Event Review

REVIEW: Dulux London Trade Revolution

by Caven O'Hara

Everyone now and then an event captures your attention for all sorts of reasons. It might be the location, the distance, the food stops and occasionally you get a mix of all of this and more and you can't help but get drawn in. I've known mates who raved about the Dulux Trade London Revolution for many years, the current sponsors are in their third year of getting behind one of the capital's biggest cycling events. 


Dulux Trade don't just add a splash of colour to the event that takes you round and through the nation's capital, they have made it an event to remember. 

For anyone who looks at the route outline and feels this is too much for them to take on, don't be daunted. Yes you can attempt the Ultra, the full 300Km in a single day or break it down into manageable chunks over two days consisting of 160Km and 140Km. The advantage of riding over two days besides the obvious break in saddle time, is the overnight stay at Windsor racecourse. The lines of neatly arrayed tents offering respite for the night can be upgraded to the glamping option, which sold out this year. This coupled with the entertainment area in the form of a bar on a double decker bus, a marque with live music, heaters and comfy chairs plus plenty of food outlets if you don't go for the dinner/breakfast choice is worth investigating. You aren't only limited to these choices, there are single day options, where you can select which day you want to tackle plus corporate packages. 


With this myriad of choice, I only had eyes for one, the Ultra. Every now and then I like the idea of doing something on the epic side. I've done the distance before but when you factor in the climbing, the section through London and the length of time you have a number of unknown factors. 


The day started on the back foot despite leaving at 0345 to ensure I got to Windsor for the briefing and 6am start, I was sat in stationary traffic by 0430. The vehicle fire that halted my progress thankfully had no casualties and I was soon on my way and still managed to arrive and get to the start line for the off. With those taking part in the two day option, the racecourse was not as busy as it would be later but there were still almost 250 hardy souls ready to tackle the Ultra. Up from 40 the year before when the 300Km option was first offered, it shows the desire to take on different challenges. 


The roll out was fairly sedate, given the task ahead this was sensible although a few did seem to be pushing hard early doors and soon fell away. The route is split into six sections, the first 51Km made up the Thames Valley segment and the views were pretty good even at this early stage. There were some climbs that did little to break up the large groups. Below Aylesbury we headed east into section two, the Chilterns. An area re-known as one of outstanding beauty there was a lot to admire as the kilometres ticked by and the terrain was not hugely challenging...yet. This changed after the first food stop at Princes Risborough. There was plenty of snacks, drinks and toilets but on leaving another rider came alongside to provide a little local nugget of information. As we started a long drag, he said that this was a proper climb with more to come after we turned off onto Kop Hill Road, with some ramps over 20% it was indeed a bit of a grind. That much so that one poor guy failed to keep his front wheel on the tarmac and hit the deck, luckily nothing apart from his pride was damaged.


Stage three started just after St Albans, the Woodland World and the more sheltered confines of Epping Forest. It was on this stretch that I met Julian and we would share the load over the next 100Kms or so before the elastic snapped. The second feedstop was at Lee Valley itself, with hot food on offer which was very welcome. One of the difficulties on a long ride is keeping the food and liquid intake up but also making sure it is varied. Your stomach can switch off with too much sugary, sweet energy products. The last thing you'll need is a digestive issue. 


After a good feed it was time to head out of Lee Valley and into the city itself. The traffic by now had ramped up a level. It had been building since we started turning south north of Enfield, passing Tottenham's training ground was significant for the security outside and the fancy cars pulling up. Into London and heading towards the iconic landmark of Tower Bridge, through Haringey it was very stop, start. It didn't help that we had arrived at lunchtime on the Saturday. Those doing the two day option would have left Lee Valley early doors and would have missed the bulk of the traffic. 


Heading over the river we started to get a little damp as the forecasted showers materialised. Sods law would have it that as we started climbing the hill up to Crystal Palace the road began to get a little greasy due to the rain. What started as a shower turned into something heavier and as we would discover, it didn't stop until near the end, so much for showers! 


Stage four was labelled as Iconic London and extended down through Croydon into Oxted. Eventually the traffic did subside and the roads began to return to quieter arteries that led out of the city. Stage five would take us out into the Green and Pleasant Lands, including the North Downs. The rain had been unrelenting and for a while the temperature was reasonable but had begun to drop. Some of the descents including down Titsey Hill were a little hairy with the rain not letting up. Safely down and over the M23 to turn west meant the final leg wasn't too far away. 


The final feedstop was at Ewhurst Green and by now we had started to pass some of the riders on the two day option. It wasn't helped by the fact the rain had not stopped, we were perhaps five hours into continual drizzle and the temperature had fallen. So much so that when I was having a snack at the stop with a coffee, one guy came up to get his and he couldn't drink it due to his hand shaking so much. Another was stood in the tent trying to fashion an extra layer out of a bin bag, all the while shivering uncontrollably. In the end some riders took refuge in the support van for some temporary relief. I luckily had a rain jacket and a spare pair of full finger gloves in my pocket, which were donned gratefully.


This did mean the last two big climbs were still to be conquered, Pitch Hill and Coombe Lane, after the stop. By this time I met Scott, who'd had a few mechanicals but was still cracking on so we worked together. Without a full set of working gears he was finding it a little tough of the hills but we kept an eye on each other and chatted away the kilometres. It was almost pleasurable to be climbing as you could generate some extra heat. Not to be sniffed at this stage of proceedings. 


The final stage, Beauty and some Beasts was at this time probably not far off from the truth. Progress was good but at times it felt as though the mileage wasn't ticking down, certainly not fast enough. The saving grace was the rain had relented but the final few miles through Woking and Ascot to the outskirts of Windsor took an age. Even the section through the old town seemed cruel as we took what felt like a very circuitous route back to the finish. The mind plays funny tricks when you're tired.

 

Eventually the right turn back into the racecourse appeared and the final few hundred metres with Scott were ticked off and the finish line crossed. The announcer was doing a great job of cheering everyone back and big'ing up the effort made by those finishing the Ultra.

If you fancy a challenge then next year's event takes place on 11th and 12th May. Entries will be open on 11th July 2018 and there'll be an early bird entry offer but cyclists can register interest now at https://www.london-revolution.com/register-interest/

Good luck!





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