Sub 5hr Century


I am taking part in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100.
Based on people’s experiences how possible is a sub 5hr century, the obvious measure is the infamous 20mph average, any specific strategies people used?

  • Stopping only once.
  • Riding in an organised group.
  • Was fueling and hydration critical.

I’ve done it before. Solo and in a group. On asphalt and on gravel. If you’re in a group that really wants to do it & weather isn’t too atrocious I’d say it is no problem. You are already hitting some of the key things to think about, so sounds like you’re on your way!

One stop? None stop. I don’t like to stop unless traffic conditions demand it. So take enough food and water to make that happen. I’d rather ride with a camelbak than stop. Seems like I’ve never ridden with a group, made a stop, and had it take less than 10 minutes.

If you’ve got a group of 5+ other riders who want to do the ride in under 5 hours & everybody can pace intelligently…well, I don’t want to say it’s a slam dunk…but it’s really within reach.

Hydration & fuel is critical! For sure. Slam a gel 5 minutes before the start. Slam a gel 20 minutes after the start. Definitely maintain 200 cal/hr. More is better. That means have at least 1000 calories on the bike with you. I always take three backup gels and a backup honeystinger waffle. That way if I drop some nutrition on the road I have a backup. Or if one of my wheelbrothers needs some sustenance I can help.


Most people could do Ride London in under 5 hours or certainly get very close. I couldn’t believe some of the times people got round in, but it goes to show how much speed you lose slowing down for junctions and of course on Ride London you don’t need to do that.

You will naturally end up in a group of similar pace I would have thought, but I can’t imagine many people would actually want to work, but who knows, it could be luck of the draw.

You can go over to and mess around with the numbers.
I also found the ride on
Good luck!

  1. Get up early, really early, and drink a pint of water. Get hydrated now and you won’t need so much liquid during the ride. Then have a massive bowl of porridge with sultanas and nut butter. And some toast, if you can stomach it. Not too much sugar. If you have a big breakfast then it won’t matter so much if you forget to neck 60g of carbs per hour.

  2. Eat a banana an hour before your wave time. Don’t worry about gels before you start. Have an extra disposable bottle of water to sip before the start. Use the toilets.

  3. For on the bike, take two bottles of energy mix, then some gels, bars, or shot bloks.

  4. BANG! All your plans WILL go out of the window when your wave starts, and you’ll get caught up in a rush and do the first part through London incredibly fast. Go with it.

  5. Before you know it you’re not far from Richmond Park. Now assess. Is your pace / power / heart rate sustainable? If not, ease off and wait for another group.

  6. But do try to eat regularly.

  7. Stay in the wheels. Contribute if you have to, but mostly save your energy. Try not to brake but anticipate the changes in pace. Stay smooth.

  8. Wee if you have to. Another group will be along soon.

  9. Re-fill your bottle if you have to. I finished in 4:40 but I did the last 40 minutes with no fluid and it was really hard.

  10. Enjoy it!


Martin above makes some great points, the only additional advice I would give is practice your breakfast and start routine (best to limit new things on the day of an event) . Make sure you are doing some of your training rides at the time of the event, 7am start etc. Once you’re wave starts look out for the group to form and hang-on as long as you can, I would go as deep as you dare to stay with the group as your average speed will be much higher and this equals miles covered. I only ever aim to stop once, just to pee and empty gel wrappers and maybe top one bottle up - pending temp etc.

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Eat a highly digestible meal the night before. Big struggle for me is my toilet times, I am very regimented. Eating steak, eggs and a few chips meant no 9am sit down.

Hydrate well day before and bearing above in mind keep full on things like seeds and trail mix.

On the day itself cliff blocks are a godsend if you get on with them but I found after 70 or so miles I wanted something more food like. Had chucked a small protein bar and a cliff bar in my pocket at start and they got me to the end.

Work up to it, 50, 70, 85 miles etc. before if you not already, and ride those at the pace you want for the 100. The only difference on the day is then a little more fuelling.

The ride is very flat apart from 3 or 4 places. I found this brought on back pain I had rarely experienced on any other rides, even longer ones. Make sure you stretch every little while and remember 5 mins off the bike if needed is fine if you are hitting target averages

Go and spend a day over the Surrey hills before the event. Plod up Leith a few times and realise that is the only physically tough part of the ride. I slowed right down up it on the day(s) and kept myself thresholdish. With the bike traffic that is a 10 min climb with a load of rest down other side.

Your start time is not something you can choose and it does make a huge difference. That said try and latch onto groups moving through even if you have a little push to get on. Once on, assuming group is the right pace, it becomes a lot easier.

My top tip is do not drop a water bottle in the first 5 miles. Couldn’t find a replacement and had to stop a few times to refill, when original plan was 1 stop.

You will go a lot faster than expected but enough training, fuelling and pacing and it is doable.

If you can normally do a century at an average UK sportive in under 6 hours, you shouldn’t have too much trouble going sub 5 at Ride London. Although there’s obviously a good chunk of climbing, a surprisingly large amount of the route is fast and flattish on good roads. Being a closed road event makes it so much quicker as well - you’ll be shocked how easily and quickly the first third races by, and how short the last third (essentially all run in back to the finish) feels.
I would still stop at feed stops, but just make sure you are quick there. Small bite to eat, take some food to eat when you are back on the bike, refill bottles, and out.
The best advice i can give is to actually take it a little easy during the first third. You’ll have loads of people racing off going really hard, and the depressing reality is that the event attracts a lot of people who simple can’t ride well in big groups - this is not a good combination and has meant that there have been nasty crashes in the first third every single year. Be smooth and be a bit paranoid of those around you as the risk of being taken out by someone else’s bad riding is a little higher than at many events. You can then really start to turn things up once the climbing starts and for the run in