The Surrey Hills in the 2019 Prudential RideLondon 100

This video is about the Surrey Hills part of my Prudential RideLondon 100 in 2019, taking in Leith Hill and Box Hill. It’s a “director’s cut” from my full ride post at https://www.briansutton.uk/?p=1084.

The middle part of the video shows the cycling log-jam on Leith Hill, where we had to stop seven times, losing 10 minutes, on a section of no more than 400 metres, on the less steep, earlier part of the Leith Hill Lane climb.

Someone had fallen off just at the beginning of the steeper part ahead of us. Very frustrating! Apparently he rode off without thanking anyone for the help he was given to get going again.

The Leith Hill ascent is quite narrow, and there are always some cyclists walking on all the steep parts, effectively making it even narrower, which you can see this from the video.

The way to minimise such delays is to get an earlier start time, as advised by my friend Leslie Tennant, who has done the event half a dozen times. That keeps you clear of the slower riders.

But it was a great day overall, with the usual good weather, a big improvement over the previous year’s very wet weather, which I covered in my blog at https://www.briansutton.uk/?p=1108.

Here, then, is my Surrey Hills segment from the 2019 event.

The Prudential Ride London 100 Surrey hills, including Leith Hill and Box Hill

I have added here some screenshots of my Strava analysis for the Leith Hill segment, showing the speed, cadence and heart rate drops during those seven stops.

Time-based Strava analysis chart

First, the plot against time, which shows the speed drops very clearly, annotated as Stops 1 to 7. On the elevation profile, you can see that all of these were on the earlier part of the climb (shaded). The faller must had fallen at the point where the log-jam cleared (when a marshal told me what had happened, as I rode past at that point) at the end of that shaded section.

Important: Note that in this time-based x-axis chart, the time scale has the effect of lengthening (expanding) those parts of the x-axis scale (compared to the distance-based x-axis version later on), where we were ascending, as we took proportionately more time to cover a given distance during the delays (which would have been the case to a lesser extent at normal, slower uphill speeds anyway), and equivalently shortening the descending parts of the hill(s), where we cover more ground in comparatively less time. The shaded section of the chart shows this expansion effect on that (slow) part of the Leith Hill climb (behind the word “Leith”).

Strava analysis showing the 7 stops totalling 10 minutes

We see that the chart runs from about ride time 3:36:40 to 3:46:30, around 10 minutes. On the video I show that the first stop on that section was at time of day 10:47:14, and we got going again fully at 10:57:09, again about 10 minutes from beginning to end.

Distance-based Strava analysis chart

Next, the same Strava analysis, but with the graphs plotted against distance, instead of time.

As the elevation is in metres, the distance-based x-axis presents a more faithful rendition of the inclines – metres of height plotted against against kilometres of distance travelled, in the usual way.

Compared with the time-based chart above, this shows up as steeper ascending parts of all hills in the profile (slow riding), and less steep downsides for the hills (fast riding), which is usual when comparing time vs. distance based Strava ride analysis charts.

You will note that the (lighter) shaded section where the stops occurred is actually very short in the distance based graph (the light vertical line, behind the “i” in the “Leith” annotation) – it looks longer (in the time-based version, as well as apparently less steep as a result) in the darker shaded area of the time-based chart above. In reality, the steepness isn’t significantly different on that section, and it IS short.

Strava analysis showing the 7 stops totalling <400 metres

In this chart, this same section runs from just over 88.6 kms into the ride to just under 89 kms; i.e. between 350 – 400 metres from start to finish, some of which was walking, with a little riding, between periods of standing and waiting.

The little dips in the red heart rate curve at the 7 stops show up a little more clearly* on this chart too.

I eliminated the standing/waiting parts from the video, but you can see that I was moving very slowly even when trying to ride short parts of this section. Average speed on that section was, say, 400m in 10 minutes – 2.4 kms/hour, or 1.5 mph. Even I can ride up that hill a lot faster than that!

*The heart chart dips looks a little like ECG depressed t-waves. I know what those look like – I was diagnosed with depressed t-wave in a BUPA ECG test 50 years ago (for health insurance in my my first private sector job).

Because of that they also stress tested me on a treadmill, and had a problem getting my heart rate up, even raising the front of the treadmill, as well as speeding it up. So they also diagnosed brachycardia (slow heart rate). They found that my ECG returns to a normal pattern on exercise – phew!

My 2019 Prudential RideLondon 100 with Marie Curie

Getting my ballot entry for the 2020 Prudential RideLondon 100 has encouraged me to sort my GoPro clips out from the 2019 edition, and to make this video using those and pictures from the event – mine, the official Sportograf ones, and others taken by friends. It’s 47 minutes (it’s a long Sportive, took me 6 hours or so!) but there is also a short video, to get the flavour, on my YouTube channel, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibC54aueESw. 

On both this blog AND YouTube you will find quite a lot about cycling in Mallorca and the Balearics too – my next adventure will be the 6Points Mallorca ride on May 15/16/17th – read about that on my blog pinned post, at the top. It’s a 420kms 3-day ride, with 7500m of climbing, with plenty of coffee and cake opportunities! Lots about the May 2019 here on my blog too – just search for 6Points (you’ll also find the October 2019 Ibiza/Formentera 6Points events. In October 2020, that will be a 6Points Menorca ride).

THIS post is about my own 2019 Prudential RideLondon 100, riding for Marie Curie (as I did in 2018) in memory of my mother-in-law Laura, and in thanks for the help Marie Curie gave her and us during her final illness. I will ride for them again this year, even though I have my own entry.

It was much better weather than for the 2018 edition, and I was nearly an hour faster, despite delays on a crowded Leith Hill owing to someone falling off and needing help to get going again – which he did, with no thanks given to the marshals (they told me) but causing a 10 minute delay for everyone behind – including me. Just an occupational hazard of any large Sportive.

Overall it was a great experience, and together with the Saturday freeride (also shown in the pictures) the whole weekend was the usual fulfilling, enjoyable and well-organised experience.

This year I had the special pleasure of staying with my friend, Stuart, and his family Harriet and Lily, plus riding to the start with his son, Freddie.

I rode with Stuart (and Colin) back in the early 1960s with Bruce Castle Cycling Club, before my University days and the world of work. Riding with Freddie out to the Olympic Park closed a lovely loop!

I met up with riding friends Leslie (GGCC real life riding) and Simon (GGCC Zwifter, like me nowadays) at the end (Simon was under 5 hours, Leslie just on 5 hours) at Green Park, with the BHF charity, and Leslie’s brother Stephen who will be riding in 2020, as will Leslie, Simon and I.

Then it was dinner back at Stuart’s, and the train back to Glasgow the next day. Ernie (my bike) and I had travelled down to London very smoothly by Virgin Rail, and Leslie joined us for the return trip.

What a treat the whole weekend was! I’m looking forward to the 2020 edition enormously.

My 2019 Prudential RideLondon 100
The short version, no GoPro!

The Points of 6Points Challenges – or – why I love 6Points cycling

Introduction

I was attracted to the 6Points back in 2018, when I was already committed to some mass participation events which, while challenging and demanding, are a completely different experience from 6Points.

I set aside 2019 for my first 6points entries, both for the Mallorca event in May, and also for the Ibiza and Formentera event in October, both of which had been held in 2018, with Mallorca the inaugural 6Points event in 2017.

I have organised my thoughts into 6 points(!) which highlight the essential elements of 6Points for me, and why I intend to participate in 6Points twice a year from now on. But first, get a flavour of the Mallorca 6Points from the official video:

Official 6Points Mallorca video, 2019

1) Charitable purposes

I have ridden a few, not many, Sportive events, and they had all been in the UK previously. I’ve done them mostly because friends have recommended them; some of them have elements of my “6 Points” of attraction here, but none of them cover them all.

It’s always good to know that an event has a specific charitable purpose, as the 6Points has, as have some other events. I have raised significant funds for Marie Curie myself doing the Prudential RideLondon 100 twice, and, for its size, 6Points parallels that charitable focus.

Prudential RideLondon 100, 2019 (top of Box Hill)

But I doubt whether many others events are as proportionately successful as 6Points in fundraising for their chosen charities, especially events at the same kind of scale. I was frankly amazed (not in a good way!) to see the Mallorca 312 organisation broadcasting their €10,000 charitable donation this year, which even though the 312 is a commercial event, and not primarily a fundraiser, is really disappointing given that 8,000 people were riding. See more about the 312 and how busy it is (at least early on, until we decided to focus on the 225kms version) in my video collage from the 2018 event with my neighbour and cycling buddy, Leslie:

Mallorca 312 in 2018, with Leslie

By contrast, 6Points have managed, both from entrant fundraising and from their very active sponsors, to raise over €65,000 for their chosen charities (of which Asdica* is a primary one) in just three years of activity.

From a financial standpoint, the 6Points purpose is PRIMARILY charitable, and very successful, and that is good to see.

2) Location

I have to own up and say that I have virtually given up road riding back in the UK where I spend most of my time.

On the other hand, I LOVE riding in Mallorca (and now Ibiza and Formentera too, thanks to 6Points) and have been coming to Mallorca for 40 years and more.

Most of my riding is on Zwift nowadays, but 6Points (around which I now plan my Balearic cycling) gives me the opportunity to ride in much more relative safety (from a traffic perspective (or lack of it!)), in far more reliable weather, over many more days per year, and in great company.

Mallorca and the other Balearic islands are well provisioned with beautiful countryside, great views, and a suitable café around every corner, it seems, very often near the top of the wonderful climbs that abound on the islands.

I do have some of these possibilities where I live in Scotland; good company with my club, Glasgow Green Cycle Club (GGCC); and the topography and views – the Trossachs are on my doorstep; but road quality, weather and traffic are far less bike friendly than Mallorca.

Two road falls in Scotland (2015 and 2016), both owing to road conditions (and my own lack of foresight(?)) have persuaded me that the high mileage I like to do is safer indoors for the pain and base miles, and with 6Points Mallorca for the pleasure!

I know that many others, who have been even less fortunate than me regarding traffic, pothole and weather related incidents, are ready to change (and some HAVE changed) their cycling regime regarding training, racing and pleasure cycling: turbo for training; road (and track) for racing only; and somewhere sunny like Mallorca for pleasure!

3) Company & camaraderie

Most serious bike riders join a Cycling Club, as I did, and when I started riding (in the early 1960s) I almost immediately joined Bruce Castle Cycling Club. It’s the shared ethos of cycling for fun, the mutual support in case of adverse events (mechanicals, biologicals, psychologicals etc!) and all sorts of collateral social interactions that help the enjoyment of cycling.

6Points is just like a Club in those respects, only more so. As with GGCC, with 6Points we ride in small groups of 10 or a dozen or so. The groups pretty much self-select in terms of pace, covering all abilities and preferences, from the usual “steady” at 14-16mph, through several levels to a faster pace at 20mph+. There is freedom to swap between groups (we don’t always feel the same every day!), and at the cafés and over dinner, plans can be made to make sure you are in the right group for the day, or part of a day.

Each riding group is supported by its own vehicle (see below).

Above all, and we are lucky as cyclists with this, 6Points succeeds in attracting people who share that mutual ethos and shared supportive outlook which makes sure that everyone has every chance to get the best possible experience out of their days with 6Points. Many riders are back for their second or third visit, so that any rider can rely on having great company and experienced support: emotionally, practically and socially.  

4) The 6Points Challenge

On the 6Points Mallorca, we ride between 100kms and 100 miles each day. I have done quite a few 100 mile rides (when I was younger, back in the 1960s, it didn’t seem such a big thing – or I was so ignorant I didn’t know enough to worry!) Here is my “rider view” video photo collage of the 2019 6Points Mallorca event, where you see its Clubrun nature

6Points Mallorca, May 2019

I have done a few Imperial Centuries in recent years with my Club GGCC, but I admit that before the first 6Points, I wondered how I would cope with the Mallorca format of 160kms, 115kms and 160 kms on three CONSECUTIVE days. But it’s a challenge, right?!

Well, it turns out that even at 72 then (73 now) I need not have been concerned as a regular rider (albeit mostly on Zwift at 60kms a day, 5 days a week (that’s my regime)).

I know Mallorca quite well from many previous holidays and cycling trips (we are lucky enough to have an apartment there) so much of the route wasn’t going to be a surprise.

The first day is what I call “the Little Daddy” after the Mallorca Cycle Shuttle term “Big Daddy” for the ride from Andratx to Port Pollensa along the Ma10 road (very smooth and safe!) taking in the climbs to/from Port Valdemossa and Sa Calobra.

The “Little Daddy” version, in my terminology, misses out the descents to Port Valdemossa and Sa Calobra (and therefore the climbs out!) but we DO ride west first from Santa Ponsa to Sant Elm (the West “Point” of the 6Points) before heading east via Andratx and the Ma10 to Port Pollensa via the big climb at Puig Major (the high “point” of the 6Points) and quite a few other hills on the Ma10 (such as Coll de Femenia), to the very welcome dinner at Tolo’s (a sponsor) and an overnight hotel stay, after the odd 160kms.

I’ve done that ride before a few times (from Andratx, anyway) and so forewarned was forearmed, and also I KNEW it was going to be enjoyable. I have to say that in 2019 the weather was unusually – erm – windy and a little damp, but hey, it’s the exception that proves the rule!

But the good thing about the 6Points Mallorca format is that the hardest climbing day is that first day, for which you have time to prepare; the second day (Tolo’s up to Cap Formentor, the North “point”) and back to Tolo’s for breakfast, and then down to Cala Millor for our overnight stop via the East “point” at Cala Radjada, is just 115kms and fairly flat by comparison – an “active recovery day” I would say!

Finally, the third day is the same distance as Day 1, but also relatively more flat, from Cala Millor, via Cap Ses Salines (the South “point”) back to Santa Ponsa via the north side of Palma and Calvia, finishing where we started, on the beach at Caló d’en Pellicer (the lowest altitude “point” of our 6Points ride).

This is definitely a challenge, but from personal experience I can attest that doing the 440kms circuit of Mallorca in 3 days with 6Points is FAR preferable to trying to do the 312 kms of Mallorca in one daylight day. I want time to smell the flowers (and the coffee), not just my handlebars and stem!

In those respects, the 6Points IS a Challenge, but also a delight – not just afterwards, as an achievement to look back on, but also, crucially, DURING the event!

5) Organisation & support

One element that sets the 6Points experience apart from a Club ride is the high level of backup, with a vehicle available to support each group with equipment, water, food and any kind of moral support required. See the support in action during our October 2019 6Points in Ibiza:

6Points Ibiza October 2019

Although the events are described as “unsupported”, and riders are encouraged to plan JUST as they would for ANY long ride each day, and to carry the usual items on their bikes for small emergencies, there IS that backup if bike or body should fail in any way.

I have been getting a flavour, having got to know the event better, of the huge amount of work undertaken by the Visser family, and friends and sponsors (such as Ticket, for example) prior to the event: route planning; hotels researched and booked; any travel required (for the Ibiza and Formentera event especially); support vehicles and volunteer drivers; baggage and equipment transport; sponsor identification and confirmation; other funding; entry and rider communications; and much more.

I can see that the reason the event has the “family and friends” touch and feel mentioned below is because that is exactly how it is organised; with close attention to detail from a small, consistent group of dedicated people, determined to make sure the event is fault-free for those they regard as their friends and family!

6) Touch and feel

I first heard of 6Points in early 2018 when I had already entered the Mallorca 312 that year. along with the Prudential RideLondon 100, which I have also ridden a couple of times. These are mass participation events, with 8,000 and 32,000 riders respectively.

As I said, the 6Points has very much the feel of a family and friends event, at a scale which is much more akin to a Cycling Club event, albeit over a few days.

Depending a little on which group you choose to ride with, frequent/sufficient café stops are part of the planning, and overnight, between good days of riding between 100kms and 100 miles, there are hotels and evening meal locations chosen to suit the needs of cyclists riding those kinds of distances.

Social interaction and discussion is highly encouraged, and lively!

The prime intention for the riders is that they should ENJOY the event. Some Sportives (as I know very well) turn into races for a proportion of the participants, which for mass events can create issues for fun riders.

At 6Points, with the Clubrun feel it has for each small riding group, each rider knows that those around her/him have the same, FUN objective. No-one is under pressure to keep up a pace – the groups, and especially the “steady” group are no-drop, and there is, as mentioned, great backup to keep everyone going.

Summary

I am a convert! I plan to do the 6Points events into the foreseeable future, both Spring and Autumn, with Mallorca the Spring focus, and, in 2020, with Menorca on the autumn calendar for the first time. Here is the Formentera 6Points from October 2019:

6Points Formentera October 2019

I have an extensive network of Zwift and “in-real-life (irl)” riders and friends, both locally and internationally, and I recommend wholeheartedly the 6Points experience to them all – and to you!

*Asdica – a Mallorcan charity benefiting disabled children. See lots more on the 6Points website at https://6pointschallenges.com/

Ride the Senses 6Points Mallorca in October 2020!

October 2nd/3rd/4th 2020 is only 6 months away! We have postponed from May, for obvious reasons, until the autumn, when the weather in Mallorca is also at its best for cycling.

What a way to enjoy 3 days of fantastic riding in the sun, and see whole perimeter of the beautiful island of Mallorca.

We will go to some great restaurants and hotels (Senses Hotels are our Title sponsor) and you will also enjoy the signature camaraderie of all 6Points events.

Get your Registration in now at https://6pointschallenges.com/sign-up-to-6points-mallorca-2020/

Weʼre raising funds to help the Asdica children’s charity, and Save-the-Med, both based in Mallorca. 6Points Cycling Challenges has raised over £66,000 in 3 years, and our work continues. Please support us at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bryan-visser-4

You can enjoy this 6Points weekend on Mallorca on 2nd/3rd/4th October 2020 as part of a whole week of cycling (as I will again!) doing some of the other climbs mentioned and shown in my blog such as Sobremunt (the hardest climb in Mallorca), Port Valdemossa, Port Canonge, Col de Soller, Orient, Col de sa Bataia and/or many others.

Route options for the weekend will also allow riders in some groups to vary/extend the course, if you feel up to it, to include Sa Calobra on Day 1, and the climbs at Galilea and Es Grau on Day 3 as we return to Santa Ponsa.

You can fly out to Mallorca on the Tuesday before, and return on Tuesday evening the following week by EasyJet, once flights resume.

You will ride the Big Daddy Ma10 across northern Mallorca (100+ miles) on Friday 15th; 115kms on Saturday 16th May from Port Pollensa (via Cap Formentor) to Sa Coma; and from there back to Santa Ponsa (100 miles again) on Sunday 17th, with two wonderful hotel nights and dinners during the ride.

We top and tail the weekend with optional nights at Senses Santa Ponça on the nights of Thursday 1st October and Sunday 4th October, where we will have our rider briefing launch dinner on Thursday 1st October, and our end of event celebration dinner on Sunday 4th October.

On the ride itself, Friday dinner will be at Tolo’s in Port Pollensa, with our overnight stay at the Pollensa Park Hotel, and Saturday night will be dinner and overnight at Hipotels Mediterráneo Hotel in Sa Coma.

On Thursday evening before the ride, the rider briefing and dinner is at at Santa Ponça Senses Hotel (at the starting location by the Caló d’en Pellicer beach). On Sunday night, our 3 day ride finishes at the same place, and we celebrate our 6Points ride with presentations and barbecue, again at the Santa Ponça Senses Hotel. We can book those (and other) nights there for you if you wish.

Anyone who wants to take my own approach of going for the week, Tuesday to Tuesday to Mallorca, is welcome to let me know, and keep me company, either side of the 440kms weekend (with the odd 7500m of climbing!)

You can’t have missed that I did the Mallorca 6Points in May 2019, and it was a brilliantly organised event; more riders (up from 50 to around 75) will be coming next time, for the 2020 edition, and subject to demand there might even be a partners’ programme to allow families to enjoy the sights.

My rider view of the 6Points Mallorca in May 2019

The Senses 6Points Mallorca in October 2020 offers wonderful riding at a perfect time of the year: beautiful autumn cycling weather in the Balearics; very easy travel to and from this popular cycling destination; and very cycling friendly roads, cafés and people.

Ride the 6Points in Ibiza and Formentera!

www.facebook.com/events/561199834284820/

October 5/6th is only 6 weeks away!

What a way to celebrate the onset of autumn and enjoy 2 days of fantastic riding in the sun and see the two beautiful islands of Ibiza and Formentera.

We will go to some great restaurants and you will also enjoy the signature camaraderie of all 6Points events.

Get your Registration in now at https://6pointschallenges.com/6points-ibiza-2019/

Weʼre raising £1,500 to help children’s charities on Mallorca. 6Points Cycling Challenges has raised over £61,000 in 3 years. Our work continues. Please support us at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bryan-visser-4

You can enjoy this taster weekend on Ibiza on 5/6th October (as I am) prior to the Mallorca event on 15/16/17th May 2020!

For the most focused long weekend way of doing it, you can fly out to Ibiza on Friday 4th October, and return on Sunday evening or Monday morning, having ridden on Formentera (65kms) on Saturday 5th and Ibiza (135kms) on Sunday 6th, with hotel nights at Ibiza Playa Hotel.

Anyone who wants to take my approach of going via Mallorca and ferry to/from Ibiza is welcome to let me know and keep me company Tuesday 1st -Tuesday 8th October, either side of the weekend in Ibiza.

You can’t have missed that I did the Mallorca 6Points in May this year and it was a brilliantly organised event, which I will be doing again in May 2020.

This shorter Ibiza event in October offers a perfect taster with wonderful autumn cycling weather in the Balearics, with the possibility of either direct travel to Ibiza, or spending a week travelling and cycling via Mallorca.

Riding for Marie Curie at Prudential RideLondon on July 29th

As friends will know, our family spent the greater part of 2017 in London last year caring for my mother-in-law, Laura, in her final illness. Marie Curie provided much respite caring help on several night a week, and I’ll be trying to show gratitude by riding for them in the Prudential RideLondon this year, and fundraising on their behalf.

I have a fundraising page at JustGiving - Sponsor me now! on behalf of Marie Curie, in memory of Laura. Please visit and donate what you can.

If you have a UK mobile number, you can also just text OUEM50 and the amount to 70070. For example, if you wanted to donate £10 to Marie Curie via my JustGiving code OUEM50, you’d text:

‘OUEM50 £10’ and send to the number 70070