Guest blog by Sean Allan

(In memory of absent friends Ali and Mike)

So, the deed is done. 

We have ridden London and you beautiful people have lifted us to a phenomenally incredible and humbling amount of money raised for Support in Mind Scotland. At the time of writing well over £2300 (not including Gift Aid).

We've all done a few of charity rides or sportives in the past, nothing on this scale however. This was MASSIVE. Over 100,000 took part in the Prudential RideLondon weekend of family rides, 19, 46 & 100-mile charity rides and World Class elite women and men's races offering cycling's highest prize money for a single day's racing. 

Now, I can't really describe this day by not saying how incredibly disorganised the organisation of all of this was at the start!

To be fair, I contributed to this by lazily using an "autofill" during our initial registration. This meant my emails were going to a long dead account. That was a nightmare to correct (I had to speak to three different companies involved in the Ride London event) and I missed some important information e. g. I needed photo ID to collect my rider pack. 

Thankfully some Allans are smarter than the average bear and my daughter Erin photocopied my passport back in Edinburgh, emailed it to Gillian in London who got the concierge at our rented accommodation to print it out for me. Even then, I needed my original document but I could send a proxy along with a copy and a letter of authorisation from me! Thanks Mark Lally for collecting my rider pack!

Additionally, David (above) was registered in a different event from Mark and I. Dave did the 100-mile event all on his own, Mark and I did the 46-mile run together. David had to get to his starting area in the Lea Valley Olympic Park two hours before us. Ideally we'd have started the day together, but TWO HOURS!? 

It transpired that poor Dave encountered some logistical issues en route. An early morning mini riot (I think that's how he described it) closed North Greenwich tube station and he had to take the Emirates Air Line, a cable car 200 ft above the river Thames. Which is fine if you don't have a mortal fear of heights. His fear wasn't exactly conquered, but he made it. Chapeau Dave. Arguably an achievement to surpass any that would come later in the day.

An hour or so later, Mark and I took a leisurely cable car trip to The Royal Docks, near The Excel Centre, for a 20-minute cycle to our starting area. Pre-arrival in London, ALL our communication indicated we'd be starting in the BLACK N area. Our rider packs we collected at the event Cycle Show in the Excel indicated we were now in the WHITE N starting pen.

Approaching the Olympic Park there were signs directing riders to various areas of the vast park depending on their start pen. The only trouble was there was no white area! No panic, we defaulted to our original black area. We found that, but also found it didn't have an N pen! 

With a nice 15 mile warm up in our legs, we eventually set off from the start line to the sound of The Proclaimers blasting out 500 miles

Staff were very helpful and polite. At the black area they explained we were now white, which of course we knew, we just didn't see any signs for a white area. We were directed to the Olympic Velodrome on the other side of the Lea Valley park. We made it with 15 minutes to spare only to find the white waves were now merged with an unknown, to that steward, wave! Despite our registration and start areas keeping changing - to one miles apart, we eventually get to a start point which at least turned out tae be the GREEN start. With a nice 15 mile warm up in our legs, we eventually set off from the start line to the sound of The Proclaimers blasting out 500 miles.

The start had finally ended well!

The ride itself was great, fantastic route past every icon London has. Initially we headed from the Lea Valley through Canary Wharf before heading towards the city past the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, we passed our own support team of my wife Gillian, and Mark's wife and son, Linda and Sam. Resplendent in their Support In Mind Scotland T-shirts and waving a big saltire, they roared us on towards The Big Smoke. 

Through the old financial district, we headed towards the London Eye, the Palace of Westminster and a bubble-wrapped Big Ben. Trafalgar Square saw the first big and noisy crowds of the day. Considering the main event of the World Class elite race was still many hours away, the crowds were phenomenal. You get a real buzz and a lift that makes it feel like you are running (well cycling) on someone else's energy. 

The Ritz, Green Park and Kensington were a blur. Mark and I were now in a wee zone, we were on the look out for The Hammersmith Apollo, for music lovers a venue as iconic as anything London has to offer. This is where almost exactly five years before we'd travelled to see Kate Bush. This could be an emotional ride by… 

It wasn't. We literally flew by the venues roof as the route took us on The Hammersmith Flyover! Only mildly disappointed our focus returned from Kate Bush to the event in hand.

We rode towards the Surrey countryside through Richmond, Twickenham and Kingston. Richmond Park gave us our first challenge of the day. A long drag of a climb that saw many riders dismount and most slow down. It's a beautiful part of the world though, incredibly close to the sprawl and bustle of the city. I admit that at this point the only thing going through my head was the image of a dog racing after a herd of deer frantically being chased by its owner yelling "FENTON!" repeatedly. The things that go through your mind whilst on your bike!

Richmond Park saw Mark and I head back to the city. This is where we overtook Dave who had left Lea Valley 90 minutes ahead of us, but whose route would take him deeper into the Surrey countryside to climb Box Hill and Leith Hill.

Green start wave, The Proclaimers, Green Park, Leith Hill. Our sponsorship from the Hibernian Fitsodjers selling "Hibs v Stigma" badges was more than appropriate. It was fate.

Returning to Kingston-upon-Thames the crowds were truly massive. Suburbs were being eaten up. Mark and I felt good as our route merged with that of the 100 mile event again and our pace picked up with some impressively fresh looking folk with 50 miles more than us in their legs!

We stopped to refill our water bottles with about 10 miles to go. We were shocked to check the time and see it was 11:30. We'd given our support team an ETA on The Mall of 13:00. Clearly we were going to smash that, but more importantly, they'd be very disappointed to have missed us. We stopped again, and messaged them all. Our new ETA was noon!

“Before we could catch a breath we were bearing down on Parliament and Horseguards Parade, we'd done it!

Crossing Putney Bridge we turned into a headwind for the first time, or at least noticed a headwind for the first time! Hitting the Chelsea Embankment we followed the Thames past another musical icon at Battersea. By now the route was entirely lined with crowds of eager spectators cheering us 'home' 

Before we could catch a breath we were bearing down on Parliament and Horseguards Parade, we'd done it! We swept onto The Mall and roared over the finish line tae be greeted by our saltire waving support team just 200 metres over the line. Stopping was impossible in the peloton we'd found ourselves in, so it was on to outside Buckingham Palace to be presented with our medals.

In among the throng of queuing cyclists a young female cyclist came between Mark and I. She'd seen us out on the course and noticed the Hibs v Stigma badges. "What does Hibs on your jerseys signify?" she asked in a soft southern English accent. Mark explained it was short for Hibernian FC and a wee bit about the cause. "Brilliant!" she replied, "I'd hoped it was. I went to uni in Edinburgh and I'm a Hibby!"

Hibees here, Hibees there...

As fate or luck would have it, this encounter and our medal presentation was the far side of Green Park where, just inside the Canada Gate there was an Amstel Bar. NOW we were 'home'.

Soon we were joined by Sam, Linda and Gillian. We were also met by Mark's Aunty Sue and her pal. They hadn't met for 25 years! A wee picnic was had before we scurried back to The Mall to greet David finishing his marathon century effort. Dave still hasn't let on what was his favourite moment on The Mall, seeing the finish line, us, his medal or Mr Ice Cold Amstel. 

“Thanks to all of those who contributed to our fundraising for this wonderful cause that means a lot to the three of us

Before we headed back to Greenwich for some well earned sustenance, we were met at The Canada Gate by friends from Canada! Peter and Joy were on a flying family visit from Calgary and took time out to come support us. 

A (licensed) river bus trip to North Greenwich allowed us to wash and scrub up before enjoying a wonderful Sunday Roast demolished by all in a cracking thoroughly friendly wee pub in Charlton. We even got a free dessert for our day's efforts. A timely reminder that despite all the world renowned iconic sights London has to offer the world, what really makes it a beautiful city to visit are its people. 

Thanks to everyone at Support in Mind Scotland, Colin especially, who gave us this opportunity to make memories we'll never forget. 

Finally and most importantly. The most sincerest of thanks to all of those who contributed to our fundraising (again) for this wonderful cause that means a lot to the three of us.