It's fathers day, it's Sunday and it has been forecasted for rain! So what do we do? We ride to Brighton of course!
I know, it's crazy! Even the Old Boy said "Who gets up and does things like this on a Sunday?" Well, 25,000 registered cyclists do, plus all the marshalls, police and volunteers, not to mention all the spectators on route!
We were going to be taking it easy today, by getting the train to Herne Hill and then riding to Clapham from there. We arrived at the station and carried our bikes down the steps. After a few minutes another cyclists joined us, it was David "Marmite" Allison from Pettswood Runners. He was all togged up in is Marmite jersey. He was sensible, he had already parked his car at the seaside! We were going to get back by trains while our bikes went home with Nagging Sister, and everyone else in the van, driven by my nieces dad, Roger, what a generous guy he is!
Our ride was just going to be a totally pleasurable ride, as there as so many cyclists the thought of a PB for this ride is just not possible, unless we had left at 6:00 a.m. from Clapham, and that was never going to happen! Me, the Old Boy and Marmite all arrived at Clapham by about 8:00 ish. "Well, see you at the other end then" said Marmite, "ok cool" I expected him to be well on his way home by the time we even get half way! We were to meet Nagging Sister and her crew at Clapham, but they had left about 20 minutes before we got there! They didn't have to rely on public transport!
We went through the 8:00 clock start, which was still just waiting to go, and then we were off! I wish I could say we sped through town like we were riding the 'Tour of Britain' but it was more like an army of ants traipsing through treacle! "Don't worry, it will spread out a bit when we get out of London" said the Old Boy. Now I know I am not one for speed, and I have been know to complain on one or two occasions about the fact I can't keep up, but even I found this pace, coma inducing drudgery!
I will just have to set my mind on 'Fannys Farm Shop', that is our goal, our first stop and where we will be meeting N.S. and her man Dan. Fanny welcomes in 25,000 cyclist and probably loads more spectators, volunteers etc. all in need of a cuppa and bacon or sausage roll, cakes bananas and what ever else is there. In fact I heard one cyclist asking Fanny herself for one of her tea mugs to buy! How she was going to carry it I don't know! We arrived there, and I called N.S. she had just left! She must have been going through the exit as we were coming through the entrance! They Old boy came back with the food, and then I went up to get some tea. "It's really brilliant Fanny accommodating all these people" I said to the lady serving tea, in mugs, not plastic cups! I may add "All the profits go to charity too" said the lady! How cool is that!
After our refreshment stop we started off towards the next official stop to meet up with N.S. Well, I say we started off! We got out onto the road and then was held up, one of the first accidents that was ahead of us today. I hope who ever it was wasn't too badly injured. We eventually started riding again, very slowly. We passed by where the accident had happened, thankfully there was nothing to see! But then just a little further along we came to another full stop! Just a gridlock of bikes and cyclists, as far as I could see! I took some pictures of another hill, further along in the ride, (as I didn't remember to take some pictures coming out of Fannys Farm). These pictures were after Turners hill, but each hill that we were on looked like this!
|All the way up|
So now you can maybe get an idea of the scale of the BHF Bike ride. It took for ever to move just a few feet. I called N.S. and she said that she had taken an age to get through, there was traffic lights at the bottom of the road! "I shall meet you at the next official stop after the Pig in the Parlour, we want to get some miles in" she said to me, sounding like a cyclists now! "The Dog and Duck then" said the Old Boy. So that would be, hopefully, where we will see them. We also saw Marmite as well! Out of all these thousands of cyclists, and we saw him, we had somehow managed to overtake him but he managed to get in front of us again.
Lets just skip a few miles, but with one mention of the 'Dog and Duck' which is where we did eventually manage to meet up with N.S. and Dan. On the way to here this fantastic bike passed me by, you couldn't help but notice it, it was all gold! My favourite kind of bling, (apart from diamonds)! And there it was parked outside the 'Dog and Duck' of course I had to get a picture of it! So blingy, so cool! *Sigh* Well, we didn't stop here for a drink or eats, this was only to meet up with N.S. and Dan, so we started on our way again.
Then it was Turners Hill. A hill that I have ridden up in the past, but not today. It's a great place, a great party atmosphere. And I just love getting to here, but again we didn't stop, only to regroup, and catch our breath from riding (walking) up the hill. As we were waiting in the crowd to cross over the road I took a picture of these guys! They just looked totally brill! One of them even had some rock tunes playing on the back of his bike! Also the Old Boy had said he had seen Marmite go through as well! How he managed to get behind us again I don't know!
|Rock 'n' Roll!|
Any way, to skip a few miles, of me and N.S. just chatting away, the two guys were now in front of us, no worries about us being alone, (or more than likely so that they can go a tad faster!) our next stopping place is going to be the bottom of Bitchling Deacon, oh dear, I have said it again, of course I mean Ditchling Beacon. This is the very last hill before we get to Brighton, this is where we stop for our first pint of lager! We stopped here last year and really enjoyed it. It helps lubricate your legs to get up the Beacon.
There was a couple on a tandem, they had gone the whole hog and did the whole fancy dress thing, here, this is them. I thought it was rather good! We enjoyed a few drinks and sweeties here, lounging outside in the beautiful warm sunshine! I think this is where I managed to get a bit of colour to my legs, its a pity about the whole silly 'shorts and socks' style tan that I have now!
|Lets be 'avin' you.|
Oh and one more thing about this particular pub, it's the loos. They have class partitioning and glass doors, ok you can't actually see anyone, only just the shadows....that is until you do this.
And this is Dan enjoying his fruit cocktail.
And so now to the Beacon, the Old Boy had every intention of riding up here. By now I was really exhausted, I had already had walked up some of the hills today, one reason being was because of the sheer number of cyclists, it was safer to walk! and two I just didn't have the legs today. But when we got there it was even more jam packed than all the other hills! It was positively ridiculous! You could hear the calls "Walkers on the left" but there really wasn't any room to even lift your hand to wipe your nose! There were some people who were really trying to ride up the hill, but that looked more dangerous than ever! They really were wobbling about as we slowly all walked up the hill. I think the Old Boy did manage to find a 'bit of road' where he could get back into the peddles.
Me, Nagging Sister and Dan decided that to pass the time we would play a game. The game was to name a film or t.v. programme starting with the letter 'A' and then going all the way through to 'Z' I believe we all managed to find at least one film or programme for each letter. We also encouraged all that was in ear shot to join in! It was a tough long sweaty walk up the hill.
Eventually after it seemed forever getting up to the top we had time to look out over the Downs. A fantastic view from up there. It also gave me and N.S. time to use the pit stop. Several pints of lager at the bottom of the hill will do that to you. We came back only to find the boys had 'moved'. How did they move with our bikes. We walked up further than we thought they should have been, and then walked back to where we thought we had left them. We couldn't see them anywhere! We had to call our support crew to call Dan to tell us where there were!
What me and bimbo N.S. had done was actually gone to the loo through one entrance and then came out the other entrance! Which we didn't realise! They boys hadn't actually moved at all! Unless they really were playing mind games with us!
Here is a few shots at the top of the Beacon.
|Brighton Football club|
|Dawn Dan and alan....ooops|
|Dawn Dan and Alan|
|And me, just to show to show you that I did actually get there|
And it was beautiful. The sun was still shining and I was loving it. Knowing we only had a few miles to go as well picked up my spirit as well. I was singing all the way down, Which by the way, for the last part of the hill was done at a snails pace! And it seemed that way all the way into Brighton after that, occasionally managing to get a bit of speed on. But me and the Old Boy crossed over the finishing line, hand in hand!
Tired, rained on, sunned on, and looking for something to eat! We met up with the support crew, my nieces with their dad Roger, and had another pint with them. We gave them our bikes to take home while me and the Old Boy went off in search of food. We ended up at Fat Leo's, normally a very good meal in there, but today, not so good. Maybe the chef was a bit tired as well!
Geeky stats, and my Garmin stopped before we even got on to Maderia Drive! But at least it still says we got to Brighton.