London to Brighton 2013
June 16th, Fathers day, instead of getting breakfast in bed like most fathers, I was driving to Brighton at 2:30am to catch a coach up to the 7am start line for the 54mile London to Brighton bike ride to raise much needed money for the British Heart Foundation.
I park the car near the seafront and cycle to the coach, its only a couple of miles and I get puncture number 1, not an issue as I have my repair kit and load the bike onto the truck and sit on the 4:30am coach. We get to Clapham Common at 6:30am, ready for the 7am start and I look down, ANOTHER puncture….not a problem, I have prepared and use my other set of repair kit and I am ready to go….
The start line is buzzing, a mixture of proper racers and families all mixed up together, some of the bikes I am standing next to are worth more than most peoples cars….And we’re off, a frantic struggle for space as 2000 people all try to fight for space. It’s 5miles in and I am finally getting clear of the pack, I feel the bike is a little loose and I look down…ANOTHER PUNCTURE, I have used all my repair stuff and my only option is to get to a repair stop – 5miles back or 5miles forward to the nearest repair place, so I put the bike on my shoulders and start walking…..devastated!
An hour and a quarter later I get to the bike stop and have a new inner tube and service by a lovely guy called Devlin, who looks strangely familiar (I later find out he has been on tour with Bradley Wiggins), and I am back cycling again….
Once I am going again, I quickly found my pace and passing several roadies on their fancy carbon bikes as the huge training I’ve done over the last few months pays off, several times I am drafted going up the bigger hills which gives me the incentive to go faster and prove my mettle.
At the bottom of Turners Hill there is a huge accident, two bikes have collided and the road is blocked for 30mins, once cleared things are very slow which works in my favour as my legs recover from my quick early pace which is ideal as 15miles further on and it’s the notorious Ditchling Beacon, a mile long ascent which has the same gradient as the leg breaking Mont Ventoux. Nothing can describe Ditching Beacon, you start cycling up, what looks like a normal hill, it turns and all of a sudden the gradient changes, you grit your teeth and dig in for half a mile and then it turns again and the gradient becomes a staggering 20%, causing most of the hardest roadies to get off and walk, though if you keep on and endure the pain, the reward is immense, you make a final turn and the whole of Sussex opens up beneath you and you can see for miles around as you cycle along the top of the world with collapsed cyclists littering the roads around you.
Coming down the other side of Ditchling Beacon is a thrill, a huge downhill where I achieved a speed of 40mph and I would have gone faster had it not been for rain, you come to the bottom of the descent and you can see the finish line in the distance, a couple of miles to go. Nothing can prepare you for the support you get as you cycle through Brighton to the finish, hundreds of people line the roads cheering you on, giving you high-fives and it is really humbling, I cross the finish line and my job is done….Aching and sore I get my medal and load my bike into the car, happy knowing that I raised £250 for the British Heart Foundation.
For those wanting to know the statistics, I walked 5miles of the 54miles, averaged 12mph, ascended over 3000ft and burnt over 3000kcal, you can see the GPS of the course here: http://app.strava.com/activities/60696810
You can also still donate here: http://www.justgiving.com/Dragons8mycat