Tuesday, 01 October 2019 11:43

Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 2019: A very different challenge.

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After 10 miles, I knew I was going to finish this. As I stood on the start line at 6 in the morning, terrified, doubtful and teary, I talked myself into taking each mile as it came. It was all a win after the previous 8 months, I had nothing to prove. But to me I did, this was my target as I lay injured and broken. This is what I'd gone through the unimaginable agony of  the manipulation of my wrist without pain relief and the hurt and frustration of physio, for. After 10 miles I knew I was going to do it.

 I've written about this before but to recap. On the 30th November, due to a convergence of circumstances, including a selfish dog walker, a safety mirror distracting me, a fallen tree and my own stupidity I crashed my mountain bike on a cycle path. I slightly fractured my right wrist but suffered a reverse collies fracture on the left. At A & E they tried to put a local in for the manipulation but couldn't and worried about it the Doctor tried a manipulation. I can't describe the pain and I know some will accuse me of navel gazing, exaggerating or feeling sorry for myself, but these are the people who get angry about Vegan sausage rolls so meh. The attempt lasts a minute or so I'm told. I don't know myself. After visualising riding down The Mall I was hallucinating about a tractor dragging me along the M4. I do know I bit through the mouth piece of my gas and air and the department had been cleared due to my screams. The good thing was I could now have morphine. Next day the wrist was pinned and on the Sunday I went home.


So a little back story about the accident. But that's not the end of things. When the cast came off I went into shock, my arm froze. Nothing touched the pain. This carried on. I couldn't take the cast off to wash or else I went into shock. The arm stunk and stunk bad. I wouldn't let anyone touch it, if the ground was icy or wet I was afraid to leave the house. Twice I had a panic attack. Then I thought I had the answer. I was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The nerves weren't behaving properly, Oh well we can deal with that I thought. So I did a little research. CRPS is pretty much a mystery, it can be the most painful condition known to medical science, it leads to amputation of otherwise healthy limbs and carries the nick name of the Suicide disease. Nice eh. To put it bluntly sufferers are always in pain. Always. Sometimes it's less, sometimes its more. My lowest level seems to be 2 wasp stings. The highest level is broken bones or on fire. I've been known to have my arm resting on the wine rack in the fridge for relief. It can also make your hair look rubbish. Perhaps this is the hardest thing.


Through all this I still had my mind set on doing Ride London. It was still my goal. At the start of this journey I couldn't wash myself or even wipe my arse so I had a way to go. Physio didn't start well. I hated it. It hurt and it looked a strong possibility I'd never ride again let alone do a 100 miles in August. I struggled still to basic tasks like do my jeans up. I couldn't lift stuff and it now turns out I was suffering (and still am) from PTSD. My usual way of dealing with my mental health was riding my bike but 

So I contacted the media people at Ride London about getting my press place. I asked about doing the 46 mile as an alternative. I was never going to do that was I. I was always going to do the 100 mile option. Anybody that has come back from serious injury will relate to this. I could have done the 19 mile, I could have done the 46, either of these would have been an amazing comeback after everything and a bonus after thinking I'd never grace the world in Lycra shorts again. But, and this is a big but. I'd promised myself the 100. Everybody thought I was mad, I thought I was mad. A Facebook poll amongst friends told me to do the 46. But polls amongst people who don't have all the facts are not a good thing so I signed up and paid for my place on the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100.


In 2017 I wrote about the achievable challenge of the event. How Box Hill isn't that hard etc. In 2018 I wrote about the rain and horrible conditions we endured. 2019 is different. I've heard horror stories of walks, diverted routes, bad crashes and worst of all a missing pallet of medals at the end. Many finishers didn't get their medal for a week or so later, spoiling what is a major highlight of the day. I feel the ride could do with numbers being reduced by 5000and a lot of problems would go. I also think that a lot of the mamils could do a little less willy waving and the crashes would all but disappear. Look Nigel, Steve et all, you do look rather nice on your 3k bike and in £200 bibs but it ain't a race. If you want to race join a club and do crits or something. By the way index your bloody gears I can hear your rattling from a mile away!

Not to dismiss the problems faced by riders, whilst bad luck for the organisers to have fallen trees, many issues can have been foreseen. I have asked for a response but not received any form the organisers.

I was lucky enough to have avoided this. I saw the aftermath of one crash on one descent and got caught up in a walk on Leith Hill but otherwise my run was easy. Much drier than 2018 I was warmer and more settled. My left arm was strapped and along the easy city roads past the Tower, through the city and on towards Chiswick roundabout I felt, strong, I felt alive, I felt like a cyclist. 

It had been a journey to get there. Easter Sunday, 142 days since the accident I rode my cross bike 10 miles. I cried, I loved it and I hated it. 2 weeks later I rode on a cycle path, I hated it. Every blind corner was a torment, every bump a trial by torture. Then I got off and came home, Hair Metal blasting in the car 

"Through the sleepless nights, through every endless day, I'd want to hear you say, I remember you"  (Apologies to Skid Row)

The buzz was back. I remembered me I'd hated that ride but the buzz was back. Now I just needed to learn how to ride again. A few road rides it was soon obvious I was too nervy to try drinking or eating on the move on a public road, so I went to the National Closed Circuit at Pembrey rode around and around. "Round and Round Again" (Ratt). 42 laps. It worked to a certain extent but I realised that I'd be stopping a lot more this year. Happily the feed stops on Prudential RideLondon-Surrey are excellent and not just filled with energy bars. A banana and a bag of cheese and onion are almost magical after 80 miles or so.


So ten miles in and Living on Prayer (you know this one) I knew I was going to do it. Richmond Park, Kingston and Surrey passed under my wheels. I probably gave up too early on Newlands and Leith but I played it safe rather than risk a Theatre  of Pain (sorry last one). Box Hill, well no way was I going to give up unless I had to. I didn't even notice what song was being sung at the bottom this year. I cleaned it and beat my 2018 time. That meant a lot.

The hardest parts were the long descents. Covering the brakes was painful, it hurt a lot. That was in a way my big hills. I don't know but I was slow descending and possibly over careful. But once back into the outskirts of London those issues were gone. The last climb up Wimbledon Hill was harder than I remembered it but Nothing was going to Stop me Now. The finally turn under Admiralty Arch of previous years has been omitted for Birdcage walk which is sad but a more technical twisty finish brought out my inner sprinter and I targeted riders in front to pass. I'm glad I did because the floods of tears that had been threating to burst forth since Putney bridge were kept in check just long enough to cross the line and then it hit me. Every moment of this painful journey hit me. I'd done what many including myself didn't think possible. I'd done it, I'd only done it.

Then I got my time 8hrs 3 minutes 20 seconds. If I hadn't given up on Newlands so early I'd have got under 8hrs!!! 



Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a horrible disease and I'm lucky enough to be able to still fight it. More Info can be found at link below


Thanks to all the press and media team especially Ryan at London Marathon Events 

Special thanks to Kath and Andrew at Morriston Hospital Physio dept for all the help and work with me. For listening to me too. 

And finally thanks to Me Julie for bathing me and listening to me and my sarcastic funny and beautiful daughter Christie for keeping me grounded I Love you both 


If you're thinking of riding in 2020 and all cyclists should do Prudential RideLondon Surrey at least once then the ballot is open now.


 Photo Credits Header, 2,3,4 & 5 London Marathon Events