Bikes took over the streets of London last weekend, as the first Prudential RideLondon took place. As the biggest cycling event ever seen in the UK, RideLondon created a lasting legacy of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
A weekend of cycling kicked off on Saturday morning with a Guinness World Record during the FreeCycle (a mass participation eight mile bike ride). Double Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott sounded the horn, which saw former England Rugby captain Martin Johnson, followed by his family and hundreds of other cyclists depart one by one in the hope of breaking the record for the longest parade of bikes. Unfortunately the record wasn’t broken, but FreeCycle carried on throughout the day, with more than 50,000 joining in and taking advantage of the traffic-free roads, cycling past iconic land marks such as Big Ben, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace.
The FreeCycle was followed by a Grand Prix around St James’s Park in the evening, which saw Olympic cyclists take to the streets to compete in several races including Handcycle.
A second day of cycling began with more than 15,000 cyclists leaving Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the London-Surrey 100, lead by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who completed the course in eight and a half hours. The elite cyclists showed off their skills, leaving the park more than seven hours later for the London-Surrey Classic and arriving back on The Mall not long after the last of the amateurs.
Across the weekend festivals in Green Park, St Paul’s and Tower Hill accompanied the cycling with bike themed activities, including BMX stunts and Bike Polo, as well as live music alongside large screens showing the races.
Whether a cycling enthusiast or not, the atmosphere at RideLondon definitely captured the spirit of the Olympics, with hundreds of people lining the streets to cheer on the cyclists. With a year to train, it has inspired me to dust off my bike and give it a go!