Merton residents will line the streets of Wimbledon and Raynes Park this summer to get a glimpse of the cyclists taking part in the Prudential RideLondon cycle event as it races through the borough on Sunday 4 August.
The peloton will pass through Merton on the return leg from the Surrey Hills, after cyclists have already travelled from the Olympic stadium, out to Surrey before heading back to the finish line at the Mall via Raynes Park and the last incline of the race, up Wimbledon Hill towards Wimbledon common. Merton Council’s Eugene McDonald, an Occupational Therapist, is representing the Mayor of Merton’s charities at the cycling festival. We caught up with Eugene about the RideLondon festival and how he is preparing to take part.
Why are you taking part in the RideLondon festival?
The opportunity arose to put myself forward as the Mayor’s sponsored cyclist and I was lucky enough to be chosen. On a personal level, taking part has provided me with a goal to strive for – 100 miles in nine hours is going to be a challenge and the training for this will improve my own health.
My place in the ride is sponsored in aid of the Mayor of Merton, Councillor Krystal Miller’s two charities, Home Start Merton and the Polka Theatre. I hope to raise as much money as possible for these charities because of the essential support they provide to our residents and young people in the borough. It is an honour to be riding for these worthy causes.
Have you ever done a cycle like this before?
I’ve not completed a cycle of this distance over one day but I cycled from Paris to London over three days a couple of years ago in aid of the South West Thames Renal Fund. I’ve also cycled other long distance rides including London to Brighton, London to Oxford and London to Portsmouth.
What are you doing to prepare for the festival?
I am currently cycling to and from work, which is a 10 mile trip, and I also cycle to all my work-related visits as a community Occupational Therapist. I have to acknowledge and thank my clients and colleagues in the Occupational Therapy service who have put up with me walking around in my cycle gear!
I will also be completing at least one long trip each weekend leading up to the event of between 30 and 70 miles. It’s difficult to balance the needs of my young family with trying to train and prepare for the RideLondon festival, but I know it will be worthwhile.
What time are you hoping to do it in?
I hope to complete the ride in nine hours but I say this with a hint of caution because if it is a really hot day then that may limit my speed considerably. I’m not wishing for summer to end but I am hoping for 20-22 degrees on the day of the race.
What tips would you give people attending the race?
Make sure you plan where you’d like to watch the cycle event from. If there’s a crowd there when you arrive just move along the route, there should be plenty of room for you to get a good view. If it’s hot on the day remember to follow Merton Council’s heatwave guidance so you can fully enjoy the event.
You should also think about your parking and travelling arrangements on the day as some roads may be closed around the local area. There be will parking available in Wimbledon Town Centre in George Street car park but not along the route itself. All vehicles are required to move off the route just for the day. You can check Merton Council’s RideLondon webpage to find information about road closures and parking restrictions in the area. If you have any questions, call TfL customer services on 0343 222 1234 or you can call the Prudential RideLondon helpdesk on 020 7902 0212.
Most importantly, come in good voice and cheer everyone on, especially me!
If you would like to support Eugene and donate to the Mayor of Merton’s charities, please visit Eugene’s Just Giving webpage.