A junior suite in The Savoy

In May I turned 40. No biggie. I dealt with and moved on, but this happy occasion gave me the excuse to spend a night in The Savoy with my girlfriend! The Savoy being a luxurious London hotel located along The Strand. We were fortunate to be offered a junior suite upgrade and this is what it was like.
The Savoy Rolls-Royce with personalised number plate

The Savoy Rolls-Royce with personalised number plate

On arrival we walked into the taxi/limo dropoff “Savoy Court” which is the entrance set back way off the street! The turning circle of thich is 25′ – to this day this is the legally required turning circle of all London taxis apparently. On entering through the revolving door we were met by staff who guided us through to a greeting area. This was the first time I’d ever been sat down in a comfortable chair at a vintage desk while two staff welcomed us and checked us in. I guess it’s hardly The Travelodge but something different all the same. Our room wasn’t quite ready as we’d arrived early, but nothing a complementary cocktail in The American Bar wouldn’t fix. Not wanting to take advantage we happily “settled” for a couple of £18 cocktails (the cheapest on the menu) but both delicious and washed down with complementary snacks which kept being refilled every  10 minutes. I almost treated it as lunch, especially as the stuffed olives were the tastiest I’ve ever eaten! 🙂 The waiter explained the history of the drinks we were having but sadly I can’t remember what my one was called, but the one on the right was a ‘Punk Rock’ consisting of Bacardi Superior rum. Maybe I’ll have to go back to work out what I had!
American Bar cocktails

American Bar cocktails

Shortly afterwards we headed to our room to find our luggage carefully laid out in the room and did the standard rush around the room “discovery dash”. In front of us was the room’s foyer/dressing area, to the left the bedroom and to the right the opulent, checkered floored bathroom, with shower and separate claw footed bathtub. What was particularly special, whether it’s done for every guest or not, was the welcome letter from the manager, chocolate cake and nibbles. Nice touches that I’ve never experienced anywhere else either.
Our Savoy welcome card

Our Savoy welcome card

The Savoy junior suite welcome cake and nibbles

The Savoy junior suite welcome cake and nibbles

Savoy junior suite bedroom

Savoy junior suite bedroom

We wanted to make the most of The Savoy itself, and as London is where we both work, there was no need to go off sightseeing, so we lounged around in the hotel room pretty much all afternoon playing tunes out of the Ruark DAB radio, before a pleasant pre-theatre meal downstairs in Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill. If we’d realised that the Savoy had an adjoining theatre (the Savoy theatre) and that Sheridan Smith was in the play ‘Funny Girl’ we’d have gone there instead rather than the arduous 100m walk to the West End 😉

Kasper's seafood bar and grill pre theatre

Kasper’s seafood bar and grill pre theatre

The famous Savoy Court

The famous Savoy Court

On returning to the hotel post-play we found the bedside lights had been dimmed, slippers laid out by the bed and a bottle of water prepared on the bedside table, but before that it was time to crack open the champagne and take a dip in the deep white clawfoot bathtub … but I’m not showing any pictures of that part of our stay apart from the Instagram photo below.
So The Savoy lived up to, and surpassed all expectations providing many nice personalised touches. I felt very fortuante to be able to stay there for the night as a guest and not just as a curious member of the public popping in for a quick nose around the foyer or ‘Afternoon Tea’ … but that looked lovely too, so I’m sure we’ll go back sometime soon all being well.
The Savoy junior suite bathroom

The Savoy junior suite bathroom

The Savoy's Thames foyer afternoon tea room

The Savoy’s Thames Foyer afternoon tea room

Cycling the RideLondon 100

Back in 2013 I took part in the inaugural ‘RideLondon 100’ and absolutely loved it! But what’s it like if you’re not a regular Lycra-clad weekend warrior? Well as two mountain bikers (back in our “yoof”) but with the odd ‘London to Brighton’ bike ride under our belts it was manageable but still a bl**dy long way 🙂

Being "photobombed" on the finish line

Being “photobombed” on the finish line

 It was my friend Dan who first suggested entering and after we successfully got in we decided to ride for the charity ‘Shelter’. Dan insisted on using his heavy (but lovingly modified) 1980s Raleigh road bike and I went with my mid 90’s Kona hardtail mountain bike … with the skinniest slicks I could get on the rims (1.3″ continentals) … and  we both just about got away with it. I remember seeing one guy on a Brompton just 2 miles in as he looked over at me and said “I think I’ve made the wrong choice!”

As far as training went, with one of us being based near Cardiff and the other in Hertfordshire, we never trained together and both did our own thing. For me that was hopping off the train a stop early after work and cycling the 7 miles home on my Brompton. It was hardly the training of champions but was psychologically sufficient for the big day ahead.

 We stayed in a hotel near the start at the Olympic stadium as that meant we could drive down the night before, cycle a short ride to the Expo on the Saturday to pick up our numbers, and not have the “faff” of getting up early and into London on the train for our early start times.

 So what was it like?

 We were given different start times so Dan was ahead of me by about 20 minutes but we’d organised a rendezvous point 3-4 miles down the road … and that worked well apart from almost forgotting to look out for him when I sailed past while talking to someone else.

Baggage handed in and now awaiting my start slot

Baggage handed in and now awaiting my start slot

 There’s actually an initial rolling 2 miles before the 100 miles starts but that’s a nice loosener to get up and out of the start area. Very soon I realised there were some delicious bikes around … and this was definetly the case of “all the gear BUT all the idea too” which made me feel somewhat of an amateur on my mountain bike. However at the other extreme, albeit in a smaller minority, there were people on cheap, heavy old mountain bikes with fat tyres who looked wholly unprepared for what lay ahead.

We actually cycled 102 miles what with they're being a "rolling start"

We actually cycled 102 miles what with they’re being a “rolling start”

 After a few miles in it became quite evident that the effort put into the event was quite remarkable with “every” crossing, junction, obstacle having been carefully cordoned off so the route was completely closed off. No mean feat I’m sure.

Cycling down The Mall in just under 8 hours waving to the crowd felt fantastic. I just wish I could have done a stylish “Peter Sagan” wheelie right down the middle of the road! 🙂

 Top 12 Tips?

  1. Do all/some of the necessary training.
  2. Make sure your saddle stuffer has all the necessary tools for any mechanicals.
  3. Add a few energy bars/gels in there too.
  4. “Safely” slipstream your friends/others while riding along. The best scenario was when we’d find two advanced riders in front riding along chatting, side-by-side, and we’d then take a wheel each so we could have a chat too. With the consent of those in front of course who acknowledged to us that they didn’t mind us tailgating them. Occasionally you’d hear the “whop, whop, whop” noise of the rear disc wheels of a train of team enthusiasts flying past. Attempts to latch on to the last man proved futile, even just for a laugh, as was their sheer speed, and the types of bikes that Dan and I were on.
  5. Stock up on the pasta/carbs a few nights before just as you would if you were taking part in a marathon.
  6. Look out for the cameras on Box Hill and along The Mall finish line.
  7. Check out the tribal paintwork on Box Hill that was painted for the 2012 Olympics
  8. Don’t be put off by Leith Hill or Box Hill. From what I can remember I found ‘Ditchling Beacon’ on the London to Brighton bike ride far worse.
  9. Get yourself a souvenir t-shirt from one of the parks at the finish.
  10. Hang around in the late afternoon to watch all the pro riders come through in the RideLondon Surrey Classic bike race.
  11. Turn on Strava to record your journey and revel in the glory afterwards. Possibly go on 2G to save as much battery as you can though.
  12. Oil that chain and pump up your tyres as much as you can (according to what’s written in PSI on the sidewalls)
Storming up Box Hill over the London 2012 tribal road markings

Storming up Box Hill over the London 2012 tribal road markings

 What did I take?  

  1.  iPhone (I’ve since bought a ‘Quad Lock’ case and attachment for my iPhone which sits nicely on the stem).
  2. Cards/notes in a slim Oyster card holder (rather than taking my whole wallet).
  3. iPhone battery charger but I didn’t actually need it as the phone just about lasted the distance.
  4. Germoline, Vaseline, Imodium and a small canister of suncream for protection and any “rubbage”
  5. Thin yellow windproof jacket for the stops.
  6. Cycling shorts and top (with stuff stuffed in the rear pockets).
  7. Helmet and gloves.
  8. Clipless shoes and cycling socks.
  9. Saddle stuffer containing ‘Kool tool’, inner tube, puncture repair stickers, tyre levers, 5 chewy bars, dextrose tablets.
  10. 2x water bottles.
  11. My bike/helmet number + safety pins.
  12. Sunglasses.

… and on the evening before the ride I took off the Crud Catcher mudguard, gave the bike a dusting down and tucked away any flapping cables etc. to reduce any drag. The “power of incremental gains” as Olympic team coach Dave Brailsford likes to say. NB. I’d already replaced the front Rock Shox with rigid forks to lighten the load and improve performance.

Our first post-finish photo along The Mall

Our first post-finish photo along The Mall

 Would I do it again?

Probably … but on a road bike … but it was great to do it the first time, and this year my girlfriend and 4 other friends are taking part! I wish them all the best and hope to see them safely at the finish in good time where I’ll be helping out throughout the day as a “veloteer”.

Outside Buckingham Palace savouring the moment

Outside Buckingham Palace savouring the moment