Tuesday, 14 June 2011
The annual London to Brighton bike ride takes place in June. It’s this weekend actually, Sunday June 19th, at the start of National Bike Week. I am sure of the date because I will be hopping on my bike to join the masses pedalling 54 miles from capital to coast.
I’m quite a keen cyclist (with more enthusiasm than ability). I cycle a ten mile round trip to work from the edge of the city to Brighton Town Hall, over the steep slope of Ovingdean Hill then along the comfort of the city’s excellent cycle lanes on the coast road - passing by Roedean, the marina, Brighton Pier and on into the Lanes.
My daily commute can be hard going in rough weather but it is nothing compared to the highs and lows of the London to Brighton bike ride. I know because I took part in the event for the first time last year and I can’t believe I’m going to try to do it again, gulp, in a few days time. It’s hard work, tiring and yet ultimately exhilarating.
And it’s all for a good cause. The London to Brighton Bike Ride is the UK's largest charity bike ride with 27,000 riders cycling to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. It’s a sight to behold when so many cyclists take to the roads at the same time.
The ride start time is staggered with the earliest participants leaving Clapham Common, London, at 6.30am. I’ll be among this dawn parade in a bid to make it back to Brighton before nightfall.
At the outset, after escaping the London suburbs, the route meanders through picturesque English countryside before the Sussex border rolls into sight. And then, just a few miles north of the seafront finish line, is the highest point in East Sussex - Ditchling Beacon.
There is just one mile in distance from the bottom of this mighty monster to the summit 248 metres above sea level. It’s an almost impossible incline, made more difficult by the fatigue of having already cycled 50 miles.
Last year an accident closed the road so, by the time I reached the Beacon, I was among a backlog of cyclists forced to dismount and squish up the narrow path at a snail’s pace. I wonder if I’ll have the chance and the stamina to make it over the top this year!
And finally it’s all downhill. Swooping at speed along the roads to the seafront where officials wait to hand out medals and bottles of water. Then all that’s left to do is cycle home…
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