16 September 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Event review: London Nightrider 100k Challenge

June 27, 2011
Nightrider-1

Sportsister joined 1,000 lycra-clad cyclists on a moonlit 100k cycle challenge through the deserted streets of London on June 11 in the annual London Nightrider.  The London Nightrider is an exciting way to raise funds for your favourite charity, whilst exploring the country’s capital at night on a bike – a truly unique event!

Nightrider-1This event allowed each participant to raise money for the charity of their choice. While the capital slept over £250,000 was raised for a variety of great causes.

I was taking part in the event as challenge one out of twelve that I plan to complete in the next year. You can read all about it here on my blog.

The Course

The ride had two start points for participants to choose between, either Alexandra Palace or Crystal Palace. There were four pit stops every 25k or so to allow people to have a rest, refuel with the plentiful supplies of tea, coffee, biscuits and bananas, as well as use the rest-room facilities. My route started at Alexandra Palace and the whole 100k was a loop anti-clockwise finishing again at Alexandra Palace a fair few hours later!

The route was signposted with special ‘Nightrider signs’ the whole way. These were a bit tricky at night, especially through central London areas which I hit around 2-3am and was when ‘normal’ people were coming to the end of their nights out on the town. Initially I thought this would be a detracting factor with the challenge taking place on a Saturday night, however drunken socialites provided unique and extremely enthusiastic support!

The route was intelligently worked out taking riders past over 50 of London’s most famous streets and iconic landmarks such as Tower Bridge, a deserted City of London, Canary Wharf, Hampstead Heath, London Zoo, Piccadilly and Oxford Circus, British Museum, London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Albert Hall, Battersea Power Station, as well as famous buildings and infrastructure away from central London such as Alexandra and Crystal Palace, the Emirates Stadium and more. These provided excellent distractions to help push me through the tough parts of the challenge.

The weather could not have been more perfect with a mild clear night, the moon literally lighting the way (it was very big) and then a simply stunning sunrise which I experienced just coming over London Bridge at the third pit stop.

Nightrider-2

 

Organisation

I couldn’t fault the organisation in the run up to, or even during the event itself. Information regarding the route, your race number and food vouchers were sent out a week before the event. The route was provided in a variety of forms, a Google map with the route mapped on, a road by road guide break-down, as well as longitude and latitude for GPS devices.  The registration process at the event was simple and quick. You simply handed in your contact details and were handed the event support contact card in case of emergencies or break downs, as well as a high-visibility vest. The start point had food, toilets, music and bike mechanics, allowing you get your bike checked before you hit the road.

The start was well organised and staggered for safety reasons, which meant that each participant was allocated a specific start time between 11 pm and 1am.  This was great as it meant along the whole route, participants were scattered so if you were doing the event on your own you always ended up cycling with others.

All the pit stops were clearly shown with a very friendly and enthusiastic (appreciated at that time in the morning) marshal ushering you in. These were well located at even distances. After the race finished, everyone received their medals, and a well deserved breakfast.

Nightrider-3

Would I do it again?

Yes, I definitely would. Even though it is possible to do the route on your own and still get a lot of enjoyment out of it, I think it does help to be with another person or a group of people as it adds all the more to the experience.

Good Points:

– Nice uplifting and inspirational atmosphere as everyone is raising money for their favourite charity.

– Fantastic route around London passing iconic landmarks.

– Great for London residents and tourists alike as there is something for everyone.

– Unique event taking place at night and allows riders to experience quite roads a beautiful sunrise.

– Pit Stops were stocked with a variety of foodstuffs, water, tea and rest rooms. Participants were provided food vouchers to use at the half way point and for breakfast at the end.

– The whole route was on roads which had good quality lighting so you never felt isolated or on your own.

– Bike mechanics were stationed at each pit stop and each participant was provided with an event support contact card so if you broke down on the road full support and mechanics could be called out.

Bad Points:

– The route was signposted, but through some of the busy central London points the signs were situated just a little too late to see in order to signal, maneuver and get your way through the traffic to turn. This caused quite a few people to go the wrong way.

– The signs were difficult to see at night compared to daylight.

– The route hit some heavy traffic points in central London so I would not advice this for someone who is not confident on a bike.

Want to give it a go?

Classic tours are already in the process of organising next year’s Olympic Nightrider event special which will have 5000 places available, as well as running ones in Paris and New York.

Olympic Nightrider™ London 2012 will be launched in late summer 2011.  To register interest now – visit www.nightrider.org.uk

Clarissa Goodwin, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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