Our first rider to take on the new RideLondon 46 route, Lola tells us how it went...

If I thought waking up at seven on a weekend for training was early, it was good practice for waking up at five in the morning for Ride London. I cycled to New Cross Gate to get the train to Dalston Junction and then ride to Stratford for the start. It was a good warm up, which made me feel a bit more prepared.

I was a bit worried that I’d get lost on the way to Stratford, but I easily followed fellow cyclists who also had numbers on their helmets and bikes. I felt prepared but also oddly not at all prepared in some ways, this being my first sporting event. When I got in my pen with the others, I was a bit nervous about cycling right next to a load of bikes.

Being released from the start line was interesting and it felt a bit odd to cycle directly on what was a main road, but I didn’t get as close to other bikes as I thought I did. As part of the ride, you get a variety of things to tack onto your bike, including a long sticker which gives you an idea of the mileage of each stop and how far along you are— I accidentally stuck this to a pamphlet instead! It did make the ride a bit harder, especially when I confidently passed the first drink station and ended up finishing the rest of my water miles before I’d get to the next one.

During my training, I barely ever stopped or I did for only a couple of minutes after trekking up a big hill, so I partially wanted to do the whole ride without stopping very much, but the hubs offered snacks, water and even some handy energy snacks which were oddly tasty. I was expecting the energy gel to be gritty and potentially gross, but the chocolate one actually tasted a bit more like frosting.

Passing the United Response cheering station in Kingston gave me just the encouragement I needed after a few testing hills — nothing as bad as the monster hill in Richmond Park where I trained, but still quite difficult after 30 or so miles. Other charities and groups also offered cheers which helped keep things going and by the end, I was glad to take as many energy bars as they’d let me! I couldn’t wait to nab a medal which I felt I’d thoroughly earned.

The only thing I’d do differently is to find a mate who could pull me out of bed at the weekends for training and who could have gone with me on the ride. It can get a bit lonely even with a group of other United Response riders out there. I am definitely glad I did it and I’m excited that I accomplished something that was particularly unusual for me.

I’m happy to keep cycling to work still, but I think I’m going to give my Richmond Park training a bit of a rest until next year perhaps.
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