Last night, me and my mate Gilly took part in a London to Brighton ride for the Martlets Hospice in Hove. The event is organised by FNRTTC ( Friday Night Ride to the Coast). More info on FNRTTC and their upcoming events can be found here:
I rode my Specialized Tricross which has strange features like drop handlebars, yellow bar tape, mudguards and 23mm tyres. It could be classified as a road bike.
The meet up and sign on took place in a car park near Victoria and there was a buzzing atmosphere, plenty of bike & light fettling and news that the forecast was the best that the FNRTTC lot had had in the 6 years they’ve been organising events.
At midnight, the main group set off to a chorus of bleeps from GPS’s and lit by all manner of bike lights. Almost immediately we were crossing Chelsea bridge and passing Battersea power station and heading towards Clapham Common, Tooting and Mitcham. The first 7 or so miles through South London were ridden as a group at a controlled (i.e. slow-ish) pace.
It was entertaining to see what the local drunks made of a large group of cyclists riding through the night. There was some genuine interest in what, why & where but more generally just witty (?) banter or plain and simple abuse. There was also trouble outside a pub on route and some of the riders helped to restrain the main protagonist which was all slightly surreal.
The first half of the route was different to the BHF event. Near Coulsden, we had the first climb of the night and I fast ran out of gears. This section also saw the start of the mist which lasted for the rest of the ride! The first big down involved a blast (or do I mean a carefully controlled H&S conscious descent) down Reigate hill.
After Reigate, we took the rather appropriately named Lonesome Lane towards Horley which was really fast and smooth. It was then onto the wonderfully dubbed “Horley Badlands” which changed from road, to track to field with bumps and holes a plenty. My Hope light finally got “turned up to 11” (ok it was setting 3 but that doesn’t work) on this section which worked a treat. This took us towards Copthorne and the all important first refreshment stop.
If you are going to puncture on an event it’s probably best that it happens 2 minutes and a gingerly ride from a sports hall laden with sandwiches, crisps, cake, fruit and tea & coffee. This was a very welcome sight and a great effort from the Martlett’s team. By 3am, the puncture was fixed, we were fed and watered and back on the bikes and heading for home
The route was now more familiar (Turners Hill, Ardingly, Lindfield & Wivelsfield) or would have been if you’d had any peripheral vision and it wasn’t rather misty. By this time Gilly and I were sharing the hard work and recovery by taking turns at the front and in the slipstream. Tiredness only really seemed to affect us when there wasn’t a rear light in the distance to chase down.
By now, the mind was playing funny games as at times it was difficult to work out if the roads were climbing, flat or dropping away and to judge how fast we were going. Gilly deserves a mention for playing it safe on Slugwash Lane, in particular the sharp and off-camber right-hander that has claimed many a victim on BHF rides.
All this led us to Ditchling and the foot of the Downs. Gilly said afterwards that I put in a concerted period of recovery that lasted for a whole 250 meters before the climb itself started. I ran out of gears by the second corner and it took every effort from the pair of us to reach the “Horses” warning sign that signals that the climb is almost over. I stopped at the top to text Clare whilst Gilly tried hard to not throw up. A blast down Ditchling Road took us back to the seafront and the GPS was stopped at 4:52 am with the seafront still in complete darkness.
After a classic recovery meal (Bacon and Egg bap and cup of tea) and one of the worst leg cramps I’ve ever suffered, we were back on the bikes for a slow ride back to Patcham. Finally, daylight was starting to break.
I love my ride stats, so here goes:
- Distance: 57.14 miles
- Elevation gain: 2,698 ft
- Elapsed time: 4:54:33
- Moving time: 3:56:48
- Average moving speed: 14.5 mph
- Top speed: 38.1 mph
- Number of breakfasts: 2 (3am and 5am)
I would definitely recommend the event and will do it again. The FNRTTC team deserve a mention for the great organisation and a big thanks to all the marshals etc that made it happen.
Finally, I hope the event raised a lot of well needed revenue for the Martlets Hospice. More info on their work here: