Marathon man Brasher inspires London to get riding

Wed Aug 6, 2014 11:16am EDT
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By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - As race director of the London Marathon Hugh Brasher was not exactly short of things to do with his time but when the invitations went out for bidders to organize and run a mass cycling event on a similar scale he jumped at the chance.

His organization duly got the job and last year delivered the inaugural Prudential Ride London weekend, highlighted by a 100-mile close-road sportive for amateur riders largely following the route of the 2012 Olympic road race, which inspired the whole idea.

This weekend sees the second edition, with the numbers up from 16,000 to 24,000 for the sportive and an estimated 50,000 more taking part in Saturday's "freecycle" where several miles of roads in central London will be car-free for the day.

Just like the London marathon, where around 34,000 places are many times over-subscribed, the Surrey 100 has immediately grabbed the imagination of the country's cyclists with 47,000 applications within the first hour this year and 80,000 within a month.

"I think the whole thing last year just amazed people," Brasher told Reuters in a interview.

"We had these waves of 250-500 departing Olympic Park on time every two minutes and cycling on close roads past all those London icons and out into the beautiful Surrey countryside with thousands of spectators cheering them on.

"Then that finish, down the Embankment, Admiralty Arch and on to Mall, it really is stunning."

The thought of closing many of London's streets and bridges to traffic for an entire weekend would have been as unlikely as a British Tour de France champion just a few years ago.   Continued...

Cyclists of all ages ride past the Houses of Parliament during the Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle ride in central London in this file photograph dated August 3, 2013.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/files