On the 3rd and 4th of August 2013, cyclists took over London for two days of bike-related events around the capital for the Prudential RideLondon festival of cycling. Whether you were an elite rider, ambitious regular, cycling family or just looking to enjoy the sights of the city from two wheels, there was something for you.
Supported by the Mayor of London, Transport for London, Surrey County Council and others, it looked to be the start of something special – a yearly celebration of everything bicycle related, and the chance watch some of the top international riders in action.
Trafalger Square, the Tower of London, the Mall, Embankment – these major landmarks made up part of the traffic-free 8 mile long FreeCycle route, which opened on Saturday morning.
Over 50,000 cyclists took part, riding bikes of every conceivable size, shape and age. This included some more unusual modes of transport that could only loosely be termed a ‘bicycle’ – such as a pedal-powered sofa on wheels, blasting out music.
Families, groups and tourists all got involved, making for a fun and festival-like atmosphere. Betty Tingle, 91, used to race competitively and had brought along 16 members of her family.
I’ve been cycling all my life, so it’s fantastic to see all these people here. I met my husband through cycling. He used to wait for me to catch him up; now all my family are at it.
RideLondon Grand Prix
A series of spectacular, fast races through the London streets highlighting top cycling talent of today and tomorrow featured on Saturday afternoon.
The riders competed 15 laps of a 1.3 mile course, spinning past Horseguards, Buckingham Palace and The Mall on their route.
In the women’s criterium race, Laura Trott pipped Hannah Barnes to the post in a sprint finish. Trott described the win as ‘sweet revenge’ over Barnes for her recent National Criterium Championships win.
In the handcycle race, double Paralympian Champion Andrea Eskau from Germany gained a decisive victory over Britain’s Rachel Morris.
Sally Bichell of Lyme RC won the youth race ahead of Rosa Martin of Ribble Valley.
RideLondon – Surrey 100
16,418 riders set off bright and early on Sunday morning from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the inaugural RideLondon-Surrey 100 sportive.
Departing in waves from 6am, riders enjoyed closed roads as they headed out through the city centre into the picturesque Surrey countryside, where the challenging Leith and Box Hills lay in wait.
The first woman to spin across the finish line was Lauren Whitmore, 29, who completed her ride in just under four and a half hours.
In total, 15,883 riders completed the 100 mile course, including Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
I wouldn’t say it was a piece of cake but once we cracked Leith Hill I knew it was going to be okay. We are definitely going to see this again next year, whether you see me take part in it again next year is to be decided. It is a gradual step and the most important thing is to encourage people to cycle by making it safer.
The race attracted a number of celebrity participants, such as Olympic hurdles champion Sally Gunnell and rower James Cracknell. Even pro-riders got involved, with Dani King riding the course to raise money for charity, hot off the heels of leading out Laura Trott to victory at the Grand Prix the previous evening.
RideLondon – Surrey Classic
Sunday afternoon saw 150 elite men compete in the RideLondon-Surrey Classic. Reaching speeds of over 40mph at times, a bunch sprint finish saw Frenchman Arnaud Demare grasp victory at the Mall.
Demare, who placed 30th at the Olympic road race in 2012, admitted the victory was an emotional one.
One year after the Olympic Games this is a victory that’s a symbol of something for me. It’s even more important because I lost my trainer, who died a month ago, so it’s very emotional for me.
Feeling inspired? The ballot for next year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 opens on Monday 12th August.