a good place for the first refill) and you will get an idea of how much water you are using. Take an energy gel / food or something at regular points. Once you hit the tight turns at Ripley this is a good point to have a really good feed. This gives the food enough time to get into your system for the lumpy Surrey Hills section (about 20-30 mins away). Basically make sure you are fuelled up BEFORE you hit the first big climb. Its too late to start eating once you are hungry and you will run out of energy. After you have done the hills I found it useful to just have a brief stop to jump off the bike for a 5 / 10 mins and stretch out. It resets the muscles a bit and stops the cramps and aches. Don’t be tempted to get off the bike for any longer, you will start to seize up and getting back on will be a very painful experience. I rode my own pace for the hills section and don’t be tempted to chase down faster groups. Be really careful on the decent off Leith hill, as you reach the turn off to Abinger Common the road gets really bad, coupled with some high sided walls there is potential for your day to end early in a pile up. Take it easy and get round in one piece. Once you get to Leatherhead (after Box hill) get a good refill / refuel and find another group to drag you back to London, there are no big hills now, so conserve energy so you have something left for a big finish. Now I said there are no more big hills but there is a nasty little surprise at Wimbledon, so you will be glad to have saved something in the legs. You are probably riding further than you have trained to now. Once you see the buildings are higher than 2 stories, you know you are close. Hang on and just pedal on the atmosphere of the event, it will get you home.
I defy anyone not to have a little sprint on the Mall, even though you think you have nothing left in the legs.