Lawrence Gill Completes Prudential RideLondon-Surrey
On the 31st July, Lawrence Gill, an analyst at Centrus, and a group of friends rode in the 100-mile Olympic legacy cycle event Prudential RideLondon. They were raising money for SportsAid, a charity dedicated to helping aspiring athletes achieve their Olympic, Paralympic and world champion dreams, and Centrus Communities was pleased to help support their fundraising efforts by matching all other donations received.
This was Lawrence’s second year participating and after months of training, including catching the train out to Leatherhead to face the threatening Box Hill a few times (a 4km, 5% gradient climb near Dorking), he set out on that sunny Sunday morning in a group of 5 to face the 100 miles once again, this year hoping to raise over £2,500 for SportsAid:
The day got off to a bumpy start when Alex, a fellow SportsAid team member, got into an early crash and came off his bike in the middle of Knightsbridge. Thankfully there was no damage to Alex, unfortunately the same couldn’t be said about his bike. The buckled front wheel meant Alex’s 100-mile bid was hanging by a thread, the team hobbled the next few miles to the nearest aid station where we found some incredibly skilled and helpful mechanics who managed to fix the wheel on the roadside.
With straight wheels and a boosted morale, the team were flying again: we covered the first 45 miles with an average speed of 25mph. We were blessed with perfect weather, and it was great to see so many supporters along the route enjoying themselves. Their seemingly endless energy and enthusiasm definitely kept us all going and brought smiles to our faces as we sped through the quaint Surrey villages.
Unfortunately, the day took a turn for the worse when a rider ahead of us had quite a serious accident at about mile 46. After watching air ambulances fly in all we could do was wait and hope for the best for the riders involved. The route was re-opened after an hour and we continued on our way.
After a brief stopover at friend’s house to refuel with bacon sarnies and chocolate cake (and politely declined Stella Artois), Alex’s earlier crash came back to haunt him. We were half way up the first big hill of the day and his gears failed when a part that had been damaged in the morning’s crash sheared off. Yet again we were at the mercy of the mechanics and once again they pulled through. After they removed the entire gearing system, Alex was reduced to riding a single speed “fixie” for the rest of the race. With the big climbs of Leith Hill and Box Hill still to come, and without any low gears to use, the remaining 50 miles looked certain to test his legs, and his resolve!
Thankfully the rest of the race passed without further problems. As our legs burned and shoulders ached, we frantically knocked back energy gel after energy gel, in the vain hope it would alleviate the pain. After 7h 45m we finally crossed the finishing line in front of Buckingham Palace, the various incidents incurring an additional 2h 45m of delays on top of our 5 hours of riding time.
Some of the world’s best professional cyclists take part in the RideLondon-Surrey race which starts at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park before whizzing past some of London’s most famous landmarks and out in to the Surrey countryside, where cyclists face some of Surrey Hills’ most revered (and feared) climbs, including Leith Hill and Box Hill, before returning for an exciting final straight down the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. Taking a cue from the London Marathon, amateur cyclists also participate in the event and typically clear the roads at least an hour prior to the professionals taking over in the early evening. The 100-mile amateur challenge is on the same closed roads as the professionals but with the added incentive of raising money for good causes. After four successful years, the vision for Prudential RideLondon – to be one of the world’s leading cycling events and a lasting legacy of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games – has become reality.
SportsAid is the only national charity of its kind, proudly supporting young British sportsmen and women who aspire to be our next Olympic, Paralympic, Commonwealth and world champions. Typically aged 12 to 18 these athletes face huge challenges, without SportsAid many could not continue competing and their sports could not replace the funding SportsAid provides.
The impact on British sport, and as a consequence the British public, is huge: at London 2012 20 of Team GB’s 29 Olympic gold medals and 27 of ParalympicsGB’s 34 gold medals were won by athletes previously supported by SportsAid.
SportsAid was established in 1976 and its patron is Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge. The charity ensures the right athletes get the right help at the right time by working with the governing bodies of more than 60 sports. Each sport nominates their most promising young sportsmen and women to the charity once a year for financial support.
SportsAid athletes receive no other direct financial support – even when wearing the junior GB vest for European and world championship competitions. In the last three years, SportsAid has helped more than 5,000 of the nation’s brightest prospects and with your support the charity will be able to help more of the next generation to achieve their potential.