This weekend I headed down to Brighton with some of the London Brompton Club.
I'd offered this ride to some of my work colleagues as we did this ride last year and it was a great ride, thanks to David's excellent navigating skills, and a couple decided to come along this weekend. I also offered it to the LBC as well, though I was aware that this would clash with the Dunwhich Dynamo that was being ridden that evening. In the end, there were three from the Brompton Club that turned up - Anne and David and Tom, who I hadn't met before but it was nice to meet. From work, my mate Dan ended up coming along - slightly nervous as he hadn't done a long distance ride for quite some time. I did feel that perhaps I was the odd one out - I was the only one riding a Brompton, everyone else was on full size bikes!
We met up at Richmond Costa where the weather was pretty good - sunny and not quite as warm as it had been at the start of the week. However, it was reasonably windy with the wind coming from the South that would make life difficult for the ride down. Yet, we left in good spirits.
We carried on and got to Headley where we stopped at the village hall and stores for a quick ice cream and drink.
Once we got past Dorking, we ran in to trouble. Dan had been struggling with a bit with some of the hills prior to this point and unfortunately we left him behind slightly as we climbed the hill. As we got to the top and started down the otherside, I got a text that he'd punctured. I rode back to meet him as he'd spoken to me the day before and said he'd left his pump in Scotland. I managed to fix the puncture and inflate the wheel - it seems my purchase of a Topeak Mini Morph at the end of last year was a good one. But after it was fixed, Dan decided to leave us and head back to Dorking station.
At that point, I rushed to catch up with the others, who had carried on to Newdigate where we would be eating lunch. It turns out I wasn't that far behind the others and I got to the pub about ten minutes after them.
After lunch, we carried on. The road continued towards the big finale at the end of the road, Devils Dyke. The hill appeared on the horizon and slowly grew in size…
I been perhaps struggling a bit up until now - the final stretch before Devils Dyke was a killer last year and was a drag this time around as well - perhaps the heat had been getting to me both times at this point. However, with Devils Dyke coming up rapidly, I found my second wind - I didn't want to be beaten by it. Last year, I had to put a foot down about halfway up where you have to turn right off the main road and up towards the golf course. This time, there were no cars coming and so I was able to make the turn and carry on up the hill. And finally reached the summit with no foot down.
And with that, we headed down into Brighton. The ride down as ever was pretty quick and before we knew it, we were at the seafront. We didn't wait around and we headed directly to the station, as all of us (with the exception of me) had booked tickets. I made the mistake of trusting to my annual Gold card for travel discount and ended up paying over double what both Anne and David had paid for both tickets! Perhaps I should consider pre-purchasing next time!
Managing to secure a bike spot on the train, we headed back to Clapham where we parted ways. I considered cycling to Wimbledon but I'd had enough for the day, so I got the train back to Wimbledon. And with that, another London to Brighton had been completed.