Variety is the spice of life, and so instead of cycling to Richmond at the crack of dawn before riding circuits with Dan and Warren, I cycled to Brighton with Vera.
We agreed on a slightly later start of 10:00 a.m. thinking that we could easily cover the 95km from our meeting point in 5 hours riding, with an hour or so off the bike, we’d be in Brighton by 16:00. OK so we may take until a little later but not much. An ice cream and a quick dip than back home for tea.
Vera was on her new Surly Long Haul Trucker (in a 46cm frame) with mountain bike wheels and gearing. Last time I'd ridden with Vera she was on a junior Fuji track bike so the Surly might manage the hills with a little more ease.
We set off using the route we both knew down from Tower Bridge down Tooley Street, following the river down through south London before heading towards Catford and on to Bromley. From there we wiggled about a bit (yes this is the actual technical term for it).
The aim was to head for Turners Hill and follow the largely downhill and straight route from there… Up the Ditchling Beacon and descend into Brighton.
I’ve checked the route we used on the magic that is google maps and it is between 101-106km in total and not 95 like we thought. So what’s 10km? Well we went a little off message and added a bit more onto the total journey. Even now though google maps reckons 6 hours or so so we should have been there by 17:00.
The route went well (apart from us not being able to locate the biggest hill on the whole route and accidentally joining the A23 for a 5 mile stretch) and with minimal checking of maps and GPS we made it to Brighton in one piece.
It was however incredibly hot with a sun baking down onto Vera’s cumulative sunburn and my head-to-toe covering of cycling gear to ward off the rays. Mmmmm Toasty! The photo below shows the effect of the sun through the holes in my gloves!)
We got to Brighton in a weird bank of fog (which was obviously hiding the beacon from us) and sat drinking coffee on the beach. Not the refreshing dip we had packed our swimwear for. In fact the sea was too rough for even a paddle. We were exhausted. It had taken nearly 7.5 hours including breaks in the baking sun. We had only eaten a couple of sandwiches and some heat remodeled chocolate bars (Tip: “breakaways” don’t travel well in direct sunlight… Who knew) and flapricots… the result of flapjacks melting into apricots.
The chat was mostly cycling related with time enough to discuss starting a religion of sorts (Motto: You die that’s it deal with it… Have a stick on beard) and Class war in relation to Mumford and sons. All in all a lovely day out.
I got back home at 21:00 to find Sophie had run me a bath and prepared dinner. I was so grateful for that.