Juliet Elliott's 'My first'...two day sportive

London Cycling Campaign PR Manager and journalist, Juliet Elliott tackles her first mass participation event, the London Revolution. Read about her training and preparation from this previous article.



Joining the Revolution: riders enjoying the Surrey Hills

It’s mid March in the LCC office and we’re examining the summer schedule, divvying up events to cover. Initially, I feel like I’ve drawn the short straw — I’m assigned the MITIE London Revolution, a challenging 180-mile sportive due to take place over a weekend in May. I’m thinking it might be a stretch; I’ve only ever ridden 92km before, but a quick chinwag with my boyfriend and I find myself signing on the dotted line.

Fast forward six weeks and I’m at the start of my first sportive; a new challenge made all the greater by a total lack of training. Over the preceding two weeks, my main concern has been whether we’ll have to endure rotten weather, but luckily we’re greeted at the start by mild, dry conditions with relatively little wind.

We set off in groups, following the first of the arrows we’ll be looking for all weekend. As we ride out through London I’m lifted by the excitement of my first mass participation event and have to force myself to hold back a little — I’ll never make it all the way to my first ‘century’ if I go off too fast at the beginning. As we head out towards Epping, Dave and I happily settle into a rhythm, sometimes streaming small pelotons of riders, more often riding as a pair. It’s a lovely feeling, knowing all I have to do is turn the pedals of my bike for the next two days — everything else is taken care of and I can just enjoy indulging my passion.

About 40 miles in we spot the first ‘pit stop’ and sit in the sun happily stuffing our faces with flapjacks, chocolate, crisps and more chocolate. My legs feel fresh, despite the fact I’ve rarely ridden much further than this in the past. We’ve been careful to roll steadily and it’s paying off. The next 30 miles go by in a flash. The route planners have chosen some exceptionally pretty villages for us to ride through and the countryside is delightfully lush and green. Another pit stop and we begin the final section in high spirits. We hit some hills, a struggle with so little left in the tank, but before we know it we’re at Windsor racecourse.

After yoga, food and a massage, we manage one solitary pint before descending into the deepest sleep imaginable. Sunday dawns bright and sunny and we clamber aboard our bikes; amazed at our good fortune and hoping the weather lasts. We roll through Surrey and its perfect cottages and woodlands in the sunshine. The hills of the North Downs are a little challenging after so many miles but considering my apprehension at doing this ride, I feel incredible. Even Box Hill, which had worried me for so long, was an absolute pleasure.

Back in London’s East End, we pedal into the finish to applause and we’ve done it. I’d never have dreamt that I could ride so far — for weeks I’d been imagining some kind of gruelling ordeal when the reality couldn’t have been more different. From start to finish, the ride was an absolute pleasure, so at next year’s planning meeting, I’m definitely putting my name down again...

 

Juliet and Dave with their finishers' medals. 

  

Follow Juliet's adventures on her website, facebook page or twitter @_julietelliott

This article first appeared in the June/July 2013 issue of London Cyclist magazine, delivered free to LCC members every two months.

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