James Smith, from Dorking took on the 100 mile challenge, RideLondon, on Sunday 2nd August.

A year ago, James started to get into cycling as something to do during the summer. One of his closest friends runs the Giro cycling café in Esher and he now leads some of their development rides helping people of all ages and abilities to feel more confident on their bikes.

The loss of a good friend last year put things into perspective, and compelled him to do more for charity. He now really enjoys doing as much as he can to help charities, and has set himself a target to cycle 3500km over the four months of summer in memory of his friend.

James said: “If more people and more charities benefit at the same time then that can only be a good thing”.

Training for RideLondon

James told us:

“I didn’t really follow a training programme, in fact, I didn’t really cycle during winter as it was pretty grim. I went out on my bike over Easter and cycled 50miles which was the longest I’d cycled in a while and it felt pretty good. After that, I averaged about 200km a week.” James has previously taken part in the Paris half marathon but found he definitely has a preference for cycling: “I feel like you can get somewhere on a bike, you can go out in a group or cycle with some friends to a pub in the countryside. I was never much of an adrenaline junkie before, but now I really get a kick out of cycling – and descending.”


Having raised a huge chunk of his sponsorship target in just a few days, we were interested to know how he did it:

“I sent an email out every day at work, and persistence certainly paid off as people were really generous and are still donating now. I sent an email out after the event as well to let people know how I did and shared my page on social media - those who felt inclined to give, gave a fiver or tenner - it soon adds up.”

RideLondon itself

“I loved every minute of the day. The best bit was probably coming into my hometown, Dorking, and seeing my friends and family. Riding in such sheer numbers is so different so I would certainly encourage anyone thinking of signing up to get used to cycling in groups. Riding on roads that Wiggins and the other professional cyclists would come down just a few minutes later was incredible – there are not many other sports which allow you to do that so it’s pretty unique.

There’s also a big community feel with cyclists and everyone tries to help each other out. Taking part gave me such a massive sense of achievement. It makes you feel really good about yourself. It’s about setting yourself a target beyond your usual limitations and going for it. If you said to me a year ago that I would have cycled RideLondon in under 6 hours I would have said no chance!

The United Response pre-ride drinks reception was great too and was a good chance to meet people. I really enjoyed that side of things, oh and the cycling jerseys were great, I didn’t expect them to be such good quality but they were.”

James’ finish time was 6 hours 56 with a total cycling period of 5 hours 48. He’s already looking to sign up next year to beat his time.

If James has inspired you to cycle RideLondon 2016, why not join our team? Don't miss out, make sure you apply before the 27th May deadline. 

Register for RideLondon 2016

James was talking to Natalie Millbank, community and events fundraiser