Every year the BHF London to Brighton bike ride is on Father's Day and for the third year running I rode it. This year my companions were (my sister in law) Caroline, Steve (who I've ridden the last 2 with), Daniel, and Kieran. We ended up starting a little later than planned thanks to loads of missed calls and texts but got going just after 8am. Actually we skipped the official start as it is just a ceremonial ride under a banner and isn't for time keeping or what have you.
The first 8 miles out through London were the usual slow crawl, with lots of bottlenecks at traffic lights. Once out of London and past the first hill it was moving nicely but after 22 miles the whole ride ground to a halt. With little information about what was happening it was just a case of waiting. The weather was a lot cooler than expected so I got quite cold waiting, though I did bump into Mike (who I know from twitter) so it was nice to have a chat with him. After about 40 mins the cyclists in front started inching forward really slowly and we found out there had been a really bad accident. In the news the next day they said a lady had had to be taken by air ambulance to hospital after crashing. Not good at all. We also saw the aftermath of a variety of other accidents along the route, mainly on descents, with a pair of riders in a ditch being seen to by St John's Ambulance folks. After inching forward slowly for a while the opportunity to take a lane to left came up. It wasn't on the official route but a local said it was possible to join up again a few miles along and loads of others were doing it so after we'd all regrouped off we went. It was a very good decision! Was much better to be moving than standing still and we cracked on to Turners Hill. it is just over halfway and has a load of stalls selling food and a pub there. Also the local church provides free water to refill your bottles with and cakes for whatever donation you feel like giving. Once we'd all refuelled the next 10 miles or so all seem downhill and quite an easy ride. Our group all got split up along here due to different abilities but I caught up with Daniel again near Ditchling Beacon. I really wanted to nail it this year but only managed halfway up. At the summit Daniel, Caroline & I regrouped and rode into Brighton together. The ride after the beacon is lovely; really fast and is pretty much a 5 mile ride downhill to the finish. Everyone is really happy the beacon is out of the way and the finish is in sight (figuratively). Once finished we got our medal and bottle of water then congratulated ourselves then all headed off home (on bike).
As usual there were various crazy people doing it: a bunch of postmen on post delivery bikes (that looked VERY heavy), someon a Raleigh Chopper, bmx'ers and a guy on rollerboots that went down a hill in front of me. As I checked the GPS on the way down I know he got up to 24 MPH on his descent! Utter nutter.
Not too sore the day afterwards though the legs were aching a bit. However Letty had had a school friend over and I dropped her back home. We got to her block and she wanted to run up the stairs to her flat but it was ont he 4th floor and after 2 flights of stairs I had to get the lift! Will definitely like to ride it again and was discussing maybe starting earlier to beat the crowds a bit but as Steve pointed out the crowds and the atmosphere is part of what makes the whole event so enjoyable. Maybe a 7am start next time.
Steve & I shared a sponsorship page and ended up setting a target of £500 though it was lower before but as the donations came in we kept increasing it in the hope it would encourage people to donate more. We ended up raising £620 (at time of writing this) for the local children's hospital. That has blown me away and I was touched by everyone's generosity as Jerome was treated for pneumonia there and I really wanted to help them in return somehow.
Here's my Strava info for the day. I managed to mess up my GPS recording by pausing it when I had a wee and Strava hates the recording being paused. In total I did about 65 miles by riding to the start then riding home again. Note my Personal Record on "Escape the Chavs"! I did a sprint away from the other cyclists on the line to see if my legs could take it.