Manchester to London by R872

After I started cycling by buying my first bike the Ribble R872 last July, I’ve been hooked by the sport. I tried to regularly go out at evenings and do the cafe rides at the weekends, sometimes finding it hard to fit into my schedule. I’ve always wanted to race or join a sportive ride, but never committed to the challenge. It was February of this year when the Rapha Manchester to London ride was announced, it took a few weeks for me to run through my head the challenge I faced.

Whilst never completing a 100 mile ride before, the challenge of riding 220 miles in the day wasn’t going to be easy. I eventually took the plunge and signed up for the event in March, after my girlfriend insisted it would be a good idea. The fee of £150 seemed a lot at the time, but the whole organisation throughout the event was second to none.

After signing up and starting my fund raising with the target of raising £750 as requested, I took to my training and getting out on the bike as much as possible. With not doing such an event or that amount of miles before, I didn’t have a training plan or an idea of the preparation I would have to undertake.

Throughout the summer, I tried to find time to do at least 3/4 evenings a week averaging 18miles with a mixture of hill climbs around beacon fell, to quick paced rides around Inskip on the flats. To finish off the week, I would do at least one weekend ride averaging 60 miles when I found time. I never joined any clubs, races or sportives for practice at the time, as I thought this training would prove better for me.

Manchester To London Ride

I only completed one group ride which was organised by Rapha in August, which would take in most of the climbs around the Peak District. The ride took us over all the big climbs, through the tunnels of the Monsal trail and over Snake Pass. Completing over 85 miles and 8,000ft of climbing, I felt my training had served me well as I kept at the front over the climbs and my legs felt good.

After several months of training and completing the training ride, I felt better in myself that I could complete the milestone even though I still hadn’t reached 100 miles before. My bike has not missed a beat and without a single puncture (I know my time will come!). Three weeks leading up to it I had a holiday booked and was very busy at work, which made it very hard to find time for training. My rides went down to two a week with a mixture of climbing and recovery rides, whilst climbing the same hills to see if I had lost any of my pace with my time off.

Unfortunately on the bike I was struggling a lot but my Strava said otherwise, so I think it was more nerves leading up to the event. I decided a week before the event on the 7th September not to touch the bike and just carb load, with stretches on the foam roller to prepare my legs. I also had my bike serviced for the first time, which only needed a new derailleur cable as the original had stretched. With the original tyres on the bike I was contemplating buying new tyres to be on the safe side, but they had served me well so far I decided not to tempt fate!

Not to overload my body the night before, I kept to a good sized amount of pasta and was early to bed as we had to sign on at 05:00 the next morning at Manchester Velodrome. The morning of the ride I kept to porridge and helped myself to bananas and coffee at the start line. I lined myself up at the start with 15 others to set off at 6:00 on a cold foggy Sunday morning. Feeling comfortable I started to knock off the miles whilst making friends to take the distance off my mind, this really helped me get comfortable and help a group form to share the workload. After reaching the first feed station 45miles in at Carsington Water and getting over all the major climbs of the day, we had a quick refuel with an array of gels, fruit, cakes and coffee that was laid out for us. Before I knew it we were setting off again and a group of 5 of us formed for the rest of the journey.

The next feed station was 88 miles in at Bosworth Hall, this for me was the hardest part. Not knowing my limits I may have over cooked myself trying to do too much on the front. With 66 miles on the clock my legs weren’t feeling great and I thought I wouldn’t make it. Taking a gel and drinking the majority of my electrolyte helped to ease this off and we eventually made it to Bosworth Hall. At this point it was stocked with everything we needed, including homemade pies for us to enjoy as the sun came out for us!

I was feeling better. The route had now finished with the majority of the hills, so it was more of a run into London with four great people I met along the way. Once we had set off we knew this was going to be the longest ride to the next feed station at Castle Ashby at 142miles in, whilst on the way there knocking off my first achievement of hitting 100 miles for the first time. I felt great at this point and it was more of a mental game than anything else, with just the bum and lower back pain starting to develop. Reaching Castle Ashby at 3:00, we light checked, fuelled up on the great food and drink provided and set off to the last feed station at Woolmer Green at 187 miles.

Manchester to London

Once we had reached there, we knew we had cracked it and the last 30 miles was a stroll. After reaching there and stopping the legs were starting to stiffen up and I felt I needed to keep going, then spend too much time re-fuelling. We stopped for 10 minutes, wrapped up and set off again with the most dangerous part of the ride looming through London in the dark and totally exhausted (with a few hairy moments in there). With the sight of the Velodrome and the finish line in the distance it was a great feeling, completing an overall great experience that I strongly advise to anyone looking to challenge themselves.

Finishing 27th with a time of 14hours and 42 minutes, I was very happy smashing my first 100 miles and 200 mile ride in one go. Without a single problem from the bike including no punctures, I must say thank you to Ribble Cycles for providing such a great bike!

The aftermath of the event wasn’t too bad, as you would expect the legs were stiff, but after a few stretches I got back on the saddle the next day and enjoyed a ride around Essex with a friend. After doing his local ride of 45 miles I was gone and ready to go home. The worst part of the whole experience was trying to cycle through London at rush hour with two bags to reach my train! (Strongly advise against)

2/3 days after the event, my legs and bum were sore but that was quickly fixed by recovery drinks and daily use of the foam roller.

My Strava Ride:


Thanks for reading my blog post,

Nicholas Seville


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