Thousands of tired happy people sped onto the seafront this Sunday as the annual London to Brighton BHF bike riders hurtled to their destination. Cheered by welcoming crowds, the city enjoyed a carnival atmosphere as the wheeled parade rolled in.
Soon a steady stream of bicycles was flowing into Brighton. Riders of all ages and abilities arrived looking jubilant. I made the journey in a ride time of 5 hours and 7 minutes. Quick enough to be proud of and the right pace to cycle along with both fun-riders and those on the fast track.
The first cyclists to leave London at 6am could be seen whizzing to the finish line little more than two hours later. Lycra-clad with muscles of steel and oozing confidence, they raced along atop bikes with wheels as thin as wire. These early birds simply flew the course and made the whole 56 miles look easy.The end is nigh!
I saw a wide range of whacky costumes, some a major hindrance to cycling. At one of the refreshment stops, I was chatting to a giant cockroach who explained he’d promised his work colleagues that the more they sponsored him, the weirder his outfit would be. They were very generous and the poor chap ended up as a riding roach.
The fox and huntsmen were well kitted out, complete with picnic hamper!
The clown on a unicycle was very swift paced and unperturbed by many of the hills forcing a high number of two wheelers to get off and push.Clowning around!
My favourite bike of the day was the push-me-pull-you cycle. A madcap contraption that at first glance seemed to be one of the tandems on the road – but no! This pair laughed themselves all the way to Brighton and brought a smile to the faces of all who saw them.
I can’t help wondering how those on unusual cycles managed when they hit the dreaded Beacon. I descended the base of the menacing incline with a sense of trepidation and determination. I’m proud to say I made it all the way to the top without stopping. It wasn’t an elegant stage of the ride on my part, dodging out of the way of faster fitter cyclists and trying not to wobble into the walkers. I was gasping for air and desperate for water when I reached the summit almost sobbing from the effort. Worth every turn of the pedals though! I couldn’t wait to tell my family and sponsors that I’d really done it!
Finally, I was back in my home city and the end was in sight. With one final burst of speed, I pedalled furiously towards the finish line, camera ready and waving happily to the crowds. What a really fun way to spend a Sunday morning!
And there's time to enjoy plenty more fabulous cycling activities happening right now in the city for Bike Week 2011.