The Brighton Burp


It's been a faltering start to my training for the Etape this year without a doubt but Sunday saw a much welcome and even more necessary change in fortunes-a glorious, sunny 100km run from London to Brighton.  Even if it was somewhat marred by a suspect pub lunch it felt great to get some miles into the legs and break out into my new surrounds and discover some exceptionally picturesque scenery on the way.It was also my only opportunity to train this week as I've still been frantically dealing with finding a flat, doing my current temporary job and looking for another more permanent one... its been go go go.

The ride started off great and once outside London we quickly got into a good quick rythym on traffic free roads.  I'd never cycled with James before but he quickly showed he has some decent pins on him.  Although I could keep his wheel on the flat, every time we hit a hill I'd be sliding off the back of him and it became a familiar, and galling, routine to find him a good few hundred yards up the road by the time I crested the peak-but to be honest I was under no illusions as to what condition I'm in before I set off.  Still doesn't make contemplating 16km alpine climbs any less fear-inspiring if I can hardly drag myself up all 500ft of Burgess Hill on a normal Sunday...

Having the Garmin back on my side made for an interesting experience and re-affirmed my faith in having bought it, as it made navigating these totally new roads very easy and meant I could spend more time focusing on what I was doing on the bike rather than where I was going to.  Not all of these signals were especially comforting however... the last thing you need to see when clawing myself up an icy sub-zero Ditchling hill is heart rate readings resembling a seismograph prior to a tsunami. 

In my defence I will say that for the second half of the ride I was enduring what is a first for me...

Having been going at a good rate for a good two hours we decided to treat ourselves and stop at the next pub to have a bite to eat and re-fuel.  The pub looked nice enough, the food arrives and is eagerly dispatched, though by the time I'd finished I felt decidedly out of sorts. Initially I put down to being out of shape or having over-done it on the bike, though despite struggling on the climbs my legs still felt like they had a lot in reserve. 

The ensuing 50km became a bit of an endurance test for the wrong reasons, as I had a constant ache in the gut and felt like I was going to retch, though the only symptom of this despite my worst fears was a near constant burping.  Literally every few seconds.  All the way to Brighton.  The initial relief that this was the only side effect being emitted was soon replaced by a concern that I wouldn't make it the full way, as every burp was accompanied by sharp pain that increased in proportion to the effort being put into the pedals-and I was desperate to have a good days riding as well as not wanting to show myself up. 

Trying to give nothing of my predicament away, I held it together all the way to the Ditchling hill-a surprisingly steep little sting in the tail just before a stunning and quick descent down into Brighton-even managing to deal with a minor mechanical failure when James's chain snapped on the approach-but nearing the summit and as dusk was falling, I had to dismount for fear of treating the passing cars to the spectacle of me hurling off the side of my bike whilst apparently moving up the hill in slow motion.  Luckily this beautiful, idyllic landscape was not besmirched by such a scene, but I sure felt awful, and I knew that any citation of 'food poisoning' at this point would sound like a hollow excuse, so I said nothing and acquiesced to donning the lanterne rouge of shame... 

The timing of our decent into Brighton by contrast was perfect-the sight of the sun setting over the sea as we sped mercifully downhill towards some warming coffee and a train ride back to the big smoke was stunning enough to be impressed upon me despite my internal tumult...  it was only when sitting in a Brighton cafe it was revealed that unbeknownst to each other we had both been feeling dodgy since lunch, and I could stop blaming my discomfort on poor fitness.  A search on Tripadvisor later and I see that there are a few other folk that have endured the same fate at this establishment.  Next time it'll be boring cheese sandwiches and an energy bar I think... 

In light of these rather special circumstances training-wise its hard to know what positives to take from the ride-I was relieved just to finish but not because my legs were spent.  .One thing that is clear is that I really need to get more time on hills and  to listen to what my body is telling me and, turbo theorising about heart rate and cadence aside, need to be prepared to be the slow one in the bunch if it means riding to my ability.  

Which in comparison to the discomfort inspired by that pub lunch is an acceptable alternative.


andylul [410 posts] 6 years ago

50K from Brighton? That's my neck of the woods...

Can you give any hints as to the identity of the dodgy food emporium so I can warn other locals?

Martin Thomas [384 posts] 6 years ago

Ah the Beacon...challenging enough at the best of times, but at the end of a long ride? with a dodgy gut? and in sub-zero temperatures? No fun at all I'd imagine. Well done for coming out the other side.

And yes, name and shame this pub! If they've poisoned other cyclists before they can't claim it's a one-off and they deserve all the bad publicity you can give them.

Gregoire500 [104 posts] 6 years ago

My mate rang them to let them know when we were on the train back as I was doubled over and none to happy and they were apologetic so I'd refrained from naming them but if folks want to know then I don't see why I should protect them so...

the culprits were the Hedgehog Inn, near East Grinsted/Crawley.

Won't be returning and wouldn't recommend it!

skippy [416 posts] 6 years ago

Frankly surprised to see anyone taking time out to eat a full meal during a training ride of distances that you rarely have done before!
Listen to me on this, Vuelta 2001 near Ovieto i stopped for the full monty as i wanted to watch the TV coverage of the atrosities. not only did i put away enough for 4 but i cleaned up the litre of house red as i watched with horror New York's dilemma.

Riding towards the summit that day was slower than normal but had room for more goodies in the hospitality area.

Any Aussies close to Melbourne on SAt 5th checkout Karen's ride and join ,www.ridehardto breatheeasy.com.au

Think you don't have to worry about air quality ? THINK AGAIN !