A tale of Ride London
After all the months of preparation, and 7 hours 41 minutes in the saddle, I finally crossed the finishing line of Ride London yesterday afternoon. It was an emotional moment, and the deafening beating of the crowds on the barriers even spurred me on to a sprint finish! It is hard to encapsulate quite what the day means, and to ‘gather’ all the impressions in any meaningful way. Instead, here are some ‘snatches’ from the day.
- Stopping outside Richmond station at 5.30am to chat live to BBC London about the ride.
- Talking to BBC Surrey and BBC Sussex live from the start pen at 8.15. (With a follow-up this morning including an enquiry live on air about how my ‘nether regions’ had survived the day!)
- The thrill of setting off under the starting bridge and heading off in a big group, bells dinging and whoops of excitement through the first tunnel.
- Sorrow for the people caught up in an early crash on the Strand and a later calamity on Leith Hill.
- The incredible power of encouragement, spurred on by people cheering from the roadside.
- Feeling surprised that the last 10 (flat) miles were the hardest.
- Choked with emotion on coming under Admiralty Arch and seeing the finish line ahead.
My two most lasting impressions, though, are of persistence and partnership.
Persistence – this is a mass participation event, with some 26,000 riders taking part. There is much camaraderie along the way, with practical roadside help and encouragement to each other as you pass by. Having said that, it is a massive individual challenge for every participant. When it comes down to it, every rider – from the novice to the experienced club cyclist, must ride their own 100 miles and nobody can do it for them.
Partnership – from the day I signed up to ride this race for Tommy’s, it has been a partnership. They have provided advice and encouragement every step of the way – from a welcome email, to encouraging phone calls, and even Jelly Babies after crossing the finishing line. Having done a similar event before with another charity – I can truly say that this makes all the difference.
In the end, though, my partnership with Tommy’s is not the one which matters most. It is a partnership with un-named parents who will lose their precious baby today, or others who are frightened to try again because they lost the baby last time. Every one of my 28,000 pedal revolutions was for them. Turning the wheels is so much easier than all that they go through – and I was glad to do it for them. Tommy’s will be caring for them today, and tomorrow, and every day after that – and I am so pleased to have made some contribution to their work.