London to Brighton...
So, I managed to complete my first London to Brighton ride yesterday. Finished with a moving time of 4.5 hours but an actual time of more like 6 hours. Definitely the biggest ride I've done to date in terms of climbing.
A few thoughts...
First few "urban" miles away from the start were hell, literally only turned the first corner to meet the back of a big queue being marshalled out of a junction.
Surprised by the amount of normal traffic on these early roads too, would have expected more closures, or at least restrictions in place, literally tens of thousands of cyclists plus cars and buses don't mix...
Lots of very impatient or aggressive drivers in this part too. Not like they wouldn't have been aware that this was happening so as to plan their day/journey accordingly.
Taking three hours to do the first 18 or so miles... So many forced stops, queues and, sadly, walking. Couldn't ride up any of the first hills due to the sheer numbers of people off and pushing up the narrow roads.
Lots of clearly once-a-year cyclists, with no particular spatial awareness (or manners, frankly), veering all over the road and stopping without warning, particularly on the hills. A girl I was riding with for a few miles politely called a middle-aged woman out for doing this to her hallway up a hill, just to get a load of abuse in return.
Stupidly placed rest stops right at the top of hills rather than just beyond, further exacerbating the whole stopping without warning/walking situation.
So many BSOs, clearly bought just for the event and probably to be resigned to the shed immediately afterwards!
Never heard so many tortured gear changes or seen so many underinflated tyres! Offered to help a girl riding with an almost completely flat tyre, to which she looked at me like I'd abducted her child...
Quite a few fat guys in too-close-fitting Team Sky kit!
A disproportionately high number of upturned bikes at the side of the road, possibly (but I couldn't be completely sure) linked to the number of BSOs.
BUT, after that first 20 or so miles the nature of the event completely changed. The numbers thinned out massively, seemingly as less regular riders began to flag, and it became a genuinely enjoyable ride through the Sussex countryside. I got into a good rhythm along with 3 or 4 other riders and the following 20 miles sailed by, including the hills inbetween.
And then came the Beacon... It was a relentless, 34/30 crawl, but the etiquette between the walkers and the riders was there this time, and I got myself up it fuelled on gels and Star Mix! Really pleased with myself for that as I thought I might crumble at a couple of points.
The remaining half a dozen miles down into Brighton were a massive high, lots of people out cheering, not least along Madeira Drive itself. Cruised to the finish high-fiving the outstretched hands of the kids in the crowd, to a well-deserved burger and pint a short while later.
Would I do it again? Not sure yet. The frustration of the first few hours doesn't ruin the rest of the ride, which is a genuine challenge (to me at least). As has been said on here before, the earliest start time possible would definitely make for more enjoyable riding in the early stages, and an opportunity to a) tackle all the hills properly, and b) set a decent time.
Still, all for a very worthwhile cause, and the work team I was in have so far raised over 2 grand. That side of it can't be denied.
Anyone else do it this year and, if so, what were your thoughts?