Sunday, June 18, 2006

London to Brighton (sans knobblies)

Rob - Canondale F1000 (with new Avid disc on front and baldy tyres)
Les - Specialized Hardrock (slicks)
Mark - Specialized Hardrock (slicks)
Dave (Dozer) - Raleigh Pioneer (hybrid?), lump of junk according to some, but it rooooooles a lot better than the Enduro on the road!!!!!

The Ride
I checked the weather forecast in the morning, it was promising to be a hot one (up to 28C) with no rain, which meant the clothing selection was easy (i.e. didn't bother with the water proofs or extra top like 2 years ago!) but decided to take extra water! It was another early start, leaving the house at 5.30 to cycle to Flitwick (2 miles), which is due East into the low sun. 'Sun glasses!' quick U turn to get them out of the car.
There were already a few cyclists on the train. The rest of the team (Rob, Les & Mark) got on the train at Leagrave (2 stops down). Unfortunately this early train stops at every station into London so takes a while to get there. There was the usual stacking of bikes everywhere and anywhere, it gets quite comical. This year we got off the train at the correct station (Blackfriars) and a gentle 5 mile cycle to the start at Clapham common. Well for Mark and myself at least, the other 2 set off at a quick pace and soon left us, which meant guessing at a few roundabouts and following cars with the bikes on the back, to be fair to Rob he did turn round and come looking for us.
We got to the start at about 7:30 (start time 8) and got in one of the queues. On the ride to the start I noticed my saddle had slipped down a few inches (much harder to pedal, I had adjusted it 2 days earlier), so a quick trip to the Halfords tent to get a wrench and adjust the saddle (not a sophisticated bike with quick release or anything!). With getting there early we were towards to the front of our queue and managed to start more or less on time 8.05 ish.
The first 10 miles through London were very busy and slow. Things thinned out a little after this, but still big delays at the marshalled road junctions and lights. It was a mixture of sun and overcast conditions, everyone on the ride was in good humour, even with the mixed abilities which means 56 miles of weaving in and out of each other. Unfortunately there seemed to be a lot more accidents this year with the ambulances and paramedics keeping busy, mainly on the downhill sections. There must have been a bad one somewhere between the 10 - 15 miles mark as the whole ride came to a halt for 20?? mins. We were all off the bikes just waiting. It went on that long, that the ones at the front started off a few Mexican waves! I do hope no one was seriously hurt, quite a few of the people on the road were not wearing helmets!!!
We stopped for lunch/a rest after about 33 miles at our usual spot, which was needed as I was starting to feel tired and in need of a walk and sugar intake (cereal bars). It's too hard to cycle together in all the traffic so this allowed us all to meet up, Rob (10:30) was miles ahead as usual, Les (10:40) in front of me somewhere and poor old Mark had dropped off the pace, having problems with his knee and had to stop and change to normal pedals. The sun came out for a short period, while we were sat there which was nice. After a nice break we hit the road again at about 11:45.
The rest of the ride was very much the same, although the crowd thinned out and I could get into my own rhythm and enjoyed the 2nd half much more than the first. There is a big hill (600 foot climb) to go up, about 8 miles outside of Brighton and the mood noticeably changed leading up to this, everyone went quiet and slowed down! To make matters worse the sun had just come out again and it was warming up. It was a long slog up the hill but I felt OK, apart from the over heating and the heavy breathing. I actually over took a few people on bikes, along with the hundreds walking up, not that I was going that much faster!
It was a nice gentle ride down hill towards Brighton, Les and myself were still more or less together at this point and had a 5 min break. Most people stop at the top, it's much better to ride down for 5 mins and let the wind cool you down!!!
There is a steep downhill section on the outskirts of Brighton, but with one lane coned off and a few cyclist on the road I only managed to get up to 47 mph this year, 51.1 last time! (Rob managed 49.7mph). Brighton was the usual battle through all the traffic, but it was nice finishing along side one of our own riders, even if this did mean playing chicken with on coming vehicles to keep up with Les!

Elapsed time approx 5:20, actual cycling time 3:55, just over 56 miles. Elapsed time slightly slower but cycling slightly quicker than last time (traffic jams!). Dehydration was a slight concern, I got through 4 litres of water while cycling and another 1/2 litre just afterwards and still couldn't manage a decent pee! I felt a headache coming on, on the train home, so drank another 1.5 litres on the train which seemed to do the trick, I dare say there were a few other riders a lot worse looking at the amount of water they were carrying.
I hope to raise just over £270 (will be over £300 with the gift aid added in) for the British Heart foundation.

The Return Home
Les' s family had gone down the night before and stayed over night so they could take the bikes back on the car (you can not take them back on the train, as a few shocked people found out!! :-), so the Hayne's were all waiting at the finish line, cheering.
After some health food from the peer (something with salt n vinegar on!), we went back to the multi-storey car park with Les, Jan (Mrs Les) and kids to get the Nova (not the biggest car I know). We had another nice break sitting around in the sun, while waiting for the parking attendant to fix the pay machine that had eaten the parking ticket (no salt n vinegar!). After a little bit of faffing around to get all 4 bikes on the roof (width is important, not just length!). We waved goodbye to the Haynes and our bikes, knowing we would beat them home on the train, as the traffic getting out of Brighton is terrible, for some reason? :-) The station was only a 10 min walk away and we had chance to buy some drinks (no alcohol, it's not a Friday!) at the station before getting on the train. The train was packed and not with cyclists, unless they had all changed and showered. We ended up sitting on the floor, just outside the 1st class section (that only had 2 people in it!), don't think they would have been happy with 3 smelly blokes gate crashing! The good news is that every time the train pulled in to the stations, someone would open the door for us and let fresh air in, they would then mumble something (sorry I can't understand what you Southerners are saying!) and walk to another doorway that was not blocked! We had a few slow sections due to track work going on (I did see people working!!), but the train ride home was quite pleasant. Although to our horror, Les had beaten us!!!


Farqui said...

Well done boys, it almost sounds like you enjoyed your kn@bless fun...

With the large number of cyclists and "incidents" I guess comparing times to previous years is pointless. It's not a race, is it Rob ? ;-)

So what's the fund raising total from the Westoning posse ?

Dan Howell said...

Aye, well done guys!

Rob said...

Not sure on Total yet but I guess about £800 for the BHF.

My time (not racing I wouldn't do that) thanks to my super quick hardtail was about 3 1/2 hrs riding which is quicker than my previous best. Funnily enough I didn't go for a time at all, I slept very badly the night before and so just went for a solid steady pain free pace. This turned out to be quicker than going for it!

The overall time was a little longer but largely speaking that was due to a long stop at the Gardeners Arms (75mins) sadly without beer. We were able to sort Marks Cleaps and he put a support bandage on his very sore knee. I think we've all been there and can sympathise with how much that hurts, especially when it comes on before half way and has to be endured up both Turners Hill and Ditchling Beacon.

Sadly for many motorists they didn't close the roads this year, those 4 wheel victims that got stuck in the middle must have regretted straying near 27000 cyclists!!

Volunteers for next year? We'll have a priority entry next time so should be able to get as many places as needed. Let me know if you want to join in.

dozer said...

just realised you made no comment about how you got on with the gear changing? ie not the Low Normal.

Farqui said...

How'd the GPS route from Blackfriars to Clapham Common work out ?

Rob said...

High Normal gears are OK on the road and I just used the same rule as I teach littl'uns and novices, finger fast Thummmeasier!!

Still reckon you'd have to be a freak to not prefer Low Normal, it's far superior.

GPS route was spot on ta.

Farqui said...

Nope sorry Rob but you're wrong, so wrong and I thunk if you look underneath you're silk lined cloud that you'll see LN are for XC racers who ride in East Anglia and roadies.

However, pukka MTBers often NEED to dump a bunch a gears all at once for that surprise, slippery climb that suddenly appeared. Rather than click, click, aw bugger I've stopped :x

Ah what the hell, if you like it then fine. Just remember, I've tried it off road and hated it. On road it's ok and I can see XC racers likin' it but I still ain't never gonna use it.

Even the bigS have backed away from it after punters AND manufacturer's started fitting SRAM instead.

***sits back and waits for Rob's "mechanical discussion"***