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Just before leaving for the ride in London news came through that Martin Johnson who is an England and International Rugby star – former Captain of Leicester Tigers, England Captain and Coach has joined the Alpine Challenge.

Martin is a very keen cyclist and has just done a challenging ride in the Dolomites. As Patron of Hope Against Cancer his involvement has given everyone a massive boost. It is going to be a great privilege to be riding with this giant of a man – a legend!

Prior to RideLondon was an open cycling event FreeCycle in the city centre when the roads were closed to all traffic and over 80,000 cyclists cycled along some iconic places in London. For me it was quite an experience and it was so good to see people of all ages and fitness cycling along in a carnival atmosphere, especially families with young children. Well done London! The legacy of London 2012 lives on and is inspiring a whole new generation.

On Waterloo Bridge with the London Eye and Westminster in the background

On Waterloo Bridge with the London Eye and Westminster and Big Ben in the background

On The Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace

On The Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace

More views from Waterloo Bridge

More views from Waterloo Bridge

Carnival atmosphere

Carnival atmosphere

On Sunday The Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 mile meant an early rise at 5.30 to get to the start at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at 08.26. The route again took us from the East End of London past Canary Wharf and the financial district through the City, past Harrods, Kingston-upon-Thames, Hampton Court and through to the beautiful and challenging Surrey Hills. Finally the route wound its way past Esher and Wimbledon back along the Thames to The Mall to finish in front of Buckingham Palace for a cup of tea with Her Royal Highness!

Leith Hill and Box Hill are more difficult than any I have done before. Unfortunately on both these hills there were massive hold ups. The first before the ascent on Leith Hill was unfortunately a 55 year old rider who collapsed with a suspected heart attack and in spite of the air ambulance attending was pronounced dead on the road side. How tragic especially for the family. The second hold up was shorter due to an accident on the descent of Box Hill. There were other smaller hold ups due to accidents when riders came off their bikes and on occasions due to bottlenecks. The ride in its third year has grown to over 25,000 riders and has become a victim of its own success. A serious rethink is required for the following years.

At the start outside Lee Valley Velodrome in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

At the start outside Lee Valley Velodrome in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Happy with exhaustion at the finish

Happy with exhaustion at the finish

My official recorded time is 7:45:49 but this doesn’t take into account the delays but happily Strava has come to the rescue and after careful calculation my time is 6 hours and 6 minutes. This is a massive improvement on last year even taking into account the horrendous weather then. All in all I think I must have taken an hour off my previous time! But even more important than that is that I climbed up the iconic hills and felt very good throughout the ride at times at high speed and overtaking many hundreds of other much younger cyclists.

I feel now that I am ready for the next phase – which is the actual trans-Alpine ride which this blog is all about. Training is going up one more notch – stay tuned and donate to a good cause. The total sponsorship from all sources hit £5000 today which is another cause to celebrate! Here are the various links you can use to sponsor me:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Hopesitalianjob

http://www.justgiving.com/guru-singh2

text GURU67 with £amount (from £1 to £10) to 70070

Sponsorship forms are at Charnwood Pharmacy, Bloomin’ Marvellous, Dilip’s Multi store, The Black swan, The Crown, Ryatt’s Optometrist, Hall Croft Opticians, Janine Soars hairdresser at “Sheardesire” in Hall Croft, Rosebery Medical Centre, Rosebery Pharmacy, Forest Edge and Outwoods Surgeries, Bridge Street Medical Centre and Pedal Power in Loughborough. Don’t forget Livio of Livio’s Italian Restaurant is also collecting a voluntary £1 donation from his diners and promising to match it.

Further information about Hope Against Cancer: http://www.hfcr.org

PS – My piece is in the Leicester Mercury today but unfortunately I can’t find an online link – look out for it on Wednesday’s regular blog.