Sunday, 21 June 2015

London to Brighton Bike Ride Pt 2 : The Start


The combination of the evening's festivities, a bit too much expresso and the thought of the ride itself helped me wake early.

04:30 early. The building works at Battersea power station were temporarily the source of the greatest light.

This was even earlier than my strategically placed iPhone alarm, which was set for 04:50 (OK, and 05:00).

I decided to make a start. First priority was to check for early rain.

None. So far so good.

Now to get ready, including an optimistic application of SPF30. Light breakfast (okay, with the instant porridge and a banana) and I'm ready to go. Acquire bike and backpack and begin my cycle to the start on Clapham Common.

Except.

I've left the water bottles in the fridge! I usually cycle around with a small Camelback backpack, so this normal water bottle process was something of a variation. I hadn't gone far, time to turn around.

Cycle back to pickup the water bottles.

Second attempt to reach the start. I'm all labelled up with my number so basically ready for my 06:00 start.

The Sunday morning roads at 05:30 were surprisingly busy. I realised that much of the traffic was on its way to do drop-offs at the Common. I also noticed the increasing number of converging riders, including a whole team in proper kit who tagged along at the same gentle pace as me to the start.

I'd been told that there might be some very enthusiastic riders at the 06:00 start, because this was the time least likely to be troubled by bottlenecks.

This was Lycra city with vibrant colours cutting through the early light, as well as every other variation from fancy dress (lightweight obviously), serious looking teams and every type of bike from single speed fixie, basket bikes, mountain bikes and racers.

Sure enough, 05:45 and I'm in a good position near the start of the funnel.

"Are you losing your bottle?" asked a fellow rider.

She looked towards my bike. One of my originally missing water-bottles was hanging sideways at a jaunty angle.

I suddenly remembered.

I'd only put the water bottle cages back on Friday. I'd hand tightened them until I could get the right spanner.

I wheeled my bike to the side, rummaged in the saddlebag and found the Crank Brothers all-in-one tool. A few minutes of twiddling things and I'm ready to rejoin the line.

But what a difference a moment makes. I look up and there's suddenly another 3,000 people in front of me. I can't even see the people I was standing with any longer. Everyone has bunched forward to get into the funnel ready for the start.

I'm now in what is probably the third batch to get away. It's all good natured as we thread our way to the start, walk the first grassy 200 metres until we can get to the road surface and gingerly start pedalling through the already quite dense throng.

I know that this early start will be less busy than later and that the density will thin out as we get onto the main road systems leaving London.

But hey, we are on our way! ...(tbc)

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