Anything 4 A Ride MTB Club / Race Team
BHF London to Brighton 21/06/09
Graeme Report
   6 of us decided to enter this years London to Brighton bike ride, however only Katie and myself got places. The ride is 54miles with a couple of hills (4 on the Route Planner) and last time I tried it was back in 1994 when I rode it on my own.
We had been given a start time of 08:30am so reconed we’d be in Brighton by 1pm easy. We got over to Clapham Common for about 7:30am. I noticed that you could change your start time so went and changed ours for 8:00am. You could also sign up on the day to, which seemed weird as they said it was a sell out. By the time we actually crossed the start line it was about 8:30 anyway. Getting out of London took quite a while as it was stop start all the way with quite big queues at most sets of traffic lights. Once out of town, just after Mitcham the ride got going abit, however ground to halt after just over 10 miles at the first climb near Chipstead. Because so many people were getting off to walk then stopping to get back on at the top it backed everyone up. Everybody apart from Katie and myself around us were walking up this hill. What??? It’s a sponsored bike ride not a bike walk. We eventually made it up (after dabbing 5 times, I can’t trackstand for that long when loaded with one pannier etc) and got going over the top. This seemed to set the tone for each hill of the day.
We made our first stop after about 18miles for a quick Jam sandwich. The entry of which was a bump up the curb which seem to catch most people out.  Straight after this stop was a small climb. There were a lot of impatient people at this point I’m afraid to say. Lots were deciding to jump a stile with their bikes and then ride along a footpath across a field to cut the corner off. Others thought it was appropriate just to push by on the grass verge to the front of the queue. We must of spent nearly 45mins just getting up this one small hill, yawn, it was gonna be a long day.

After this the field did spread out a bit as a lot of people were stopping for lunch. The next climb was @ Turners Hill. This time it wasn’t to bad with walkers however due to the junction just at the top and people stopping randomly to buy cakes etc at the side of the road there was a huge jam at the top. Us and the bikes were ok so we decided not to stop as it was getting late plus we were meeting everyone down in Brighton. We eventually stopped @ Wivelsfield stop as we’d become separated from each other. We cracked into the picnic sausages, pork pies and dips. Both necked a Go-Gel for desert and it was back on the bike down to the bottom of Ditchling Beacon.

Everybody started chattering about the impending hill and how it was so hard, nie on impossible. This of course didn’t have a very good effect on inexperienced riders, thus leading to some of them to jump off right at the bottom and not even try it. I tried to ride with Katie at the bottom of the hill however soon become separated, so I decided to meet at the top. I kept over to the right and rode all the way to the top, putting on the odd spurt or two to get round the walkers. I clearly states in the rules to walk on the left, so why don’t people? By the time I round the corner to the top I was only just getting into it. What a disappointment and anti-climax. I waited at the side of the road for Katie who arrived a little while later, also having ridden all the way to the top. She too commented on how much of an anti-climax the climb was. Before you knew it you were at the top.

Next it was downhill all the way into Brighton and more traffic. This was one of the worst experiences of the whole ride. There were clear signs up explaining that the inside lane was for bikes and the outside for cars. Did drivers of the cars care? No. All of the cyclist had to squeeze along the single bike lane at the side of the road, what a joke. Further on after the cars had turned off, it was cycles only with cars coming in the opposite direction. There were a few Pelican crossings along this road, which were in use. Most cyclists stopped however some didn’t. At one were I stopped at the front, a lady was crossing. As soon as she had got half way across the road, cyclists started to move. A man behind me shouted “come on”, nudging the back of my bike as I sat there obeying the red light. “It’s a red light” I said, “Everyone else is going” he replied, “I don’t care if everyone else is, its red for a reason”. Ok my language may have been a tad more colourful than that, but what an idiot this guy was. I had had to bite my tongue most of the day whilst remembering this was a charity event and a lot of other riders will not be very experienced, however I just had to say something at this point. I had seen so many moronic acts of cycling and ignorance towards others displayed that day it was unreal.

Katie and I eventually crossed the line after 7hours, most of which were spent sitting in queues. Dave and El were waiting to cheer us in which was a welcome sight. Katie and I crossed the line together and collect our finishers’ medals, then went and sat on the beach and ate the rest of the food.

Not sure if we will do this event again as it can be very dangerous (due to hardly anyone obeying basic rules of the road or even the rules of the event) and extremely frustrating.

Well done to Katie for completing the ride, making it to the top of Ditchling Beacon and raising some sponsership cash for BHF.
Thanks to Dave and El for cheering us on and Paul and Emma for giving us a lift back home.