Yesterday was the big ride. It all went pretty smoothly in the end. The route was something like this, but I’m not absolutely sure as my mapmyride iPhone app flunked out! The day started with me not being able to sleep until about 4am in the morning. So when I realised it was 8:30am, and that I had to cycle 9 miles from Mortlake to the start line in Streatham in 30 minutes, I was not exactly a happy bunny. Realising that all my training was about to go down the pan, and I was about to miss out on the ride was a notion I discarded in favour of just jumping on my bike and pedalling my way to Streatham Common as fast as I could. I made it to the registration in just over 45 minutes. In fact, being slightly late meant that I missed out on the registration queue, and I could set off straight away, which I did!
Following the orange en-route arrows that the organisers had used to indicate the course route, it took all of five minutes before I had witnessed the first wipe-out. Some bloke totally missed an arrow, and attempted a turn that physics and momentum would not forgive him for…. fail! He was ok though, and having a laugh about it.
Ten miles into the course, around Carshalton, and the first hills started to creep up on us. It was pretty amazing to see some participants utilising a ‘stop cycling and walk up the hills’ technique so soon into the course, considering the undulations that 54 miles of countryside were bound to throw us. About 15 miles in on a curving downhill section, a more unpleasant wipe-out had a young lady flat out on the road. It seemed that she had lost control coming round the bend. Looked like a nasty one, but quite a few magnanimous cyclists were there tending to her, and wardening other cyclists away from the any danger of a pile-up. The various hills, dips and village pass-throughs added up until we got to the half-way point at Turners Hill. All cyclists had a food stop at The Ark sports club on Mount Lane. A veritable carb-tastic slap up feast, no less!
More of the same ensued for much of the next ten miles or so, although I was slightly disconcerted by the rumours concerning the horror coming up that was Ditchling Beacon. The Beacon is a steep hill ten miles outside of Brighton, that pretty much turned 95% of the cyclists into pedestrians, which makes it even harder to cycle up, even if it was clear. In fact, the ascent of Ditchling Beacon resulted in tragedy just two years ago (link)
Somehow I managed to get all the way to the top without stopping. I’m not sure I’ve ever had to use my lowest gear before, and was truly amazed that most people weren’t even trying to cycle up it! To give you some idea of the experience, you ought to check this out:
Well, after the big climb, it was more or less downhill all the way. I’m not sure that I’ve ever gone quite as fast on a push-bike in my life, as the downhill section had me breaking to stay under the 40 mile per hour speed limit. By then, we had reached the outskirts of Brighton, so victory was in sight. I made it across the finish line in just under four hours and ten minutes. A cycle ride to Hove station to avoid the more obvious Brighton station had me on a train back to the smoke. For all the effort of pedalling down to the coast, one and a half hours worth of train diesel put me back in my front room.
Well, I’ve got six weeks to go now till the Run To The Beat half marathon. I’ve done the tricky part, so now I’ve just got to hit the road miles in my runners so that I can complete this challenge. Please visit www.justgiving.com/uberdavis to help me out if you can! And special thanks to J-Wol, Jules, Soph, my Mum and everyone else for contributing so far.