Monday, 29 September 2008

London to Brighton Off Road

I have been a bit slack with the blog of late – and I will not bore you now with all the details. But I will back fill a few things in later posts.


So a MASSIVE thank you to all who donated. The role of honour can be found at:

The good news is that AVIVA will fund match this pound for pound up to £500 – so this is looking like £700 (with a few more stragglers to go). The whole team has raised close to £3,800 - and like me there are a few more pledges to come so with luck this total will go over the £4K mark.

The ride itself took almost exactly 9 hours – with an hour for lunch – and all seven of us started and finished in a group.

We left the start at Roehampton University just before 9am in the fog after a slightly chaotic sign in process, at which we were given new route cards with a long diversion included in the route.

At a first glance the diversion looked challenging – skirting Guildford - and then forcing a route up over the North Downs at Newlands Corner. This was a good thing as the original route was very flat – and this diversion would add a bit more to the ride and make it more of an event. After a photo in the car park (and a slug of Scotch for luck) we set off.

The first bit was a nice spin in the fog over Richmond Park then onto the Thames path and Hampton Court, then Walton and onto Weybridge, where the first check point was located. This was a good place to stop for a moment, as a lot of the testosterone powered male group riders on a mission to finish in a quick time sped past.

We then got into the diversion.

After a wrong turn - which sent about thirty of us the wrong way in some woods near the A3 at Wisely (double back required) we hit the North Downs and a series of short technical climbs. Loose rocks and roots and some single track – and this began the sorting process for those of the 400 entrants who had done some training and those that thought they would wing it.

Cracking on we had a good couple of down hill sections – where again regular riders were easy to spot (they rode down the obstacles - roots and drops) whilst a fair few people walked down – and I think we as a group over took quite a few people at this point.

At Cranleigh (and our planned lunch stop at about 35 miles) the technical stuff was over. In Cranleigh Sue and Jude – our support team were in place and we filled up on various goodies from the local bakeries. Calorie dense ‘sports nutrition’ of Cornish Pasty and Jam doughnut, washed down with some form of isotonic lucozade made up lunch.
I think it was a good idea to stop for lunch. The sun was out and it was great to re-fuel in the sun and take stock of the morning. I think a fair few riders passed us at this point – opting for lunch on the go – or a very short stop. This gave us the advantage of much less congested tracks in the afternoon – and no pressure at any bottle necks.

We then rode on the South Downs link – which is essentially a disused railway line that heads to the South Downs. Easy gradient and a fast pace saw the miles disappear as my high performance lunch kicked in.

As we neared the south coast we finally got to see the South Downs.

Joy - it was clear that the last five miles would be easy and downhill. What a way to finish rolling into Brighton.

Joy ending realisation - the five miles before the downhill were going to be up hill. Gravity was the master at this point, as we were now all feeling the distance, and the hills from the diversion early in the ride.

Thus the last check point was a spot to fortify oneself for the final push. Hayden and Tom had some form of power gel (Yuk) - I ate a biscuit and took two Nurofen.

We then headed up a really steep and rocky byway - which was a killer. Tom’s heart rate monitor was at 165 plus all the way up. I have no idea where my heart rate was at, as all I could do was peddle squares in the smallest gear.

At the top a false flat took us along to a Youth Hostel and then we had a view of the sea. We plunged down to Shoreham as the sun was beginning to set and made the last three miles through the docks and along the front.

By this point Hayden’s right knee had given up on him - and he rode the last mile or so only with only his left leg on the peddle. In the sunset this looked quite impressive – and I wondered how many people thought he had done the whole ride like that!

Bang on sun set we crossed the line together.

We certainly were not the last in. But that was not the point. Money raised and great day out were the objectives and I think we more than met these.

I got a medal. I got a t-shirt. I had fish and chips by the sea. I slept well.

So thanks again to those that donated – and if you fancy doing it next year check out the pictures of us at the finish!