Today's blog episode takes us back to last Summer, more precisely to the first weekend of August 2019. It is a notable time as - after over 15 years (!) of absence - I finally found my way back to participating in a cycling festival, but not limiting this participation to just an average/no-name one, therefore I chose a really big and famous one, namely the Prudential Ride London-Surrey challenge. The festival is the annual legacy from the London 2012 Olympic Games which was first held in 2013. The format consists of a series of cycling events on closed roads around London and Surrey from which I was involved in the one called '100'. As the name indicates, the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 is one hundred miles (about 160 km) long and normally includes over 25,000 amateur cyclists. The route starts in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, then it goes through the capital and onto Surrey's country roads and the Surrey Hills before finishing on The Mall in central London. Many of the riders sponsor charities as it provides a secure way of participation. I also rode for a charity, namely British Lung Foundation and, in the end, I managed to scoop up a decent £250 for them from family and friends. (I chose to be a part of Team Breathe, because I wanted to raise awareness that breathing conditions and lung-related diseases are very common and that many people suffer in silence everyday. During the last 15 years, I learned what pneumothorax is on my own skin, twice (2005 and 2014), so it was important for me to challenge myself and support this cause.)
This blog should have been posted around last August, but like many other things in my life, this one got side-tracked by us moving to China only a few weeks after the cycling event. Then when I wanted to make the post during last Autumn or even during this year's lockdowns, I realised that all of my photos had been left on my desktop computer which is having its well-deserved resting time in the UK. I thought that I had uploaded these photos to 'the cloud' before leaving the Isles, but this obviously never happened. Since not so long ago, it was the anniversary of the 'Ride', I thought I would try to pull together everything that I could find about this event on my social media pages. This blog today, therefore, is based on these photos and a video.
RideLondon for me was a very emotional event. After having come over so many past challenges, finding my way back to cycling, and then preparing eight months for this 'big ride', I received so much emotional outbursts mostly just because of being at the event. Cycling in closed roads across London, chatting with other riders, seeing accidents and individual challenges, conquering Box Hill, having all the random people along the roads - and of course British Lung Foundation - cheering for you, every moment of the ride made me feel fantastic! A massive bonus was that the weather was great too, so the ride and its atmosphere were just simply incredible! Such a great event, such a great organisation! I am so thankful that I could have been part of it! It reminded me of why I love cycling and why I love being outdoors so much.
But, of course, I did not travel to London for one day only nor just to ride 100 miles. In fact, I found a cheap Airbnb in Waltham Forest, literally next to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and spent an overall of four days in London. This gave me an opportunity to cycle in the capital city of the United Kingdom for the first time in life. It was awesome! The traffic is certainly a challenge there, but it is easy to get used to it and then to get by. I did not waste my time at all, so the day before the 100-mile event, I made a decision to specify my sign hunting wishes within the region. This is why, the project for me was to go to Enfield, find its sign, explore the town centre a bit, and find the house where the so-called 'Enfield poltergeist', the so-called supernatural activities happened in the late 1970s that eventually formed the story basis to the film known as The Conjuring 2 (one of my favourite films by the way). I am happy to say that I found the sign, I found the house and I also explored the town centre a little bit, which in the end was much nicer than I originally anticipated. Also, I have learned that the world's first ever cash machine was installed in Enfield in the local Barclays branch in 1967. Small world!
During the 'Ride', there were sections where the entire mass of cyclists had to stop and walk. I used these opportunities to do cheeky sign-hunting, though I have decided to include only one photo in this post (Leatherhead). I also worked out that London, or more precisely the Greater London area, does not seem to have a boundary sign. I would have come across it, but let me know if I am wrong and give me the location where it is if you know! The City of London, which is a much smaller administrative area in the central part of London, however, has some old stone dragons that marks its boundary; so the day after the ride, Katie and I went back to take photos of these signs. Yes, on Sunday, after the ride, Katie also arrived to London, because we had visa appointment at the Chinese embassy office for the day after.
As you can see, these days were not only about the 'Ride', but of course everything was centred around it. Now, let me share some photos with you! First of all, you will see some shots of Enfield. Secondly, there is a large selection of the ride's highlighted moments professionally captured by Sportgraf. And then there are the photos of the City of London stone dragons. Since I recorded these days with the GoPro and made a video of them, I also include this at the end of the post. Enjoy!
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Photos by Laszlo Bokor
Prudential Ride 100 - London-Surrey (04.08.2019)
Photos by Sportgraf, Laszlo Bokor, and British Lung Foundation
The City of London boundary sign (05.08.2019)
Photos by Laszlo Bokor
Highlight video of the Enfield sign hunt and the RideLondon 100 event
Footage and editing by Laszlo Bokor
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© Photos of Enfield, the City of London, and some photos during the RideLondon event were taken by Laszlo Bokor (2019). The RideLondon highlight photos were professionally taken by Sportgraf (2019). One photo during the ride was taken by British Lung Foundation (2019). The video footage was filmed by Laszlo Bokor (2019). The Sign Hunters/Sportgraf/British Lung Foundation, all rights reserved.