Never really thought about doing a bike ride from London to Brighton before. But as I did not do any charity runs this year, I thought why not sign up for the first London to Bright Night Ride…
I don’t quite remember how this came about, but it was certainly a spontaneous decision. I signed up to this quite early and it was in the back of my mind up until the last week before the ride. That was when I started to panic.
My main concern was riding on the roads, its not something I have ever done before, and certainly not through London. Maybe I should have done some practice rides before the big night. I figured running would suffice.
Lights? err… Few of the last minute items I needed before being able to ride at night. I hoped to get some kick ass lights that will make my path to Brighton look like they were paved with gold. Alas, for those lights, I would have to pay with gold. I had to think of another solution, quick!
Cree LED torches saved my day. My dad had a few of these, but gave them away to stunned plumbers and electrician friends who never seen such a bright torch… So I had to borrow my brothers LED Lenser and strap that to my helmet.
It was a delayed start, I got to Clapham South at about midnight, and there was a sea of red flashing lights – little did I know that this was just the end of the queue. The start line wasn’t for another 50meters or so. Then it hit me how big this event actually was – but I still had no idea there was about 5000 riders that night.
I set off at about 0130, about 30 minutes later than my friends, at this point I did not know if they were still in the queue or not. so I just stayed with the pack. It was a fantastic start; most of it was downhill up until Croydon where there was a mad uphill dash to the first checkpoint.
This is when I realised the choice of bike will haunt me for the entire ride. For some reason, I thought the route would take me through fields, dirt trails and worn B roads. Instead it was all on the roads. So, the mountain bike should have been the last bike of choice. Now that I have done the ride, I didn’t read the advice the BHF gave on their website or do any research and leave my legs and butt to do most of the regretting. The roughest part was probably some potholes… Was fine at the start, but really wished I had invested in some cycling shorts with cushioning in the crotch area and a gel seat mid way through the ride.
The heavy frame meant I had more weight to carry, knobbly tyres has high rolling resistance, smaller wheels meant less speed, high profile tyres absorbed energy and had slightly different gearing? Yea. I has them all…
I had to stop at one point to change the batteries on my helmet light, as a result, I lost the pack and subsequently had to ride the rest of the way alone. There were other riders about sparsely dotted alone the route, but all were taking it in their own stride. Any motivation to keep up with the pack was lost
I had slowed down drastically as my legs started to burn around 0400. Pulling all nighters was a regular pastime but on this occasion, the deal was off. Feeling drowsy and trying to stay on two wheels was certainly a challenge – no different from trying to stand still whilst drunk!
When I crossed the line, I had an overwhelming sense of relief. I had a little cry before calling my friends who had crossed the line 2 hours earlier. Certainly one of the crazier things I have done and I hope to do many more. As I walk along the coast, I wondered what the London to Paris ride would be like…