London to Brighton bike ride – The Event
London to Brighton bike ride – The Heart-throbs
So the day finally arrived for the bike ride … were we ready? Had the training done its job? Would we have an incident-free journey? What was the weather going to be like!?
Sunday 19th June we met at CP Cases at 5.45 am, brimming with apprehension and nerves – but there were excitement and anticipation to get the adrenaline going. Some of us had done the ride multiple times and for others, it was the first. Bikes were loaded into the van and we set off to the starting point at Clapham Common – our start time was 7.00 am. The weather was on our side, dry but above all hardly a breeze.
Before we knew it we were off, the organisation was first class. We weaved our way through London’s suburbs and in no time began to break up – it was impossible to stick together the sheer number of cyclists and differing game plans took toll of that immediately. The early ride was ‘easy’ pulled along by enthusiasm, energy and co-operation with fellow riders you’d never met before.
Time and the early miles went quickly, the suburbs gradually turned to the countryside and then it got tough, very tough…and quickly. Now, the wise man said that for every uphill there is a downhill…that wore thin after a very short while as every downhill meant there was also an uphill…the early hills were tough, some of us walked them, some of us cycled them but they sapped the energy from our legs.
Early and welcome breaks from some, others continued.
A notable milestone was seeing aircraft overhead, a strange relief as it signified we’d journeyed as far as Gatwick, reassuringly over halfway now…but the hills and now even slight inclines were relentless. Legs were seizing and almost cramping as the ride continued. Thanks to the onlookers and staff at the refreshment points for their applause and motivation – many locals had set up chairs and tables at the front of their houses to cheer us along, with an incentive of tea and biscuits to stop and relax along the way.
The ride continued, did I say legs were seizing and cramps developing and then a nightmare at 40 miles, a rest. Unhinging ourselves from our bikes and treading with trepidation until we felt walking was normal again – co-ordination was somewhat lost at this point. Oh but the nightmare, 12 miles to the finish line but Ditchling Beacon ahead of us… a one-mile uphill climb of 143 metres with gradients ranging from 9%-16%.
Ditchling Beacon is the toughest of encounters. You’ve been on your bike for the best part of 4 hours, some of us longer, you’ve already tackled several notable hill climbs and covered 46 miles by the time to get to the bottom of this particular nemesis. But people did it, and so did several from our group…kudos to them, fantastic energy and commitment. As you reached the top you were reminded that this was it…all downhill, at last.
Freewheeling at this point is not for the faint-hearted, so some adopted a more cautious approach. A couple more miles along a flat cycle track and then paradise…Brighton Pier and finally we get a mention as we cross the finish line. Relief and huge satisfaction ensue.
Would we do the bike ride again? Now is not the time to ask, the aches and bruising is still raw!
But here’s the really important stuff. The Heartthrobes managed to raise over £1,000 in support of the British Heart Foundation. For more information about the charity please visit- https://www.bhf.org.uk/[ssba]