Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Final report on the London to Brighton Cycle ride 2010

The weeks of dedication and training finally came to fruition on Sunday as Richard, Graham and your humble correspondent tumbled, blinking like Lycra-clad moles into the hazy Clapham sunshine, hoist our liberally creamed buttocks onto the saddle and set off for Brighton.

Graham, a master of expectation setting, despite all his, "not sure I'll be able to keep up with you chaps" disappeared the instant the traffic bunched up and he spied a tiny gap on the pavement, riding his mountain bike he could afford to be a bit more cavalier than those of us atop the delicate filigree of carbon, alloy and wishful thinking that is the modern road bike.

The ride is huge, thousands of folk, leaving Clapham at 30 minute intervals means that congestion and near collision are the order of the day, it's also astonishing to me the number of people I heard advising their companions how to ride a bike, use gears, how to use the brakes!

You need to be fairly silly to take your first cycling lesson on busy roads for 54 miles surrounded by 26,000 others, some of them trying to go quite quickly, but apparently there's a lot of very silly people out there. Richard's view is that the ride is less about raising funds for the British Heart Foundation and more about targeting donors.

The first 20 miles or so is quite frustrating as tight lanes, and occasional hills mean that too much time is spent trudging pedal to ankle with your co-trudgers. As the field thins out a little and the slow, the halt and the soon-to-be-lame fall back it's possible to put on some pace but there are still many slow-moving wobblers from the earlier start batches. Starting at 7:30 was immeasurably better than last years 8:30 but a 6:00 or 6:30 would be needed to deliver a sub 4 hour time for myself, although young Graham (by dint of cycling through the fields, farms, gardens and hedges to avoid congestion) sailed into Brighton seafront in 3:56, well ridden that man.

With the exception of three or four traffic induced hold-ups we didn't stop (apart from a pee-pee apiece and a quick adjustment of my saddle which suddenly developed a very uncomfortable desire to be vertical) and we sailed past refreshment stops, beautiful Sussex villages and waiting ambulances whilst munching on power bars, by halfway we were enjoying some decent riding.

All too soon The South Downs appeared, looming large on the horizon and we trundled through the village of Ditchling and started the infamous ascent of Ditchling Beacon. I confess that last year I failed to cycle all the way to the top, the pressure of pedestrians and the puffing and panting of myself stopped my climb some 400 metres from the summit but this year with a little encouragement from Richard and with most of those who'd failed to make it keeping out of the way I was delighted to get to the top without putting foot to tarmac.

The remaining 6 miles were an exhilarating dash on Richard's back wheel to bring us to the finish line in four and a half hours, knocking 30 minutes off my time last year. Demonstrating my lack of integrity I secretly planned a last minute sneaky sprint to the finish leaving Richard off-guard in my tracks, However, demonstrating my total lack of cycling skills I failed miserably to out-pace my teammate to the finish line and ran out of puff about halfway down the final straight, my sprint evaporated as the Waterlooville Rocket flashed past me to the medals and the enormous crowd gathered to cheer us home were, in the circumstances, very kind and resisted the opportunity to jeer.

In summary

  • My miles 54
  • My time 4:32
  • My top speed 46mph (eek!)
  • My top heart-rate 175 bpm (eek!)
  • My Sponsors, bless you, who made it impossible for me to wimp out by raising £1,295 for the British Heart Foundation (they're all listed on the website click here to see or to add a late contribution)
  • My thanks to Graham and Richard for company, support and coaching,to Glenn, Richard, Jim, Sheila and Jack for training rides, to Lee for the loan of his (unused) "scary triathlon bike" thanks to Rob for the gym sessions and to Vicky and Sophie our angels of transport.
  • My sympathy to the family of Gary Allen who sadly, collapsed on the Beacon and died later in hospital.

  • My plans for next year... We'll see


At 4:14 pm, Blogger IzinSing said...

Too much information about the creamy buttocks. Eek!

At 4:45 pm, Blogger Puneeta said...

Well done Steve. I hope you had time to enjoy it. x

At 4:47 pm, Blogger Stuffy said...

There's a very healthy shortlist of volunteer applicators for next year's event, feel free to register ...

For way too much information on Chamois cream click here ...

At 8:25 am, Blogger MarkMcL said...

46mph double-plus-eek!!

At 11:23 am, Blogger Stuffy said...

Indeed Mark, extremely eek


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