Preparing for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100

RideLondon training tips by Gerda Mathews

I hope you’ve all applied for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for 2018….?

I entered the ballot last year for the first time and got accepted for this year’s ride and it was an awesome experience. Not only because of the closed roads and great support along the route (especially in Esher – thanks DV!), but also because I had trained hard for it. The training made it an enjoyable rather than a painful experience. Considering that I only joined the club in August two years earlier, with a hybrid bike and needed to be rescued by one of the social ride leaders a few times; plus I only starting riding my first road bike in Dec 2015. So all in all, I was very pleased with being able to ride 100miles in a pretty decent time.  I would not have achieved this without the support of the club!

This blog is about how I approached my training and how I managed to achieve my target (well almost; I’m still annoyed about missing my target by just 1 min 57 secs!).

When I got the email to tell me I was successful for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 2017, I thought: ‘I have plenty of time for training’ so I didn’t really start with the training plan provided by the organisers (which I should have!). So, February and March came and went and I continued to do the regular Saturday rides with the club. At the start of May I rode in the May Flyer with a group from the club and got a pretty good result but was in real pain: I suffered cramp in my legs and was left feeling quite exhausted after only half the distance. This was my wake up call; if I wanted to achieve my 5hr target in the RideLondon I had to up my game!

However, half of May went by and I still had not done additional training, but then I started to do a few extra sessions: a Wednesday evening training loop with Dittons Velo (thanks guys for dragging me round!) and some spinning classes. In early June, I asked David one of the stronger DV riders if he would ride with me once a week for some speed sessions. I did get better but by mid June I still felt I was lagging. I panicked and did the thing I thought was not possible: I over-trained and actually found myself getting slower!!

After talking to David, my training buddy, he advised to have at least one day a week without exercise. I cut one session out and started to see the benefit from this.

I stuck with my schedule for the rest of June and July. I also did a few sportives, even did one on my own to make sure I had done a 100mile ride before the end of July . I also made sure I did some great rides with the club.

The night before the RideLondon, when I eventually arrived at my hotel (after getting totally lost from Waterloo to Stratford in the pouring rain!), I drank a lot of water to ensure I was properly hydrated, I ate a Nutella sandwich and eventually went to bed.

The morning of the ride I drank more to ensure I was well hydrated, plus I ate granola with yoghurt and one banana. I took a Nutella sandwich with me which I ate while queuing at the start, had another half banana and drank another bottle of water.

For the ride itself I carried with me

  • 6 gels (I used 4)
  • some small flapjacks
  • some cashew nuts (for the salt)
  • some peanut butter sandwiches (cut in mouth size chunks)
  • half a banana (which I didn’t eat!)
  • some Trek Protein Energy Chunks
  • two large bottles of water (with electrolyte tablets)

On reflection, I took too much food and would take less next time. The drink was just about enough but only because I was well hydrated the day before and before the start.

[Note from DV: as a rule, we would normally recommend drinking more water on a hard ride; typically, one bottle per hour]

Sleep is also important but that part went wrong: I couldn’t sleep on the two days before the race and two days after the race. I think excitement and nerves played a big part.

Thank you to everyone in the club for their support and help with my training – I couldn’t have done it without you all.