At 8:30am on the 29th July 2018 I wasn’t particularly loving life. I’d moved under 100 metres in 20 minutes, it was raining, I was soaked, I was cold and there was still 45 minutes until my wave were due to set off on the Prudential Ride 100.
What followed, in all honesty, was one of the worst experiences that I’ve had on a bike. There were people everywhere, all over the road, with not a clue what was going on around them. This was magnified when the roads narrowed and I found myself picking through a lot of less experienced cyclists who found themselves struggling on small inclines. Ultimately, it was a lack of experience and an absence of awareness that caused me to be knocked off my bike in Richmond Park. On one of the short, sharp climbs that the park is famous for, I was sticking to the right hand side of the road to overtake the slower cyclists on the inside as per the instructions we had been given at the start. As we neared the crest of the climb a cyclist in front of me, without looking, veered out into my lane knocking my front wheel sideways, throwing me diagonally over my handlebars. For some reason my shoes did not unclip so the bike followed and came crashing down on the inside of my right thigh. I was thankful for the Kask Mojito helmet I was wearing as my head bounced off the tarmac. I sat at the side of the road dazed, with a pounding headache and annoyed that my participation might be over because of someone else’s idiocy. However, I had raised a lot of money and I was determined to finish for the charity so I clipped back in and cycled the last 70 miles with a badly mangled and buckled back wheel (a wheel that eventually had to be rebuilt, costing me £200).
I managed to finish the ride but I had not enjoyed much of it at all and the throbbing pain in my head prompted me to go home rather than stick around to watch the end of the pro race.
It was this experience that led me to the conclusion that I am going to give mass participation, charity sportives a miss from now on. I don’t find any enjoyment in them now as I spend all my time being wary of the less experienced cyclists around me. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for people getting on a bike, getting some exercise and raising a lot of money for charity but I will be concentrating my time on smaller events from now on.