When I saw the bombardment of tweets about those that had been lucky enough to get a place in this year’s RideLondon, I realised I was missing out on something. At the time, I was living in Amsterdam. I didn’t know where I was going to be come August 2013, and I hadn’t really grasped just what RideLondon was at the point of the application deadline back in August 2012.
As more and more friends around me started to brag about their place, I was secretly plotting to turn up and ride the course not wanting to miss out, although I wouldn’t have the medal and official finish time to brag about at the end.
And then, I just happen to see this:
“Calling all female readers – this competition has been extended as we are looking for some female entrants to… fb.me/I2dhuqpJ”
Hmmmm…. This sounds interesting! Thinking nothing of it, I wrote a short profile about my cycling experience and my goals for the year – to start track racing and become a competent hill climber – added a couple of photos and sent it off to CyclingPlus and Bike Radar. Expecting there to be many stronger riders than myself applying, I was rather in shock to open my email one morning the following week to this: “Congratulations! You’ve been picked as 1 of 6 to ride for Team Skoda!” ARGH!! I was stunned. Me? They picked ME?!
Prudential RideLondon is an annual world-class festival of cycling developed by the Mayor of London, London & Partners and Transport for London in partnership with Surrey County Council. Held over the weekend of 3rd and 4th August, Skoda are supporting the weekend as the Official Car Supplier with over 30 support cars provided for the event.
The weekend features a series of events for amateur, club and world elite cyclists, the 100 mile road race will take place on closed-roads through London and Surrey and is expected to attract up to 200,000 visitors and 70,000 cyclists including an eight-mile family-fun ride featuring London’s most iconic landmarks. It’s quite possibly the largest event of it’s kind in the UK, and continuing the legacy of last year’s London Olympics is expected to be a fantastic weekend on two wheels.
Not only do I get to wear Team Skoda kit as I train over the coming months (eagerly sat waiting the postman for delivery) but we also get the privilege of training with Rapha-Condor JLT and Matrix Fitness. This is an unbelievable experience.
On April 17th, I set off to the Welsh town of Pontipridd. Set up on the forecourt of the Skoda garage were the event trailers of Skoda Cycling and the Rapha-Condor JLT and Matrix Fitness support cars, complete with team members. Ed Clancy and James McCallum representing the force of Rapha, and Helen Wyman and Harriet Owen of Matrix Fitness; the latter whom I had the pleasure of spending 60km of challenging Welsh terrain with.
One of the best experiences of the day was having the Matrix Fitness support car with Stefan Wyman up along side me for majority of the ride, who thankfully, provided some much needed motivation and words of advice on the 12% sharp climbs and 5 mile “mini Alpe d’Huez” of the Blwych. In the car with Stefan was our camera man for the day – recording every moment of my ride. Trying to look comfortable (and keep the language clean) on those tough climbs was not easy, especially as all I wanted to do was hold on to the car and let it do the hard work for me – couldn’t have that on camera though! After all, I have 100 miles of tough cycling ahead of me in August.
Getting to ride up, close and personal with pros is a priceless experience – seeing just how they handle certain ride situations, their power output on climbs in comparison to the flats, and receiving general advice from those that know best. And, there was no need for any star-struck moments, they were typically happy to share their passion for the bike with us.
For once, Wales stayed dry and fairly warm apart from a decent headwind which only helped as a natural break reaching 70kmph on the decent from the top of the Blwych. Wales, which will feature highly in this year’s Tour of Britain, can be best described as the ‘Alps on our doorstep’. Fantastic challenging climbs perfect for a long-weekend without the long travel time. And, the boys from Ajax Cycling Club who lead us out that day, would be more than happy to lead you out on a Sunday too!
For more information about RideLondon visit: http://www.prudentialridelondon.co.uk
You can also track our progress in Cycling Plus magazine over the coming months, or following #teamskoda.
Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!