I’ve done the Iconic London to Brighton Bike Ride

Made it to the start line!
A long slow train ride to Victoria, it was the first time in a while I had two hours with nothing but my thoughts. The enormity of what I was doing had sunk in and, I doubted, was I going to make it.   

I cycled the short ride along the Cromwell Road to Earls Court, navigating the busses and cabs around the Brompton Orbital, Thinking “I’m a serious Cyclist now”. 

Overnight night, Doris my Bike was chained up to the railings in the rain. The first time she has been left in the cold all night, and I worried a bit about her safety.   Just one of the eleven bikes at Earls Court Youth Hostel, others had had the same idea, to stay overnight just a few miles from the start line.   Some very fit boys, twenty years my junior were  bragging that they were doing ‘Brighton and Back, in one day”, cringed at the thought.  

Kept telling myself it’s not a race. I had all day to get to Brighton and I can enjoy riding  at my own pace.  No pressure others will be slower than me, or at least I hoped so.  There’s nothing wrong with walking up any of the hills or stopping as many times as I need.   It’s a day out and should be a pleasurable experience!  

5:30 AM.  Checked out the window on the weather, Doris was safe, and the boys in shorts and helmets were already unlocking their bikes and loading water bottles, they were on a six o’clock start time. Doris was looking a bit lonely, and I had time for a shower and to get packed.  Rain had stopped, it was a little overcast and perfect cycling conditions,  waterproof jacket in my bag, pulled on my shorts and jersey, filled the water bottle and filled my pockets with snacks.  I was early, I was excited as I set off over Battersea Bridge, to find Clapham common and the start line.  Already crowds were gathering, it was chilly, so kept out of the wind at the mobile coffee van, avoided the bacon rolls thinking it would slow me down, and anyway my pockets were stuffed with snacks for the ride. Peanut flapjacks, jelly babies in every pocket.

We were off, through the streets out of London, and before I knew it were were passing the first official stop, In good flow, so decided to carry on, just slowing to take a few sips from the water bottle.  Actually I carried on to Fanny’s Farm, about 20 miles in before I stopped, got off the saddle and waited in turn for the smelly portaloo.  The BBQ sausages smelt better, but I didn’t want to wait in the line again, so ate some nuts from my pocket and carried on.

There were a few hold ups on the narrow lanes and much moaning from the crowd, that was until the ambulance tried to get through.  Everyone, without exception moved to the side, bikes stacked and tangled in the hedge, and cyclists pushed up against each other to make way, no instruction was needed, we just all worked together.   It puts a bit of a dampener on things when you see accidents, and sadly there were a few. 

The event management was second to none with first aid points, water refills, and bike mechanics at hand, even food and feeding stations every five miles or so.  A few idiots were weaving about and overtaking on the left, but it was no worse than the London traffic you did need your spatial awareness due to the crowds.   I pushed on and started for the first time to really enjoy the ride through the sussex villages.  Ardingly, well I thought that was close to Brighton, but still had twenty odd miles to go, and was starting to feel it.  I stopped to eat jelly babies from my pockets, at Turners Hill, and then felt sick, think I had too many!

Looking up and seeing that hill, (in the picture) by now, and thinking, What on earth, made me sign up to do this? I have to get over that!  Then pacifying myself with what thoughts of, what goes up has to go down.   The Ditchling Beacon, the end was near,  from the top it’s only 7 miles into Brighton, the thought of the downhill cruise, kept me slogging on up hill.

As we approached Ditchling village, it started to rain. Fifty or so miles done, the light rain was refreshing at first, wet through from the outside in, and inside out,  wet hair under helmet, it wasn’t long before feeling tired and cold.  I started the steepest bit in the lowest gear and before long had to join, the second or third lane of slow walkers, getting road spray from the few that were still on the bikes, I was grimy, and so was Doris.  Even walking was tough going,  but was still able to hold a conversation, which was more than some could do as they panted up the hill, my training had paid off.  With a push Doris and I made it to the top, and even managed to overtake some of the slower walkers.  The hot coffee provided by the scouts was a welcome stop, and by that time, I couldn’t care that it was instant. 🙂

It seemed like every set of traffic lights on the Brighton approach road, from the University onwards, was against me.  At one I stripped out out the waterproofs,  passed the last of the jelly babies to the kids waving me on, much to amusement of the passengers in the stationary car alongside who wanted some too.

There is something magical about your first long bike ride, and passing the Brighton Pavilion was a very special point for me,  I realised then I had done it, before cruising comfortably into the waiting crowds, to the finishing line to collect my first bit of sporting bling.

Thank You to all my supporters, 
and those of you out on the streets cheering us on.

It’s Iconic 
The London to Brighton Bike Ride

for those who haven’t its not too late to 


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