Naomi Riches Challenge
Paralympics gold medalist, Naomi Riches, is taking on a new challenge – this time she’s cycling.
Naomi Riches has now completed the Ride London 100 in August 2015 for her chosen charity, Charity Wheels For All. She updates us on how the big day went…
August 2015 – Ride London 100
What a day it was! We were lucky enough to go to the VIP start at the Olympic Park Velodrome, which gave us a brilliant view of all the waves of cyclists starting before us. We were due to set off in the 08:24 wave with 99 other tandems, but managed to go in the earlier 08:21 group. There was great energy at the start – everyone was excited, including us, but apprehensive too. We set off like a ‘bat out of hell’, or so Meat Loaf was singing through the speakers as the horn sounded. All the fundraising, training, excitement and some stress had been leading up to this… now we just had to complete the 100 miles!
I was quickly astounded by the number of people cheering on from the pavements and with no cars on the streets of London, what more could you ask for? We were overtaken by a few super quick tandems fairly early on, including one with 2 guys in bright yellow morph suits… interesting and quite a spectacle!
As we headed through central London, we were relaxed, enjoying the atmosphere, the sites and our new shiny bike. We were also going a lot faster than I had expected and soon arrived at the first drinks station. There was a wonderful group of ladies filling up water bottles and handing out bananas, spreading their cheer and enthusiasm, so we left feeling truly energised.
Richmond Park was the first of the hills – although it was only a very slight incline, the tandem quickly lost speed, but we managed it without any major hitches. We quickly seemed to be out of London and heading into Surrey – it was almost going too fast, but then I remembered this was the easy bit!
It was followed by some epic hills, which were quite frustrating. People bunched up as they slowed down and it was tricky to avoid the walkers with our less-than-agile tandem. It was a case of getting your head down and pushing hard, whether on wheels or feet!
The brownies at the top of Box Hill were so good, especially knowing there were no more hills of that calibre ahead of us. Surrey was gorgeous to cycle through and the crowds lining the streets were just superb. My favourites were families that couldn’t leave their homes due to road closures, who brought their garden furniture onto their driveways and front lawns, enjoying BBQs whilst cheering on the cyclists. There were quite a few shouts of ‘Go Tandem’, and ‘Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle, Oi Oi Oi’, and my favourite: ‘Get a Wiggle on Tandem!’.
By mile 40, I had realised I needed to test out more saddles – I was in serious pain! By the time we came back into London, I was gritting my teeth as well as smiling at all the support. By this point Nigel was a bit sore too, but he had really cracked the smooth gear changes and we flew round the corners with confidence. We were now on our way to the finish!
It was surprisingly quiet as we trundled along Embankment and past Westminster, but when we turned onto The Mall – wow, it was incredible! We felt overwhelming pride and relief that we were 250 metres away from the finish, made sweeter by the cheers and woops from the spectators. I couldn’t resist punching the air as we crossed the finish line, it felt amazing!
It’s been quite a journey, but we did it and I can’t believe it’s all over! Thank you everyone for your support, for reading the blogs, sponsoring us or just spreading the word. We couldn’t have done it without you! I would also like to take this opportunity to say that our thoughts are with the family and friends of Stephen Green, who passed away whilst on his way up Leith Hill. We are proud of him for taking on that Ride London challenge!
So the riding is over, but the fundraising is still going on. So far we’ve raised £4,335 for Cycling Projects, which really isn’t to be sniffed at! However, it is an ongoing project so we will never say no to more donations…hint hint!
Naomi & Nigel
Support Naomi & Nigel on their fundraising page
Written on September 1st, 2015