Monday, 22 June 2015

London to Brighton Bike Ride Pt 3 : Riding it


The first ten or so miles of the ride are through the streets of London, progressively further into the sticks until the route turns rural.

It's a psychologically good way to start, with what is a gentle downward slope to the entire first section, although there's buses and traffic to deal with after the first couple of 'closed to traffic' miles.

I'd decided to abandon my Garmin and other technology for this ride. We'd all planned to use WhatsApp to communicate, but once my phone started saying 'no signal' I realised, like last year, this would be technology free.

The first bottlenecks appeared around Tooting. The same places as last year, with the difference that we cleared them much faster. The organisation and marshalling was brilliant throughout, keeping the roads moving in a cheerful manner.

Then onward to the edge of contiguous London and the first of the hills, somewhere between miles 10 and 11.
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At this stage, it's not too bad, although by the top I'd certainly noticed the incline. It reminded me that this wasn't really one of the bumps that counted, yet I'd still noticed it.

A short downhill and then on to Chipstead, where the little lane is cleared for the cyclists. I say cleared, but it had large rock chippings along it, washed there from yesterday's rain. Bumpy, steep and I saw a few cyclists pulled over looking at tyres. I soon also had to dismount too and walked until the road's gradient eased.

Along this section are a couple of the official stopping points. The first one I really noticed had countdown from 800 metres, and I was shocked when I eventually saw the second countdown at 400 metres after what seemed to me to be an eternity.

I'd decided to avoid the stopping points on the right, if they were on hills. I'd found this out the previous year when theres a complicated manoeuvre to move out on an uphill section into the faster moving traffic.

So onward!

Then the long downhill stretch after Fanny's Farm Shop (that's where I stopped last year and had my awkward restart). I pay heed to the hay bales and people shouting to slow down, and there's also some sudden turns to deal with on this stretch.

Then it's speedy progress until the uphill section into Nutfield. The villagers turn out in force, cheering, providing cakes, sweets and water from along the roadside.

Then downhill before getting into the lanes that lead past the Dog and Duck stopping point. This would be an ideal stop for me, but last year I was stuck there for two-and-a-half hours, so this time I kept going.

My own first stop would be at the pretty little village of Turner's Hill. The whole place has a friendly carnival atmosphere and we had a brass band playing on the triangle by the pub.

At this point we are past the halfway mark. Its followed with about 6 miles of largely downhill cycling before the first bump heralding the approach to Ditchling Beacon. So from here, to about the 40th mile, it's a pretty good ride, and with an increase in the number of refreshment stops too.

I decided to stop once more, at the Scout place just before Ditchling Beacon, where many of us sat in the sunshine drinking cups of tea.

I'd decided that I'd go as far up Ditchling Beacon under pedal power as possible and then walk the rest. That wasn't very far. I had to walk the rest of the away to the top at 740 feet. My approximation is about 50% walkers and 50% cyclists at the time I started walking, with the walker percentage increasing as we got closer to the top.

"Only another 100 metres", said the woman shouting encouragement. I really felt that last 100 metres, but then it flattens and the entire road is filled with happy cyclists.

As luck would have it, the ice cream van didn't have a queue at that moment, so a Mr Whippy '99' was in order, before continuing the last seven or so mainly downhill miles into Brighton.

Then, across the line, over to the pre-assigned meeting place where our various supporters already had a picnic. We arrived in stages, so those of us already over the line could go back to cheer the others in.
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I stood for the triumphant bike/beach/sea/pier snapshot.

Then I laid on the pebbly beach. It somehow felt just right...(tbc)
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