Start times ranged from around 6am through to near 8am and early doors, it didn't look too bad. No wind, warm, just splashes of drizzle. Buoyed, folk set off... for what, in the end, turned out to be one of those 'I survived it' days. And RCC riders did more than survive, many recorded times that were little short of incredible in the conditions that developed en route.
There comes a point when it is impossible to get any wetter. Everyone who rode this year will have experienced that point when the shoes are full of water and each pedal stroke comes with an added slosh. Not that you can hear the slosh because the pelting rain, hail and thunder take away the finer sensations.
RCC's fastest, which in this case was easily taken by an astounding ride from Calvin, averaging 24.2mph for a 3h34m end time.
Next up, racers James B, Peter F and Norman B with sub-4 hour times... followed by a steady stream of impressive results in the 4s and 5s. Cara was the first RCC woman home just five minutes over the 4 hour mark and averaging over 21mph! Cat took a tumble but carried on like a pro.
Unfortunately, we all saw accidents along the way - some that looked serious - with manholes and standing water proving very hazardous.
The team riders all worked hard on the day but not all managed to keep it together in such atrocious conditions. At times, the force of nature meant it had to be every man and woman for themselves... but well done to those who did... Mssrs Gibson, Jordan, Neal and Hill in particular pulled off impressive times given that Phil punctured. The Deefholts/Brookes team rolled in just a few seconds apart and like everyone, will have tea-stop conversation fodder for generations to come.
Observations on the day.
The start was once again particularly well managed without folk having to wade onto the grass.
The first London section was sensational with adrenalin and closed roads yielding some crazy averages through to Richmond Park.
For those of us who hit Newlands Corner to a combination of hail, flood, thunder, lightning and headwinds that's not one you could forget in a hurry if you tried. There was literally a river running down both sides.
The drag up to West Horsely looks like the time when those who faded (ahem, yours truly mainly) really started to feel it.
The support on the streets despite the conditions - especially in Kingston and Wimbledon (Thanks to Rick especially) - was truly heart warming and steeled the resolve.
Most of us rode through three or four floods. Some over the chain rings.
There is nothing like cycling at speed along the Thames and swooshing past the nation's greatest iconic buildings with the freedom to ignore traffic lights and stop signs.
The Mall was emotional and despite the long walk to bag pick up, a sight that pays testament to how far cycling has come.
- To everyone who put their Rule 9's where their hearts were, well done. To those, who still managed to record some amazing times, wait until next year when it's dry and warm with no headwind.
- The Ballot for next year opens very soon and the bookings for Bethnal Green Travelodge start around the first week of September.
- Riders who took part, please feel free to add your memories below in comments. The more, the merrier!