We were actually away visiting another member of the family but were constantly thinking about our eldest son, our daughter and her partner who would be taking part in the annual London to Brighton cycle run. This event is in aid of a great charity, The Heart Foundation and usually attracts over 27,000 cyclists.
The route begins in Clapham Common, London, and takes you through Surrey and the South Downs to finish along the Brighton seafront. Sounds easy? The journey is roughly 58 miles travelling through towns, villages, countryside including many steep hills, tight bends and incredible congestion, in parts!
This is a general picture showing how the congestion can force everyone to dismount their bikes and walk!It is reckoned that on average the journey should take about 7 hours. Well, our eldest is extremely fit and cycled with a few of his friends and colleagues from work. Being lads, it became a little bit of a race although the organisers do stress - this is not a race, more of an endurance test but the important thing is to complete the finishing line and collect your medal!
Well, he did it in about 4.5 hours!!!! They set off from Clapham Common around 6.30am. I think he said in the time he was cycling he managed to drink 3 litres of liquid just to stave off dehydration since the sweat was pouring of them in buckets! His personal challenge was to cycle up one of the most grueling hills, of the course, Ditching Hill leading to Ditchling Beacon which is said to be 813 feet high. He actually did it!!!! The reward to be able to freewheel down the other side into Brighton. The last few hundred yards along the sea front caused them to have a last sprint, against the advice of the marshallers, but boys will be boys!! One thing his boss did say..... next time you go to the Company Christmas party you are not to suggest such foolish ideas again!! Who me?
Meanwhile, DD and her partner set off from home in Crawley on their bikes at 05.30 am to a rendezvous with other work colleagues to drop off their bikes and catch a ride in a coach that had been organised to take them to Clapham Common. They were not to start until 09.00 am so it was much more congested. In fact it took them 2 hours to do the first 14 miles just to get out of London! A sense of humour was never far away, thank goodness! A couple of times DD forgot that she had bicycle clips or toe clips on her pedals so whenever she stopped she realised she would keel over - it got to be quiet an art after awhile as she shouted for a friend nearby to straighten her up!!
Her partner suffered a puncture! He was lucky that he only encountered one since many others had multiple punctures. Still, DD had to make the decision, walk with him whilst waiting for help to come (all this was so organised with regular patrols of teams ready to help out) or just to head on out and continue knowing he would eventually catch up? Guess what, she went on!!! Why wait when she could be getting closer to the end?
Again Ditchling was the killer! There was no way, they were going to be able to ride up it so they walked. By now, DD was determined to finish as soon as possible so got into her stride and nothing, but nothing was going to stop her!!!! She made it! Sweat pouring off her, red faced with exertion, she was not looking her best.... but, she only had the down hill freewheel ride and the mile long journey along the sea front to the finish line. Both of them completed the challenge and collected their individual gold (!) medals!!! BRAVO!
All competitors were sponored and although this year's figures have not yet been released, I believe last year over 3 million pounds were collected.
Today, the day after... no side effects. If only slight tingling across the back, arms and hands there is no evidence of a punishing regime of yesterday.
I do admire them all, there is no way, I could envisage doing anything like it but it is a wonderful charity to donate to, so that is my contribution.
I can only say a huge, WELL DONE to all the entrants who participated!