It was a cool evening in late April when I got an invite in my email to go to London for the world’s greatest festival of cycling. Truth be told, it made me look twice.
I was at the peak of my preparations for this website’s annual SBR.ph Tri Series races. Along with a baby on the way, one could say that I was enjoying my no-way-I-am-training-now-moments. But since PRU RideLondon event won’t be due for at least 3 months, I thought to myself, maybe I could squeeze some decent training in? Truth be told, with the amount of work that I needed to do, I knew deep inside that training would be next to impossible. But to pass up on this once in a lifetime opportunity? No way.
Besides, the event had two options, the 100 miles (PRL100) and the 46 miles (PRL46) category.
Of course, I confirmed for the 100 miles. :) In my mind, that’s just 160k. In triathlon, we would do 180k and would still need to run 42k after. How hard could this be?
So I might a choice. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Backed by Pru Life Philippines, the pioneer and current market leader of unit-linked or investment-linked life insurance products, enlisted the cycling trio of Kuya Kim Atienza, Gretchen Ho, and Zoren Legaspi to be its ambassadors both for the local Pru Life organized races and its main event, the Pru RideLondon 2019. The event last year raised close to £13 million for charity, which they aim to match this year.
I, on the other hand, was selected as one of the local media to cover and participate in the event. The media contingent was also joined by PRULifers Nelsi Rabe and Ryan Benguelo who are also first-timers in London. Nelsi competed in the PRL50 while Ryan took on the bigger challenge and raced the PRL100. They are also part of a more than 100 strong PRU contingent from various Prudential companies all over the world (Asia, Africa, US, and the UK) who are cycling for a cause. Khalil Robles, Pru Life UK AVP for Brand and Advertising, also cycled at the event.
The team has collectively raised already over US$26,000 in support of the Posko Jenggala Humanitarian Movement Foundation, a disaster relief organization that is backing up the recovery efforts of quake-hit communities in Lombok, Indonesia.
(L-R: Khalil Robles – Pru Life UK AVP for Brand and Advertising; Bim Santos of One News; Yours Truly; Ambassadors Kuya Kim Atienza, Zoren Legaspi, and Gretchen Ho; Ryan Benguelo and Nelsi Rabe – Pru Life UK riders)
With less than 100k in total bike mileage under my belt before the race, I knew that I would have to dig (very) deep and use all my experience from doing long-distance triathlon races if I want to finish the 100 miler. My last race or any significant training that I did was over two years ago. A big yikes. Luckily for me, cycling has always been my forte. So I knew that as long as I pace myself properly and nail my nutrition, I would finish the ride.
To make things interesting, I was lucky enough to get support from some friends in the industry as soon as they heard about the event.
- Lapierre Philippines offered me to use their premium #Lapierre Pulsium FDJ Team Edition bike. The very same bike their pro team uses at Le Tour de France!
- Garmin also joined the fun with a Fenix 5X+
- Last but not least, I got a bike fit session at the Run X Cycle Studio (RXC). Since I was undertrained, I requested from our partner, Maximum Performance Lab, for a fit that would give me the most power at the most comfortable position. And like magic, it worked! I was able to cycle the course and the hills without much effort. Check out RXC on our website and social media (@runxcycle) if you want to schedule a fit. ;)
As for mileage, the only road session I had for this event was a single 2-hour ride at Mall of Asia. I trained mostly indoors riding the London course online at the Run X Cycle Studio. There, I was able to simulate the course and prepare myself at least mentally for the hills. You may check my Strava if you want to verify. :)
THE CREW FROM PRU
“It’s not just the ride, it’s really the entire experience”
As mentioned by Pru Life UK chief marketing officer, Allan Tumbaga, the Prudential RideLondon is about experiencing what London, and the event, has to offer. The event is NOT a race.
(L-R: Chino Trinidad – GMA7, Lou Albano – GMA News Online, Judith Caringal – Sports Radio, June Navarro – PDI, Carlos de Guzman – SWIMBIKERUN.ph, Ryan Benguelo – Pru Life UK rider, Anthony Suntay – Philstar, Allan Tumbaga – Pru Life UK Chief Customer Marketing Officer, Kim Atienza, Gretchen Ho, Zoren Legaspi – PruRide PH ambassadors, Carmina and Maverick Legaspi, Emil Noguera – Manila Times, Nelsi Rabe – Pru Life UK rider, Bim Santos – ONE News, Raymund Loreto – Pru Life UK Senior Manager Brand and Advertising, Gizelle Camua – Pru Life UK AVP for Corporate Affairs and Khalil Robles – Pru Life UK AVP for Brand and Advertising)
The trip kicked off at the Prudential RideLondon Cycling Show where we claimed our race kits and got first dibs on the latest cycling tech and gear. The event was well organized and race kit claiming was a breeze. Can you imagine an event in the Philippines with over 100k participants? As a race organizer myself, I definitely took some notes.
The first big salvo of the trip came was at the Prudential Barbecue Party which was held at the scenic and historic Holborn Bars of London.
We were welcomed by Jonathan Oliver, Prudential Group Communications Director, and Sponsorships Head, Diane Pender. To say that the guests were treated to the best meal (and drinks!) London has to offer after the pleasantries would be an understatement. It was a feast!
While most of the crew joined the Guided London Cycling Tour the following day. Some Pru Riders, including myself, opted to have a brief shakedown ride so we can test our bikes as well as have one final tune-up ride. It was also a good opportunity to bond and share a few laughs (and a good cup of coffee!) with the Pru Life Ambassadors.
THE RACE WEEKEND
The Classique race featured Fil-Am Cycling Ace Coryn Rivera who took 3rd place after two-time defending champion and provisional winner Kirsten Wild made a dangerous swerve which caused several women cyclists to crash. After a lengthy review, the organizers ruled that Wild is disqualified which meant Lorena Wiebes of Team Parkhotel Valkenburg was given 1st place and Elisa Balsam of Team Valcar Cylance, 2nd place.
The Brompton World Championships also kicked off after the Classique.
THE MAIN EVENT
And here we go! The only goal for the day was to finish the PRL100. I had my game plan in place plus my tried and tested nutrition plan. But true to form, like any of my past races, none of it went according to plan. The goal of taking it easy? That went out the door as soon as the starting gun popped.
My plan to average a leisurely speed of 23-25kph (max!) throughout the ride didn’t happen. By the first 10k, I was averaging close to 30+kph! I knew I had to back down or else I would pay for it later in the ride. Which I did, of course. Also, I could barely drink because I had to focus on keeping up with the pack.
Riding the towns, hills, and outskirts of London on a bike was a surreal experience. There are no words to describe just how beautiful the view was (I wish I could stop to take videos and pictures but it just wasn’t possible due to the number of riders). The roads were 100% closed to traffic and the support from the community was simply overwhelming. As soon as we hit the towns, I made a conscious decision to slow down and ride at my own pace so I can soak it all in. How often does this happen? Getting in the event itself via the lottery is hard enough! There were times during the ride when speed didn’t matter anymore. But rather, how much you’re able to take in and absorb in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
It was a bit unfortunate that the organizers had to close certain areas of the course due to pileups and accidents but it is what it is. That won’t take anything away from this experience.
“Why should we be in a hurry?” said a local rider in a British tone as we were munching on some snacks at an aid station. “As long as we make the cut-off, we’re good. We’re ways ahead of the schedule so let’s just enjoy this. It’s not a race anyway”, she mentioned.
She was right.