Only we would choose to start our first group training ride on the morning that 50,000 people were due to take part in the RideLondon event around central london, and only we would agree to meet in Trafalgar Square bang in the middle of the closed off course – the words ‘p**s up’ and ‘brewery’ spring to mind!
Anyway at 7am we set off boldly down the Mall and within 30 seconds were enjoying the screams of a security shouting “DO NOT GO DOWN THE MALL” – which we wisely ignored and blissfully rode towards Buckingham Palace and onwards to glory.
The first 15-20 miles were spent mostly waiting at traffic lights whilst navigating out of West London – nothing great to see and not the best part of the ride by a long way. Richmond Park was the first real beauty spot, complete with glorious sunshine, plenty of deer and buckets of time trial riders swooshing past in blurry sponsored pelotons. Windsor Castle and Windsor Great Park was another highlight, as was James H’s sulk about getting lost and wasting valuable Strava points while stood still studying the map. By this point it was all going rather too well for comfort so Lieutenant Holliday obliged by testing his new helmet out twice in 10 minutes – both incidents took plenty of skin off the arms and legs but thankfully nothing worse.
We cruised down gorgeous country lanes as far as Reading, whereafter our route took us the rest of the way on the A4 – the most direct route in terms of miles, but also least enjoyable. Nevertheless we dug deep, finished off the last of the flapjack bars and pressed on for Speen. Seeing a sign for 9 miles to Newbury we enjoyed a brief boost in morale (at this point James H knew full well that the 9 miles referred only to the junction for Newbury, and it was more like 15 miles – but he sensibly kept this to himself until the end).
2.30pm and we rolled triumphantly up to the beautiful Speen House, to much back slapping and satisfied sighs. 79 miles give or take – so all in all a VERY good start. Mad props especially to Gabriel who did the whole thing without a single moan on his much heavier and less well geared commuter bike, complete with panniers, as opposed to a road bike – great work!Many more to come…