Riding London to Windsor | Long Ride Lessons

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Riding London to Windsor | Long Ride Lessons

It’s been a few years (circa 2017) since I’ve been logging consistent long weekend rides but the 100km ride from London to Windsor seemed like a good idea especially with RideLondon Essex on the horizon.

In reality, completing 100km was a good way of testing if I had a chance of completing 100 miles, some 7 weeks later. I’ve been training consistently with Beyond CC, but part of me was a little anxious about whether I can actually ride 100 miles or not!

Anyway, there was only one way to find out, so I braved the early start to make my way into and across London to meet the rest of the Black Girls Do Bike (BGDB) riders taking on the London to Windsor ride.

Buckingham Palace, London to Windsor Castle

I took the tube from Essex to Leyton, then made my way to Blackfriars to meet Jade (@sci.clist) so we could make our way over to the meeting point – Buckingham Palace – together.

Being such an early start, and having had the busiest of days before I didn’t have time for breakfast but luckily there was a Pret at Blackfriars where I grabbed an espresso topped up with oat milk (which apparently is known as a macchiato lol) and a chocolate croissant to full me through the morning.

Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle  - Jade and Elle at Windsor Castle
Jade and I at Windsor Castle

We rode the CS3 cycle route with only a slight detour by foot when the road surrounding Big Ben was closed to all traffic, arriving in good time to meet the BGDB ladies.

Our route took us south of the river pretty quickly, making our way through Battersea and Wandsworth before hitting Richmond Park.

Richmond Park

I don’t ride over that side of London much, but it was only about 6 months ago, I’d ridden in Richmond Park whilst taking part in the London Duathlon. We made a quick stop for the toilet before continuing towards Kingston where I recognised the roads from RideLondon Surrey 46 way back in 2017!

We then cut through Bushy Park to Hampton, making our way to Chertsey. The traffic by this time was really building up; it’s at times like that I’m so happy I’m on a bike and not stuck in a car.

We made a lot of stops on the route in order to cater to different abilities on the ride so by this point, the clock was starting to tick and my belly was letting me know a chocolate croissant was not sufficient food!

I’d packed and eaten some shotbloks, a banana and some chocolate so far, but by now, I was craving real, actual food. Constantly doing maths in my head (km we’ve travelled, minus the commute, miles in km and km into miles) I was thinking we’d hit Windsor around 50km in but I had miscalculated somewhere.

Windsor Great Park

So we kept rolling, and finally made it to Windsor Great Park, which brought back more great memories for me of taking part in the 25hour relay race, Red Bull Timelaps back in 2019. Climbing what I recalled was known as Heartbreak Hill after hours and hours of riding, and in dire need of food, was not fun, but it got done.

It was at this point, I knew I couldn’t stop anymore; I needed food asap. I also thought we were much closer than we were, so when we saw Windsor Castle, way away in the distance, we knew we still had work to do.

Myself, Jade and Beatrice (fellow Beyond CC member) worked together to get to Windsor Town Centre as quickly as we could so we could eat and rest before attempting to ride all the way back to London.

Cinnamon Cafe Windsor

Cinnamon Cafe Windsor - bacon sandwich, oat milk latte and cinnamon bun

Being 3pm and only having eaten a croissant, I went in at Cinnamon Cafe, having a bacon sandwich and a jacket potato with tuna, sweetcorn mayonnaise and an oat milk latte. It’s also crucial to find the balance between eating enough to make up for the work you’d done, the work left to do whilst not making yourself uncomfortable to get back on the bike.

Cinnamon Cafe Windsor is located in Windsor Royal Station, Goswell Hill, Windsor SL4 1PJ

By this point, it was about 3pm; the time I had figured I would be at least back in London, if not back home so having a small breakfast didn’t phase me as I thought I’d get to Windsor for lunch and be home for dinner.

Incase you didn’t know, Cinnamon Cafe offer a 10% ‘lycra’ discount for cyclists! You don’t even have to ask for it…. they just apply it to your bill. I did get myself half a cinnamon roll too (they’re giant) but ended up wrapping it up to go as emergency rations for the road home.

Riding Windsor to London

Elle at Windsor Castle - riding London to Windsor and back again

Once we’d eaten, taken pictures outside Windsor Castle and celebrated actually making that far, it was time to make a move to get back to London. It was pertinent for me to get back as soon as possible as I hadn’t brought any lights with me (remember I thought I would be home by mid-afternoon).

The reality was we needed to do the same distance, in 1/2 – 1/3 of the time! It’d taken us 6 hours to get there, and we needed to get back in 2-3 hours in what Jade called ‘chasing the sunset’.

With just a few short stops, and food in our bellies, we upped our pace to tick off the miles back to London and I cannot even explain how I have never in my life been so happy to see London and it’s traffic when we hit the outskirts.

By this point, I was well over 100km… so decided to head to Liverpool Street where I could get an overground train to Chingford and get picked up to save myself from another 10km of cycling to Leyton to pick up the tube.

Turns out, this was the farthest I’ve ridden in one day on the bike… only my days of training and riding London to Paris came anywhere close, and that was back in 2017. So needless to say… a few lessons were learnt….

Total Distance: 130.35km (including another 1.73km riding from my house to Loughton tube station)

Long Ride Lessons

“Was a ride of two halves… first half was chilled with lots of stops which meant we arrived at Cinnamon Cafe when I had expected to be home.”

“Also meant to ride back (needed to do the distance in prep for RideLondon) we needed to pick up the pace as I had no lights 😅 …super proud of our efforts tbh. We were out there waaaaaay longer than I’ve ever been out on my bike 👀 …now to sleep / recover and trust the rest of my training!”

Elle on STRAVA

Here are some takeaways from the day, which especially need to be taken into account on event day:

Remember to take into account the distance to the start line, and whatever distance you need to do after the finish. I’m looking into booking a hotel before and after RideLondon Essex 100 to save the hassle of the extra kms before and after.

Try to minimise stopping in order to keep on track time-wise. I also found that later into the ride, my legs would take a few moments to warm up again and get into a rhythm so stopping became detrimental. RideLondon Essex 100 has an 8.5 hour cut off, where all riders need to be done by 6pm.

Pack ‘proper’ food for long rides. After a while, gels, chocolate and flapjack just don’t cut it. Reading back on my long ride posts I see I was smart enough to take a tuna and sweetcorn bagel, which sounds like a good plan.

Always pack a musette – they come in super handy for stowing a jacket when you get too warm or in my case, a cinnamon bun for the ride home / later. Jade, who I rode with, had this one which comes with a stabilising strap to keep it secure when riding. Also can’t recommend this bar bag enough; it fit’s all my snacks, my lock, light windproof jacket and so much more!

When I do sit down to eat my meal, if I need to get back on the bike I try to ensure I don’t overeat to the point that cycling will be uncomfortable or that I’ll feel tired.

Post Ride Recovery

Once I made it home, the only thing on my mind was a shower, food and bed. Let the recovery begin!

The question about post ride / event recovery actually came up in the Beyond CC community not long ago. One of our community members asked “How can you ensure that you stay strong while recovering after an intense event?”.

Coach Alison shared that your post event recovery is pretty much the same as recovery after a long weekend ride. Ideally, you’ll want to stretch as soon as you finish your ride, rehydrate (and continue to replace electrolytes if needed) and immediately start consuming proteins and carbohydrates. You can buy recovery shakes for convenience, if away from home.

The following day, get on the foam roller for some active recovery and / or get on your bike (indoors or out) for an easy recovery spin. You still need to keep active post event; take it easy for a couple of days then get back into your normal routine. 

I second what Coach Alison shared above, in addition to (always) getting the best quality sleep that you can. Magnesium spray / tablets help with both muscle recovery and sleep too, so that’s a bonus.

Well, now that ride is in the bag, it’s onto the next one. My next long ride is planned to be taking on part of the RideLondon Essex route, which is crucial at this point. Although RideLondon Essex “only” has about 1200m of elevation, London to Windsor and back again was flat as a pancake in comparison.

Looks like hill training is on the cards!

Have you ridden London to Windsor before?! Any route tips to share?!]


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