Chiswick Cycling Club Take Part in the Ride London 100

One of the twenty members participating recounts his experience

Chiswick riders on The Mall prior to their ride

Chiswick Cycling Club (CCC) had over twenty members taking part in this year’s Ride London 100. The club met in Chiswick at 5:45am and cycled up to the start together. There were more than twenty of us and it was quite fun, (perhaps the most fun part of the day,) being in a large gang cycling at a relaxed pace with not much traffic around. We arrived in the start funnel and dismounted to approach the start about a kilometre away. I don’t know why but I was rather tickled by the sign announcing, “last Toilet before the start.”

The event set off in waves and we gradually filtered towards the start line as the waves in front of us moved off. It was quite cold at 8 or 9 degrees C but fortunately the sun shone on us whilst we queued which prevented it being uncomfortable. We arrived at the front mounted up and were sent through the start on the Embankment with loud blaring music for the first 1000 meters. The start was quite relaxed as with so many bikes around it was not possible to zoom off.

Over the first few miles the pack started to spread slightly and the pace quickened. After that it was quite crazy for the first twenty miles. Like cycling in a large peloton without any discipline, bikes to the left of you, bikes the right of you and on they rode. I was fortunate and got through without an accident, but one club member crashed in the first 8 minutes and wrote off his frame. I had not made any specific arrangements to ride with anyone but followed someone I knew as a ride leader for the first few miles. I then picked up the wheel of another club member and followed him. This was harder than it sounds. He was having to weave through a chaotic mass of cyclists with gaps randomly opening and closing and I was dealing with others trying to steal his wheel whilst I navigated the closing gaps he had just gone through. Mad and dangerous but quite fun.

We picked up another club member along the way and then caught another club member who I had cycled with on the formal club rides that teach us how to ride in a group. This turned out to be the group that I rode with for most of the ride. It was fun riding on closed roads but rather disconcerting to ride straight through red traffic lights. We did have to stop occasionally at official pedestrian crossings Officials walked into the road with tall red lollypops to warn the approaching riders but the fearful cry of those at the front shouting “stopping” was probably the most effective communication. The twenty-mile marker arrived surprisingly quickly.

I was pleased that we had ridden a scoping ride over the accessible parts of the course on the last bank holiday. Whilst they say Essex is flat and certainly there were no 14% hills it is very undulating and 1200m of climbing even over 100 miles is not nothing. Several kilometres of consistent 4% or 5% slopes is quite hard, (at least it is for me,) and having ridden them previously I knew they would come to an end. The first 60 miles or so was very busy. We were overtaking others whilst some groups were shooting past us like we were hardly moving. The overall atmosphere was very friendly but at one point we were passed by a rider who paused to give us stick for coming from Chiswick and departed with the comment that we could afford it because we were rich. No, no idea what it is we could afford.

We lost one of our group as he stopped at a welfare station for a comfort break. However a few miles later the whole race ground to a halt and he caught us up. It was reported on the news that about mile 49 as we approached Braintree the race was stopped because of a serious medical incident. We were quite near the front where the incident took place. After being stopped for about 5 minutes a man came through the crowd explaining they had a medical helicopter, but they needed to stabilise the patient and we would be there some time so eat and keep warm. Just in front of us was a group from Braintree Cycling Club who said they knew a way round, so we followed them as they walked 100 meters back up the road and set off down a side road with several hundred others in tow. Right and right again and we were back on the route in front of the emergency adding about 1k to the route.

The four of us rode together quite well sharing the work. At one point we had a group of about 20 riders following us without offering to contribute. The others were a bit peeved at this, but I found it flattering. As the miles unfolded the surrounding cyclists thinned out and after about 60 miles there was much more room on the road. I think quite a lot of people had stopped for a rest at one of the various welfare stations. Several people had come out to clap and shout encouragement and they seemed to appreciate a wave, especially the children, although I didn’t do much of that whilst cycling uphill.

One of the most difficult things to deal with on the ride was eating. Trying to find a convenient moment to swallow when gasping for air is really quite difficult. I find it surprising riders don’t end up requiring treatment for choking on their food. The gels are easier but if you don’t want stomach cramps or the runs its best to mix them up with the consumption of other food. My choice is various flavours of flapjack. I found the easiest place to store the used packets was up the side of my cycling shorts. One of the many advantages of lycra. Drinking is not so bad if you are careful not to drop the bottle and pick a moment when you are unlikely to have to brake. I was perplexed about changing the bottles around until an experienced club member suggested holding the used bottle in the teeth whilst moving the other forward, that works.

Passing the 50 mile marker is quite a cheery moment as you know from then on that there is less far to go than you have ridden. It was quite hard all the way round on the uphill and flat bits but from halfway the fatigue begins to build on top of the basic effort and the last twenty miles was really very hard. With about 10 miles to go two of the others dropped back. The last five miles was on major roads into the centre of London one underpass or overpass after another. After you have ridden 95 miles these uphill bits onto the overpass or out of the underpass seem very steep and are certainly hard. If I had not been riding with someone, I’m not sure I could have kept it up but with shared suffering and knowledge we had kept up a good pace we kept it going. The last couple of miles seemed to go on forever and Tower Bridge did not come into sight until the last few hundred meters which was a huge relief. As we rode onto the Bridge and approached the finish, I thanked my companion for getting me to the finish and we grasped hands in mutual appreciation and then rode across the line together. I saved the ride on my Garmin and was surprised to be informed that somewhere on that ride was my fastest 40k!? Overall I had completed the ride in 5:19:20 at an average 31kmph. Dead chuffed.

If anyone is interested in joining CCC drop an email to or look at the website at Chiswick Cycling Club.

Christopher Shea


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June 13, 2022