A week has now flown by since the completion of this years challenge and it has taken me that long to put finger to keyboard. That’s more a reflection on how busy my week has been than on how buzzing I felt after the ride. I was itching to put my thoughts down after the ride but its taken me until now to find the time. As I said last week, September is crazy busy and more evidence of that has been in how totally disorganised I have been. For starters the plan last weekend was thrown into complete disarray by the fact that my memory failed me resulting in a smallish (20 miles) detour en route to London to collect a briefcase that I stupidly left in a hotel after a Saturday morning meeting. That detour made us a bit late for our carb loading pre ride pasta dinner, but once we arrived dinner was great.
So Sunday morning was my seventh consecutive 5am start of the week as we wanted to make an early start and beat the crowds to Brighton. An athletes breakfast of Tea, Porridge and Honey, then pockets stuffed full of jelly beans and we were off warming up with a leisurely cycle from little Bro’s flat to the start on Clapham Common.
Its surprising how quickly we were out of London and wending our way toward the coast. The miles racked up fairly uneventfully and we made it most of the way without mishap. One of our group added a few unintentional miles due to a signage malfunction and I managed to have an unscheduled dismount (AKA an SPD Incident) but thankfully out of sight of anyone.
A bit like last years swim it’s been both a challenge and a learning experience for me. Without fail every single (cycling) person I mentioned the challenge to responded immediately with a reference to Ditching Beacon and now I know why. About 8 miles before you get to Brighton (so when your legs have already done about 45 miles) you are confronted with the mother of all climbs to the top of the south Downs. Admittedly its all downhill from there but Ditching is a mile long climb that tests you to the limit (or in mine and many other cases, just beyond it). I desperately wanted to stay on my bike for the whole climb but a hundred yards or so from the summit I had to resort to Shanks’ pony and walk the last stretch. If I’d listened to my cycle buddy’s advice (ride with your legs not your eyes) perhaps I’d have made it, but after rounding bend after bend and every time hoping to be at the top, that last bend defeated me. The view from the top was spectacular and helped enormously by the knowledge that it was all (literally) downhill from here. It was so downhill that my route tracker recorded a max speed of 44 mph and we even managed to set off one of those “slow down” roadside signs. And all of a sudden we were on Brighton seafront. Job done, Challenge for 2016 completed.