The British Heart Foundation London to Brighton Bike Ride is an annual 54mile cycle from the Capital to the South Coast to rise funds for one of this Countries largest charities. This year the ride took place on 19th June and I joined 27,000 other cyclists for a day out in the English countryside.
Through work we managed to enter three teams of seven cyclists and arranged minibus transport to London. We were by no means an elite bunch and had a variety of ages and styles of bicycles ranging from serious road bikes with thin slick tyres and carbon fibre frames to heavy mountain bikes. I had a new hybrid bike with a light aluminium mountain bike style frame and medium road tyres so was looking forward to a reasonable ride.
We left Portsmouth at 6am heading for our 9am start time. Making good time we arrived with over half an hour to spare and after unloading the bikes and a few final checks we made our way to Clapham Common.
Before we reached the starting area I had managed to loose most of my work colleagues so decided to just get on with it and meet everyone at the end. There were after all thousands of other cyclists and one red t-shirt looks pretty much like the next.
I waited with the masses for our signal to start and at 8:50 in the morning I was on my way. Cycling out of London was slow due to the high number of cyclists, even though we had staggered start times (starting from 6am).
Some of the roads had been closed to traffic or made one way for the day with cyclists on the left side and cars travelling in the same direction but on the ‘wrong’ side. Throughout the day we had Marshals along the route and many Police who assisted keeping us safe and moving in the right direction.
There were a number of rest stops along the route to refill water bottles and grab a bite to eat. The first was just over 10mile from the start at Woodmansterne Village Hall where I stopped briefly (at 10:25) to see if I could see anybody I knew. No such luck so I rejoined the wave of cyclists travelling south.
Once out of London I started to make better progress and got to the Burstow Scouts refreshment stop which is about halfway (28 miles) at 12:00. After a quick burger I was back on my way.
Another half hour (12:40) and I was at Turners Hill where I found one of my work colleagues. We completed the last 20miles together and it really made a difference to be cycling with somebody I had something in common with (even if it was only that we worked in the same building).
Before we had got much further we were held back by the Marshals due to an incident. Once we were released we made our way down the hill and continued until the Wivelsfield refreshment stop to prepare for Ditchling Beacon.
A nice gentle ride for the next 5 miles brought us to the part of the ride I was least looking forward too. Before you reach Ditching Beacon there is a road that climbs 500 feet which I failed twice before to cycle more than 100 meters up. This time was no different and I walked by bike nearly the entire way to the top. It was well worth the effort though as I could see for miles.
One of the best things about the uphill parts is of course the down hill parts and after a short cycle across the ridge we were on our way down towards Brighton. We passed more Marshals telling us to slow down and to mind the ambulances at the bottom of the hill. I didn’t realise until we reached them that they were actually helping a cyclist that had fallen on the downhill stage.
It was not long and we were on the roads leading into Brighton where we joined normal traffic. Having been cycling for the best part of 50 miles without the worry of heavy traffic to finally join other vehicles on the road was strange to begin with.
Finally we made it through to Marina Drive and approached the finish line. At about 15:40 I had finished and was given my participants medal as I passed through to try and find the rest of my team and the mini bus home.
A really great day to raise funds for a great cause that would not have been possible without the help of the organisers, Marshals, Police, Paramedics and First Aiders along the route, thank you all.