Our very own director of communications and fundraising, Diane Lightfoot and her father, Jeff, not only took on Ride London yesterday, but the stormy conditions of Hurricane Bertha. Diane tells us about an impressive ride her training couldn’t have prepared her for...


Back in March, when I told people I had signed up to do the Prudential RideLondon 100, they invariably said "won't it be a bit too hot?" to which my standard reply was "I don't mind it hot, it's the wind and the rain that I'm worried about". They'd then look sceptical and say "in August?" and I'd think "how long have you lived in this country..?" But even I hadn't reckoned on facing the might of Hurricane Bertha!


So, yesterday morning my lovely Dad and I set off early (I would say bright and early, but at 4.30am it was still pretty dark) to head off for the Olympic park for our first ever sportive. Our first hurdle was negotiating the stairs at the Woolwich Foot Tunnel as the lift wasn't working; suffice to say that carrying a bicycle down a slippery metal spiral staircase when you are wearing shoes with metal plates in the bottom is not the best place to be at 5.30am on a Sunday morning! But we made it safe and sound and were soon lined up ready for the off.


As we passed the start line, we learned that due to the weather (of which more - a lot more - later), the route had been shortened to 86 miles and we wouldn't be going up Leith or Box Hills. A shame; but we'd practised them in training so at least we could say we'd cycled up them!


Before we knew it, we were off! It was a truly surreal experience to be cycling down the A12 with no worries about traffic and then to sweep through central London; down Piccadilly, past the Ritz and onto an unrecognisably quiet Hyde Park Corner before heading out to Richmond. Which is when the weather began to make its presence felt!


An early crash meant a walk through Richmond Park in light rain, which soon turned into a deluge of biblical proportions as we reached Hammersmith! Nonetheless, the roads were still lined with brave and incredibly appreciated supporters, cheering us on (we could just about see them) as we pressed on.


Cycling ankle deep in water through flooded underpasses was something we hadn't trained for, but at least there comes a point when it is impossible to get any wetter! Seeing the wonderful United Response team as we passed through Kingston for the first time was a real boost and then we were on out to the Surrey Hills. 


We were determined to showcase the stylish United Response cycling jerseys as we passed back through Kingston and, much to our relief, on the approach back to London the rain finally stopped we actually got to feel the sun on our backs.


The return through central London, past the Houses of Parliament, down Whitehall and up the Mall was stunning - an amazing experience - and to find that we had done a total time of 6 hours and 4 minutes, despite all the hazards, was very pleasing.


How do I feel having done it? In truth - sad it's over, disappointed not to have done the full route and... waiting for the ballot to open so that I can do it again next year!


Meanwhile a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us - we raised over £2,000

Find out more about riding for United Response in 2015 by visiting our event page or emailing [email protected] 

Diane Lightfoot, director of communications and fundraising.