This article was originally published on Cycling Plus.
On a damp and murky day in late October 2012 I was invited to join a select bunch of riders to take part in a highly secretive recce ride of the Surrey section of the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 route.
I’m usually useless at keeping secrets – and I have to admit that the ride enigmatically titled Surrey Hills on my Strava feed might be the one – but four months on I can finally reveal that the bit of the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 that goes through my home county is a belter!
If you’re a London or Home Counties based roadie – or you sat glued to the Olympic Road Race – then you’ll be familiar with many of the route’s highlights – Box Hill, Newlands Corner, Leith Hill… And you’ll know that these are names not to be taken lightly. Strava-isters – they all tasty cat 4s!
Undoubtedly it’ll be the zig-zag climb of Box Hill – tackled several times on the telly by the men and women at the Olympics – that’ll initially catch the eyes of those of you who got a place in the ride. With Rykers café at the bottom and a National Trust tea shop at the stop this 1.5 mile, roughly 5% and vaguely Alpine-feeling climb is a Surrey legend but to my mind – and according to my Garmin stats – it’s not the toughest on the route.
Rob Spedding in his element
The draggy mile or so up to Newlands Corner is Surrey’s first big challenge, but the honour of lung-bursting, leg-burning climb of the course goes to Leith Hill. This bad boy is the highest point in Surrey and would have made for a very different Olympic road race. Local club, Kingston Wheelers use it for a 0.9 mile hillclimb. That 0.9 miles averages eight percent. You will have already ridden 60 miles or so. It will hurt…
For obvious, traffic-related, reasons we didn’t brave the central London part of the route. If you’ve ever run the Virgin London Marathon you’ll have some idea of just how incredible an experience it is to be on car-bus-lorry and taxi-free roads in the capital. And as a man who’s spent many a mile in Richmond and Bushy Parks, riding on closed-roads through these will be immense.
I’ve a penchant for running as well as cycling and have first hand experience of just how good a brilliantly organised, mass participation event taking in landmarks usually seen from a bus, with an iconic finish on The Mall, can be for a sport. I don’t think I’m being over optimistic when I say that the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 has the potential to do for two wheels what the Virgin London Marathon – from the same organisation - has done for two legs since it’s humble beginnings in 1981.