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Neuroendocrine Cancer Community

Nigel’s 100km London to Brighton Bike ride!

Aug 16, 2022

After a pasta – packed supper on Friday we tried on our new orange high vis cycling jerseys which Olivia had bought as a team strip and equally bright socks, ready for the start on Saturday morning. No one would fail to see us coming even in the dark shady lanes.

 

We set off early (6:55 am) following one of the routes devised by Christian. Olivia felt we wanted one with lovely scenery and “undulations“, i.e. not flat.

With almost no traffic we made good time leaving London and soon got into our stride. Quite a lot of suburbia to start with but in no time, we were out into lovely open countryside. A gentle climb up to Farthing Down was rewarded by lovely views all round as well as the spectacle of two curious cows trying to break out over a cattle grid.

Our first stop at about 9 was for coffee at a very parched Bletchingley Golf Club where we mingled with smartly dressed golfers at an early Tee cabin. By this time the sun was up and it was already hot. But, as Olivia kept reminding me, the faster I pedalled the more breeze I created and the cooler I would be!

Before we got to the golf club, I had taken a gel (think liquid Kendall mint cake in a foil shampoo container) hugely sticky but full of energy. I managed to dribble it on my hand and handlebars so access to the club loos to wash the stuff off was very welcome.

We continued along the country roads and lanes enjoying the “undulations” especially the downdulations.
Our first longer climb was Turners Hill which we managed without too much difficulty. There were  lots of other cyclists doing the same climb. At the top of the hill I bought a bag of jelly babies to maintain energy input but they didn’t taste anything like as good as Allison‘s flapjacks which I had been enjoying along the way.

Our next stop was at Ardingly which was about halfway by distance if not by effort.

Olivia and Christian had discovered a bakery there and it seemed like a really good place to pause. Whilst Olivia and I had been cycling south, Christian had driven Olivia‘s car “Ruby“ down to Brighton, parked up, unloaded his bike, and cycled back northwards to join us at Ardingly. He covered the ground extremely quickly climbing up from sea level at Brighton over Ditchling Beacon from the south and arrived extremely sweaty… I stood well away from him for the picture!

Olivia and I had had a delicious fried egg sandwich at the café in Ardingly with some Coke and set off with Christian who had very little turnaround time, no sandwich, a bit of a flapjack and some Coke. He coped very well with this!

Olivia and I were drinking at least 750 mL of water per hour enriched with electrolyte pills and eating a few bites of bananas, one of Allison’s flapjacks, or an energy bar every 20 minutes or so to keep fuelled and hydrated. We continued with our regular ad hoc food and water stops as planned but also made some enjoyable discoveries, one of which was Craft House Coffee who roast, sell and brew delicious single producer ( I think) coffee from a converted barn on a large farm. We enjoyed a very fine cup of coffee from them in a fan-cooled barn before we set off once again for the major challenge.

It was now very hot but, as Olivia reminded me the faster, I pedalled the more breeze I created and the cooler I would be! We came across some unusual and diverting road names along the way Slug Wash Lane sticks in the mind. We followed it for a very long way without seeing any slugs at all, let alone any being washed.

When it came to the major challenge, Ditchling Beacon, 248m high, we had a choice: either take the classic route up and over the Beacon or take a longer and flatter one avoiding the climb. I chose the former, it seemed that it would be a shame not to take on the full challenge. On the drive back we saw the alternative route which was a cycle path alongside the A23 which would have been a very suboptimal option in comparison to the lovely roads and lanes we had enjoyed so far

On the road up to the Beacon (full of hot cyclists and hot and bothered motorists) we met up with a lady who had ridden a heavy “town bike” with few gears from Brixton, a few miles further than us.

We had an exquisite cruise down into Brighton which, although I was assured by Christian had no ups in it, it did! But in fairness only little ups. We rode along the seafront for a bit but found it very hot and crowded and a really nasty comparison with the beautiful empty countryside we’ve been cycling through early on, so we found the car, changed out of our by now very sweaty lycra in the car park and went for a hearty lunch followed by a lovely cooling swim on Hove beach before jumping into Ruby for the drive back.

Overall, it was a hard, hot ride but, given your financial support for the charity really worthwhile. Olivia and Christian were absolute stars all the way on the day and in the preparations beforehand so I’m really grateful for their support and for using their knowledge and experience was proper cyclists to get me over the line.

Thanks to Allison for the world’s best flapjacks.