I arrived at Clapham Common at 6.45am. Whilst some people’s nights were ending outside clubs (madness), my day was beginning. The 7.30am starters were lining up and we slowly shuffled through the gates, gathering behind the start line. And we’re off! A gentle walk pushing the bike, eventually we crossed over the start line at 7.55am. So it took a while to get going and out of London with traffic lights turning and twenty thousand and something cyclists leaving. But I was loving it already. I wasn’t getting drenched and I was somewhere new. When I began cycling a year and a half ago, it felt like discovering a freedom. In not much time you could be somewhere unknown and see so much.
I was heading to the sea with a mixed bag of peddlers, including Alice in Wonderland, a centurion, the Whitley Choppers and their stereos, and many MAMILs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra). As a woman, I couldn’t help but giggle when I saw long queues for the gents at refreshment points, and I could walk straight into the ladies.
By 9.30am I was well underway. The weather was overcast, and this was perfect for me. I hopped off at a few refreshment points, and perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, but at 11am I demolished a burger. I needed FOOD. No more Soreen already (ate too much on last year’s charity ride). The atmosphere was great along the route and the only grumble I heard, a jovial one really, was with a backlog of cyclists on the smallest hill near the start. Someone had fallen ill I think. But they’re not to be sneered at, as the ride was by no means easy.
Every now and again you’d get a steep hill to dart down, and this was met with a climb up Turners Hill, half way. It was hard and many walked. I stayed in the saddle and after a lot of huffing and puffing welcomed a break at the top. The biggest challenge came four miles from the end, Ditchling Beacon. Approaching the picturesque village of Ditchling, the 814ft beast loomed and there was no avoiding it. With heavy breaths and a couple of short stops, I made it up on my bike! How would walking it be easier? It did go on a bit, but at the top we were rewarded with stunning views, and from here on it was a breeze down to Brighton.
The sun had come out and turned me a nice shade of red. And the finish was fabulous. Rolling along Madeira Drive, crowds lined the road to cheer us all in. The support for the event was amazing. Children looked on inspired, older people sat out the front of their houses and admired, and people have been so generous, especially here at GRIN. This was a charity ride raising money for the British Heart Foundation.
Coronary heart disease is the UK’s biggest killer and over 7 million people in the UK are living with cardiovascular disease. It’s still not too late to donate on my JustGiving page. You can make a difference, and why not take part in the ride next year!