Londoners get back on their bikes for the Mayor’s annual festival of cycling
British cycling has gone from strength to strength since Team GB’s medal haul at the London Olympics. It’s quite fitting, then, that one of 2012’s most enjoyable legacy events is returning on a week that has seen Chris Froome secure Britain’s first ever Tour De France double.
Prudential RideLondon makes its annual return this weekend (1st and 2nd of August) and will see over 100,000 cyclists – from children to amateur enthusiasts and leading pro’s – take to car-free London streets to raise money for charity, support UK cycling and enjoy the festival atmosphere engulfing central London.
Better still, 2014’s torrential downpours are unlikely to return this time around. The five-part event, organised by the London and Surrey Cycling Partnership (a joint effort between the London Marathon and Tour of Britain) looks set to be a corker – so here’s the Huez* guide to this weekend’s goings on:
On yer’ bike!
One of the world’s largest mass participation bike events, the RideLondon FreeCycle (Saturday, from 9am to 4pm) will give cyclists of all ages and abilities the chance to ride all (or part) of a ten mile course passing some of London’s most recognisable landmarks. Six different entertainment and festival zones are dotted along the course, mixing thousands of partygoers with tens of thousands of cyclists for a jubilant day of British summertime celebrations.
For the more serious riders – no doubt featuring a welcome mix of ‘Mamils’, youthful amateurs and hopeful first timers – the RideLondon Surrey 100 (6am to 5:30pm Sunday) will also return once again. The 100 mile slog through the home county countryside is not for the faint hearted, but passing the finish line on The Mall is the closest most will ever get to their own Olympic feeling, and is just as important considering the huge amount of money that will be raised for deserving causes.
World class city, world class racing
Racing fans will be treated to the RideLondon Grand Prix (Saturday from 5pm), an elite race pitting future stars and professional female teams against each other in a high-octane race over a 1.3km course circling St. James’ Park. 500 dapper entrants will also be facing the course for the Brompton World Championship – an amusing (but by no means uncompetitive) way to welcome in the evening.
The highlight of the weekend for race enthusiasts will undoubtedly be Sunday’s 200km edition of the RideLondon Surrey Classic (1:30 to 5:30pm – live on the BBC). The route mirrors large chunks of the original Olympic road race, departing from Horse Guards Parade and spreading outwards from London and into the testing Surrey Hills. Leaving the bounds of the city behind, the riders will face the North Down’s steep chalk slopes before ascending the iconic Box Hill and returning for The Mall finale.
Six professional tour teams feature in this year’s race, and defending champion Adam Blythe (a surprise winner last year) will be looking to maintain his title against frontrunners Mark Cavendish, Tom Boonen, Rohan Dennis, Andre Greipel and Ben Swift. There are even rumours that Sir Bradley Wiggins will feature as part of the Team Wiggins squad – cementing the showdown as one not to be missed.
A lasting legacy
The Huez* team will be out in force to join in with the festivities and help to show the British public and transport authorities that cycling is a force taking over in our capital city.
Participants are not just riding for themselves this weekend, but also for a show of two wheeled solidarity and to cement the achievements of British cycling in recent years – on and off the track.
We look forward to seeing you there…More stories