My Ride London experience

My grandfather “Pop” has always been the driving force and inspiration in my life. He has ridden Land’s End to John O’Groats twice and was still doing 100-mile time trials on his bike at 70 years of age! Four years ago, aged 88, he finally gave up cycling and gave away one of his precious bikes to me.

I am not a cyclist by any stretch of the imagination. But I thought, as a nod to the great man, I would sign up for Ride London 100 and put that bike of his to good use. I didn’t think for one-minute that learning to change gears was going to be such a huge hurdle at the start of my journey! After failing miserably to understand how the gears on a bike work; I learnt very quickly how to put a chain back on.

So, having decided to do the Ride London 100, I knew I wanted to do it for charity. I have always been fond of children’s charities and wanted to support a smaller local charity, as they often find it harder to raise much-needed funds to provide their services. But, if I am going to be honest, the real reason I went for Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity is that they have the absolute best cycling top and crazy hair! No-one was going to miss me when I was out and about. I hadn’t appreciated, until that ridiculously wet and miserable day last July, how much my (albeit somewhat soggy) multi-coloured hair made others smile! I had children along the route waving at me, people shouting “love your hair!” and so may riders commenting as I passed by.

Signing up to be a fundraiser for the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity was the best decision I made. It gave me the incentive and motivation to get out and train. It also exposed me to the most unbelievably supportive team of cheerers and fellow riders, and it was going to help make a real difference to a family facing challenges far greater than mine!

Kass, Sally and the team were so encouraging from the get-go. They helped with publicity, providing information, keeping me updated with training ideas, event registration details, providing a much need supply of water on the training ride. As well as being a friendly face on the day of the event itself. I think I heard them long before I actually saw them on the route! From the initial sign-up to the good luck card and the well-done card, I felt like the team were with me every step of the way!

“There is nothing more uplifting when your legs are burning and you are thinking ‘Can I really finish this?’ and you hear your name chanted by a team of Rainbow Trust supporters.”

I have so many fond memories of my Ride London 100 experience. I’ll never forget that exciting feeling I had when I first received my cycling top and crazy rainbow hair. The encouragement I felt from meeting up with other members of the cycling team and the training tips they imparted. The emotional feeling that washed over me every time I passed a Rainbow Trust team of supporters. Then that immensely proud feeling when I cycled up the Mall, knowing what I’d personally achieved but also for each of those families that would benefit from the money I had raised!

Completing the Ride London 100 will remain one of my biggest accomplishments. Which thanks to the support of Rainbow Trust, I will look back on fondly for many years to come!

If you are in any doubt, I cannot encourage you enough to sign up with Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity – you simply won’t regret it!

Sam’s top tips

Although I’ve completed the Ride London 100, I wouldn’t see myself as a pro. But if I had any tips to give for riders this year it would be the following:

  1. Start training early and build up gradually.
  2. Try and get some hills under your belt, preferably any of the 3 main ones on the route.
  3. Try out the different sweets, gels and tablets before the big day. You need to know what works for your body.
  4. Make sure you have your bike serviced before the event and that your tyres are at the correct pressure.
  5. Plan when you are going to eat your energy supplies. This is so your body has time to digest them ready to release energy when you most need it.
  6. Look out and go say hello to your support teams – they really spur you on!
  7. Plan your route there and home – don’t underestimate how psychologically knackered you are after the ‘high’ of finishing the event wears off!
  8. Make sure your phone is in a water-proof bag – nothing is dry after a day like last year!
  9. Ride light – you don’t need the extra weight up those hills!
  10. Enjoy every mile you cycle. Taking in the sights, sounds and smells you wouldn’t normally experience. Not to mention the smiles and social camaraderie – it’s amazing!
  11. Treasure that medal – you’ve earned it!

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