Its really not that hard – honest!
## The London to Brighton Bike Ride
A deserved cold pint after 56 miles at the finish.
It was really fun — much like diving! — The event took place on the 17th June, and started very early for me and Steve Ilsey…
I had to get up at 5am to be ready for Steve, who was due to call for me at 5.30 in a mini-cab (estate car), to transport our bikes to the start at Clapham Common.
## Sponsoring the RNLI
At this stage I must say that the official event is sponsored by the British Heart Foundation, but as (as far as I am aware) the majority of the other 35,000 riders were raising funds for them, I didn’t feel guilty in deciding to raise funds for the RNLI. Every year I try to help to raise funds for an organisation that is relevant to Divers and we have always supported the RNLI, last year I raised funds for the DDRC with my sponsored slim (that has since gone a bit pear shaped – but will be rectified!).
It was overcast and the clouds looked threatening, not what was forecast the day before but probably ideal cycling conditions in a marathon like this over 56 miles. The route avoids motorways, and main A roads and is mainly on B roads and it is a really picturesque route going through beautiful little Sussex villages like Wivelsfield.
I explained to Steve at the start that I am a one-pace pony — I’ve done the event six times before, have finished it every time, I know my limits and I know that if I keep the same pace up all the way I will do it. I know it takes me about 6 1/2 hours with 4 or 5 stops along the way and that’s what I planned for.
Steve stayed with me for the first 4 or 5 miles then he was spurting off and kept stopping waiting for me but I told him he could shoot off he he wanted to, so that was pretty much the last of him I saw until Brighton apart from a brief meet up at the top of Turners Hill Steve finished about half an hour before me and I arrived at spot on 12.30, so 6 1/4 hours, 1/4 hour faster than my usual time!
## Up’s and downs
At the bottom of the Beacon. We had to get up that!
So I can only speak about my journey, though Steve said his was quite uneventful and he didn’t even attempt to ride up Ditchling Beacon until he could see the top of the hill! (at least I rode up the last quarter). I saw a couple of really nasty accidents, in one, horrifically some Girl had crashed at speed and dislocated her shoulder… Whilst there are a couple of horrific hills to climb, Turners Hill (not so steep but just goes on and on) and Ditchling Beacon which climbs to 813 feet above sea level, there are quite a few very steep hills to cycle DOWN, and you can get up some amazing speed, so really no wonder there are accidents and it is very important to be careful and keep your wits about you. The heavens opened which I approached Turners Hill and it bucketed down for about 20 minutes during which I took shelter and at the top of Turners Hill, there was the Church Hall offering Free drinks, Free sweets and Free Love! I took a free sweet and Steve took some “Holy” water — but we didn’t get any Free Love unfortunately!
There were people doing it in fancy dress costumes, Postmen doing it on their Royal Mail bikes, people on Tandems, though I didn’t see the guy doing it on a Penny Farthing this year, kids squirting the riders with their waterpistols, scores and scores of refreshment and repair stops, lots of comradery and loads of fun (and a bit of pain…)
## Hello Stella, remember Alex?
Once at the top of the Beacon, it is 5 1/2 miles down in to Brighton, mostly downhill and it is an amazing feeling peddling through the town with the streets lined with people clapping, especially the finishing stretch down into Madeira Drive, its lined with thousands of people clapping and cheering with an official making really cheesy comments over the mike. With legs like jelly I stepped off the bike at the finishing line and almost immediately found Steve and dragged him off to my usual waterhole hole, Volks Bar, where we downed savoured 2 pints of Ice Cold Stella and downed them rather quickly! (have you seen the film “Ice cold in Alex”? – it was just like the scene in that with Alex Guinness having an Ice cold beer after all that time in the Desert) – after that we strolled onto the Pier and sat outside in the sun and had some fish & chips washed down with another 3 pints of Stella.
Looking South towards Brighton at top of Ditchling Beacon
In the evening we went back on the Pier for a couple more before we checked into our Hotel for the night, the Quality Inn… Whilst it wasnt a bad hotel it certainly wasn’t quality, not for £99 each it wasn’t… I went off to see INXS who were in concert at the Brighton Dome, whilst they are a bit of a spent force it was a fun concert and good to hear some of their old hits.
The day was polished off suitably by getting extremely “socially confused” in a fantastic bar near the hotel called Pasha which was full of other cyclists staying the night, it had a good DJ and massive TV screens showing the football, and about 20 different types of Vodka – perfect!
## The morning after the day before
Next morning we went down for breakfast, which was a self service affair and 500 times better than the breakfast at the Mountbatten Centre – you could have as many sausages as you liked here! All that was left was for us to drag ourselves up to the train station for our journey home, now, after a long soak in a Radox bath its good to reflect on what was a very successful & enjoyable fundraising event.
## On your bike!
I’m pleased to say that we have raised £570 for the R.N.L.I. which is a fantastic achievement, if just two of us can raise that amount then imagine what 10 or 20 people can raise! Hoping next year the event will attract more people from our 120+ membership than just myself and Steve — come and have fun with us and raise some funds for a diving related cause, next year we will be raising funds for the DDRC again. It would be nice to get a crowd of us together and someone with a van or vans for support and to meet us down their to bring us back with the bikes.
Cheers Steve for taking part with me (and setting up that website) and thank you to all of you that sponsored us, either on-line direct to the R.N.L.I, or by signing my sponsorship form — I’ll be around on Thursday — thanks again!