Finish Line at Ride London

Rockets & Rascals x Ride London

Written by: Steve Toze



Time to read 5 min

For some, Ride London is literally the London Marathon of cycling, they train all year to throw it down on the streets of Britain's biggest city and I am sure if I was even close to getting super comfortable running a marathon i'd probably find that the approach to such an event isn't too different to my own approach to Ride London. I am comfortable riding 100miles, it's not the challenge that it was, but we keep coming back, maybe to beat that PB, maybe in the hope the weather is better, or more than likely just to soak up the massive cycling vibes.

Rides in Ride London Cycling Event

Think of the worst possible preparation for a sporting event, the very antithesis of the golden triangle of fitness - sleep, nutrition and exercise - and our weekend began pretty much in this style. Travel up in the van but we parked in West London and needed to pedal across town to reach our hotel which was fortunately positioned just a few pedal strokes from the finish at Tower Bridge. We wandered about 20,000 steps around London, drinking a few beers along the way, eating burgers and a large mixed grill in Wetherspoons at around 10pm - and then a crazed night of sleep waking every couple of hours thinking it's time for the alarm to go off.

Rockets Riders Club eating McMuffins

Out of bed before 6am and my start time was no earlier than 7am. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as whilst i'd miss the advantage of leaving in the faster groups, I also missed the worst of the rain. From the Rockets & Rascals crew we had Duncan and my brother, Rich, who had already let slip that they had no intention of trying to ride with the rest of us and would be rolling out sometime around 6am. Al Jenkins had also gone at the crack of dawn in the quest for a 4 hour (ish) time, which left myself, Rob Ditch, Hanky & Chris Sample in McDonalds at 6.30am eating a McMuffin, slurping the worst Flat White on the planet and praying the drizzle would cut us some slack for the 100 miles we had to get done that morning.

Ride London , Big Ben, Rockets Riders Club

The ride to start is probably the most epic part of this event, it's landmarks aplenty and for country mice like us you don't know where to look. The Savoy, Trafalgar Square, The Mall, St James's palace, Downing Street, The Cenotaph all just on the way to the start.

After some photos and a fair bit of standing about things got underway with absolutely no ceremony, a rolling start that left me wondering whether we'd actually started at all and as I realised it was time to get down to business I clicked down a couple of gears, started my Wahoo and took my Trek Emonda road bike up to it's cruising speed for the day, a comfortable 20mph. The start went pretty well for me, sat on the front of our group as we exited London central, the landmarks declined to be replaced with windy dual carriageways and high tempo riding, people forget that the roads are closed and tend to still cycle on one side, almost scared a truck will come around the next corner. At about 8 miles I started to relax, I looked around to realise that the rest of our crew were not even in sight, I'd basically binned them off.

Ride London disasterous puncture

Taking the decision not to wait I pressed on, surfing some wheels and chewing through the distance pretty quickly, as we pushed towards 15 miles the familiar stripes of the RRC jersey appeared as Rob Ditcher slid by on my right, it was good to see a familiar face and we settled into what would ultimately be the format for the rest of the day.

Epping Forest at about 20 miles and I got chatting to a female rider from Glasgow, we joked about the lack of hills and when I pointed out that we were actually riding the only major climb of the day, 4% gradient, we both had a laugh. At this point I looked at my phone to see the chase group of Hanky, Chris and fellow Rocket rider Alex had actually suffered a puncture. A good 10 miles behind it was easy to make a decision that waiting wasn't really an option. At this point we just pushed, into the headwind, toward the halfway point rest stop at Felstead.

Riders in Ride London, Felsted, Essex

Now i'd already told a number of people how good the feed stop at Felstead was, unusually for this kind of event the rest zone is neutralised so your time isn't running, this means you can spend a good old time relaxing, using the facilities, drinking coffee and dining on the array of food on offer - not this year. This year we were met with a great selection but told we could only take one item from the table, no energy drink, no gels and then oddly a 200m walk to get a banana. For the average sized rider with 50 fast miles in the legs one small Soreen bar and some water is not going to power you to the finish, I grabbed what I could, glad I'd brought a ton of my own food and gels, and just got on with the ride.

Riding the dual carriageway back into London, Ride London 2024
Photo: Rob Ditcher

The second half of Ride London is a real mixed bag. You kick off with the beauty of rural Essex and it is really pretty, the sun had come out and things were feeling pretty good on the bike but it quickly became apparent that after riding all the way out into what was basically a headwind the weather had changed and brought us sun but then an even stronger headwind home. The second half has a fair few wide, long, straight roman style roads and after munching my miniature Soreen it was bar tape for dessert as we got down to chewing the bars for a good 20 miles. By this point no one is really chatting, it's like everyone marching home from war as people are looking forward to a cold beer and their arses are hurting. Mine was no exception and as we crossed the 90 mile marker I knew it was just 8-9 awful miles of dual carriageway before we hit inner London and the finish got in sight.

Riders in Ride London

Rolling into Canary Wharf and those last few miles back in London are always chaotic but as you start to see the top of the Shard and you can hear the noise around Tower Bridge it's a great end to a ride, one sharp turn and Tower Bridge opens up before you and there's always a little left in the tank for a pathetic attempt at a sprint. 103 miles done, took about 5.5 hours which was a whole 30 mins longer than last year but that wind - that wind was a beast!

Riders, Ride London with medals

In summary we always have a great time at Ride London, is the riding the best going? Absolutely not. Is it a great spectacle and maybe that one event a year where you try to beat a PB? Yeah probably. Is it a great weekend away with your mates? Definitely.

Entries for Ride London 2025 oddly opened about 11am on the day of the event so if you fancy it, sign up here!

Riders drinking beer!
Rockets Riders Club after Ride London finish
Steve Toze riding his Yeti mountain bike

Steve Toze

Owner at Rockets & Rascals, Plymouth. Also known in the bike world for Shred Mountain Bike Magazine, organising events and racing bikes at a mediocre level. Follow on Instagram