Now I know how my friends felt when they lost a football match. I could never understand how/why they would be so unchangeably glum and frustrated. Then my battery died mid Brighton ride – again! And now Strava says that my average speed was 8.8mph because it suddenly decided that it would just make up what happened at the end of the ride – incorporating my leisurely fish cake and chips and waste of time trip to the bathrooms on the pier into my active ‘moving time’. This is not a game any more people – what was the point in battling up that evil Beacon for the third time if I have no idea whether I am getting any better?!
Okay, so really it doesn’t matter and I had a lovely day (and the little PB medals from earlier in the ride helped to cheer me up) but it did make me a little narky for a while. Now that I have washed away my monobrow of filth and discovered that I wasn’t just dirty, I actually have a tiny tan, I’m ready to write the blog.
By now, I know the Brighton route pretty well, or so I thought!
It turns out that today CAN be classed as a new 20:20:20 ride. I got to meet the lovely James (who was an awesome route-master and made sure everyone was together throughout the cycle, holding back and then gunning it to the front again) and Hannah (who had only previously cycled 30 miles at once but is training for an incredible Niagara to New York ride – YES!!).
There were three main deviations from former routes:
1. Leaving London through Wimbledon:
Pros – Wimbledon is beautiful and this is a much more direct route out of the city. You miss the long drag out of Carshalton up to Woodmansterne, which is sapping at the beginning of the ride. It’s more direct (for me anyway). You don’t have to cycle out through Tooting or Mitcham which are pretty horrific traffic wise.
Cons – You miss the glorious descent down Rectory Lane, which I have found really gives you the buzz you need to make it up How Lane – it’s one of my favourites (I think I say this about every descent). There’s a big old chunk of dual carriageway and some fairly nasty roundabouts to encounter.
My view? I would probably keep the route out through Wimbledon over the Clapham route BUT cut through the housing estate up to Woodmansterne so that I get to whizz down Rectory Lane.
2. Turning right in Ardingly to head along College Road
Pros – WOW – you get to see the most stunning College. (They have a Prep School and the first picture on their Prep page is of the headmaster napping. Perhaps I need to find out more about this!) All of the other views along this route are incredibly stunning. The road is much quieter and you can actually do a little side by side riding on what is predominantly an anti-social route.
Cons – I feel it is hillier (considerably so) but it was so beautiful I can’t even remember what I would be missing the other way.
My view? Pretty obvious – today’s route wins.
3. Turning left towards Wivelsfield Green just before the Beacon
Pros – Quieter roads with nicer views and the opportunity to chat and take an al fresco urination station if this takes your fancy. The Beacon doesn’t glare at you for such a long time.
Cons – Feels like ‘the wrong way’ just before the big momma. Adds a little extra distance.
My view? I just wasn’t in the best mind-set at this point for pretty views. I’d been seeing the Ditchling signs for a couple of miles and it threw me to turn away from them. Had I felt a little stronger, I would choose this route for certain but as it stood – just take me straight to the agony of the Beacon with no fuss. It’s too close to contemplate anything else.
All in all, cycle buddies #7 did an amazing job. I had a fantastic day, took real motivation from Hannah who has the most determination of anyone I have ever seen and really felt boosted by James’ buoyant positivity. Throw in the fact that I also got to cycle with regular QOM, #1 Cycle Buddy, Emily, seemingly impossibly effortless #2 cycle buddy Ash, rock of support cycle buddy #6 and of course LePlum, who is now famous in my family. Lucy – I think you might have to come and meet everyone, they’ve heard so much about you! It felt almost like a family day out and I absolutely loved it.
I got a few extra tips and insights along the way, too. James let me have a play on his road bike in the car park at the Dog and Duck (a very cycle friendly pub and a great stop off point), which really did give me some idea of how much harder Peggy makes me work. Also, I was complaining about my cleats popping out and Emily reminded me that it should be more of a scraping motion at the bottom, rather than a pull up – like getting chewing gum off your soles.
Needless to say, on the train home I felt exhausted and wanted teleportation to my front door (actually to the flat door, four flights of stairs is hard) BUT when we arrived at Clapham Junction, I happily hopped back on the bike, accompanying Emily as far as Putney and then spending the rest of the journey home loudly telling myself how to improve my pedal stroke, whilst claiming a few PBs in the process.
Maybe I can do this!
Also, my new novelty jersey is awesome.
I was intending to keep this brief and simple as I have to be up early to cycle across London (again) for cycle maintenance part 1. Things don’t always turn out the way we intend – something to remember.
Pictures are all going here because I am really, really sleepy. Night y’all! Safe cycling! DONATE, DONATE, DONATE (hardly subliminal but we try).