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London to Brighton 2009

Call that a bike ride….?
At one point I thought we were actually going to be walking all the way to Brighton.

Experienced L2B’ers had warned me to start the event early but I’m too lazy to get up for a 6am start. I may have had a leisurely 8:30am kick off but I very quickly regretted it. We just never seemed to get going. We crawled through Tooting and Mitcham and out towards the M25 and 3 hours and 20 mins later the garmin beeped to tell me we had just about escaped London.

3648349574 d045de574e m London to Brighton 2009

3 hours and 20 minutes with a bike and we’d only travelled 19 miles and what’s more we were walking already.

The very first sign of an incline and the whole pedal pumping mass ground to a complete standstill. There was no room to weave in and out so everyone one from lycra clad mountain goats to mums on old shoppers had to dismount and walk.

Given the rather lame nature of the incline it was disheartening to say the least. I’m the worlds slowest runner but yesterday I barely managed to cycle above my half marathon pace.

I think there were something like 4 or 5 hillocks marked on the route map and all were fairly inconsequential except for the final horror – Ditchling Beacon.

The crowds must have thinned at some point because I did manage to get back on the bike and for a few brief miles I actually felt the wind in my face and enjoyed the freedom of a crazy hell for leather descent.

The route, which I’ll illustrate when I’ve got it uploaded, had the potential to be a really enjoyable jaunt into Brighton. Apart from the few little bumps that I’ve already belittled it felt like a 54 mile descent to the sea. There was a heck of a lot of high speed freewheeling to be done but I suppose sharing country lanes with 27,000 other cyclists was never going to feel much better than getting stuck behind a convoy of caravans on a bank holiday exodus from Bridlington.

3648353572 889132a792 m London to Brighton 2009

Ditcling Beacon arrived eventually and the one time I hoped for a blockade of walkers, so I could just excuse myself from the trouble of attempting the ascent, they all appeared to have adopted the “walkers to the left” etiquette. There was a clearish path up and I had to attempt it. I didn’t get too far up though before I lost my rhythm bobbing in and out of bailing bikers and I joined them. It was a tough long walk up so I can only imagine it was a challenging ride.

3650365608 cca2aa12ac m London to Brighton 2009

From this vantage point I could see the sea and Dave said he could smell the pier. I thought he said, “Can you smell the beer?” and I actually thought I could. It gave me a little burst of joy and I blasted my way down onto the slip road into the town and didn’t rest until I found myself with beer and chips in hand.

Damn fine chips they were too.

The t-shirt can be viewed on the events page.

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{ 7 comments… add one }

  • jogblog 23 June, 2009, 10:39 am

    Oh, and I was thinking of doing this next year. Not to be recommended then?

    Glad to see you blogging again though.

  • warriorwoman 23 June, 2009, 12:15 pm

    Oh it’s worth doing once but do it early, or better yet, do it on Saturday.
    The refreshments stops are great though, huge slabs of cake and a coffee for £1.

  • Adele 23 June, 2009, 1:29 pm

    Blimey, I want to do it just for the food and drink! Yum.

    Good to see you back.

  • Sai 23 June, 2009, 2:48 pm

    Congrats on finishing, even if it was a bit of a slow starter. I don’t envy you doing Ditchling Beacon. I ran up to the windmills a few weeks ago (a slightly easier way up the Downs) and some guy at the top said I should have done the Beacon :-)

  • Roads 23 June, 2009, 5:28 pm

    Congratulations on completing the ride, Angela. It’s a long day, but well worth it for the fish and chops on the beach!

    Yes, there was a lot of traffic on the road — even with a 6.30 start — although it thinned out a little later on. The legendary cherry cake provided by Plumpton Guides provided the boost required for Ditchling Beacon, if perhaps not quite enough for the 50 mile return ride to Guildford — but that’s another story.

  • warriorwoman 23 June, 2009, 9:19 pm

    I felt mighty grateful for my lift home when I saw the riders hugging the hard shoulder of the dual carriageway on the way home. I really didn’t feel like doing that.
    The cakes were pretty damn fine though.

  • Speed Racer 3 July, 2009, 5:07 pm

    That would have driven me CRAZY!!! I HATE it when people walk their bikes, and I hate it when it’s so crowded you feel like you’re going to tip over. I would have ridden with a hand pump, bopping people on the head that I thought deserved it. I love the “can you smell the beer” thing, and the picture is great! Congratulations!

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