Mitie London Revolution Ride
The Mitie London Revolution is a 188 mile sportive over 2 days with an overnight camping stop at Ascot racecourse. We'd never done something like this before, and since we still haven't found our perfect road bikes, we knew we'd have to do it all fixed gear. Long story short, we had the most amazing but challenging time, and we'd love to try it again on a geared bike, but until then, here's how the weekend unfolded...
We prepared as much as we could the night before, checking and double checking the bare essentials; food, clothes, pj's, phone charger, inner tubes, toothbrush...
We woke up at around 5am on the morning of day 1, we knew we'd have to commute to the start area at Lee Valley Athletics Centre, carrying everything we'd need for the weekend on our backs so packing was minimal. After a longish ride along the canal at 7am with multiple wrong turnings, we were already using up precious energy and morale that we knew we should be saving for much later on. Once we got to the start line however, the atmosphere and swift organisation helped us perk up, and we met up with our mate Owen who'd prepared us home made energy bars (Huge thanks, we needed them!) and Hugo from Threshold Sports.
We set off from the start line and took a straight route through London, over tower bridge, exiting the city to the far south. The sun was shining and the weather was perfect, I couldn't imaging completing the 100 mile day in the windy and rainy conditions we'd had the previous week, at this point we were thankful to be outside all day, riding and enjoying the weather.
The country roads felt endless, we joked about going round in circles as every turning seemed to look like the one before. Looking back this 100 mile definitely feels like a blur that can only be distinguished in a few parts; food stop 1, food stop 2, hills then the mental and physical pain that hit at mile 90, the latter two being the most memorable part for me.
Near the end of the ride when we started to tire, two unexpectedly steep hills appeared and we had to give up and walk them, the gradient being too steep for our 48 / 17 and 48 / 18 gear choices. Shortly after this, I hit a mental wall and I'd had enough. The longest ride I'd done before this was 80 something mile, so mile 90 felt like an awful place to be, not that my legs were too tired, just mentally, I'd had enough of staring forward into empty countryside lanes, no distractions from the regular London traffic and no noise to blur out the repeated thoughts, 'I can't do this'.
Seeing the sign for Ascot felt amazing, I knew I was safely at the camp for the night and I wouldn't have to think about pedaling until tomorrow. Tonight I'd just eat, eat, eat, coo over the huge Dulux dog, and enjoy the success of day one.
Day 2 didn't start so well. We snoozed the alarms on our phone multiple times, we pulled the covers over our head and rolled around in protest. My mind was adamant that I would not leave the tent and the warmth of the sleeping bag. The only thing that got us out was the thought that we'd be returning home, mentally it was a challenge, but the goal was clear, we'd be in a nice hot bath and our own beds in less than 12 hours if we got up, so we did.
We bought a grilled breakfast bun from the van on site as a little treat and set off on our way. Everyone had left at 7am while we were snoozing, so we were just about the last people to leave camp. The thought of people reaching the first food stop 30 miles in annoyed us, we could have been there too if we'd managed to get up at the right time, we were now 30 miles behind the main group and knew there would be loads of hills to face today.
Day 2 was painful. Now I can look back and see that it was all worth it but during the ride our minds and legs had give up. After walking up numerous hills, again too steep for our gears, we were about 40 miles in when we got chatting to Shane, a chaperone on the ride who started leading us on with words of encouragement. After a brief chat riding side by side, I began to forget the daunting mileage and elevation we had to face and we started getting back to our original cheery mindset. Shane lead us for the rest of the ride, and we took turns on the front pacing each other. It's amazing what the body can achieve when the mind is in the right place, our speed increased hugely, we started tackling the steep hills and won! Passing people who'd left long before us, we finished the ride with around 120 people behind us.
We collected our medals, thanked Shane for getting us through it all and briefly hung around to chat to people who we'd seen along the way before returning home for a well deserved Sodo Pizza. Despite the pain we loved it, and we're going to make sure we have road bikes for next years ride. We'd love to see how we tackle the course with gears and no hill walking!
It was only just over a week before that we definitely knew we were doing Revolution. The furthest I had ridden in the few months before this was around 40 miles, I had just been doing my usual commute around town with a few extra miles here and there so I was massively unprepared. I even made a makeshift saddle bag just before leaving my house.
Day one felt like a dream, we were so happy and excited and the weather was amazing. The atmosphere from the other riders and the working crew was great, everyone was hyped. We set out doing what we know best - weaving through the busy London traffic. We hadn't considered that other riders weren't so confident winding through the traffic as we zipped in between cars, busses and everything else, but this became apparent after chatting to some others.
Once we were free from the busy streets of London the rolling countryside was absolutely stunning, especially under the super blue sky. The route was great and it was really easy to navigate along with the help of orange arrows dotted at turning points. There were a lot of narrow winding country lanes and we were riding at a good speed. There was one downhill which was particularly memorable! It was super steep with a few little bends, luckily we both ride with one brake, so it wasn't too scary.
When we got to the tent I had quite bad ITB pain, which was a little worrying, after a visit to the medic and some paracetamol it was all forgotten. Overall day one went smoothly considering our lack of preparation.
By the time we sat down for dinner we were mentally exhausted. Yep, we had pretty much lost the plot. We stuffed our little faces and moaned about our aching bodies as well as all of the hills we knew we would face the next day.
Both of us are not morning people so when our alarms went off we obviously put them on snooze and near enough refused to get up. We were dreading the hills we were about to meet. Hammering the ride the day before had set in and our bodies were letting us know about it. With a bad attitude and not much energy we set off being almost the last.
We had agreed to go slowly today and we were past by a fair few riders. We stopped every now and then to take leg warmers off, put them back on, eat a bar, take arm warmers off and put them back on and so on. We were anticipating the hills and agreed to walk and not even attempt them. My ITB pain was back and I had pain in my shoulder too.
The hills were starting to creep up on us, we found ourselves walking up the few which were steep. Even walking up them left us breathless, and my ITB was getting worse. All I could think about was how much I wanted to stop. We were around 40 miles in, everything was aching, I was exhausted and not in the mood. I was imagining my dad picking us up and could have cried. Riding 50(ish) more miles was the last thing I wanted to do. We found ourselves caught up with a few other riders, one of which happened to be Shane who was working for Threshold Sports as one of the chaperones on the ride. He rode with us for a bit and chatted with Sam. I took some paracetamol and once the pain slowly faded and the distance left slowly decreased, I felt some slight relief. Shane stuck with us and we all took it in turns riding on the front and chatting. We had picked our pace up by this point. My negative attitude started to disappear and I could relax and enjoy the amazing views we were surrounded by.
We made it to the second pit stop and our spirits were raised at the thought of only 30 miles left. We were actually doing it. Not only were we doing it, we were going to finish it. We told Shane we were about to leave and he set off with us. We were relieved, he made the ride bearable but also enjoyable. We're so used to riding just the two of us so it was super nice to have an extra person to join our little peloton. We were riding at a good speed and we were even flying up the hills and passing other riders. Once we were in familiar grounds of London, we were once again zipping through the traffic and couldn't have been happier to see those annoying big red buses.
As the miles ticked down we sped to the finish line. It was a great feeling crossing the line and we were ecstatic that we actually managed it. We really couldn't have done it without the help of Shane, who not only kept us pedaling but kept us somewhat sane! The ride was amazing and so well organised, I would definitely love to do it again but no chance of doing it fixed gear. Hopefully this is that extra push to us finally sorting some road bikes for more epic adventures just like these.