The London to Brighton Bike Ride 2010

Yesterday I took part in the London to Brighton Bike Ride. It was also Father's Day. I had to be up at 4.30am leaving the house by 5am to get to Bexhill by 5.30. A colleague of mine, who was supposed to do the ride instead of me, drove me and my team mate (another colleague) to London.

We arrived about 7.25, riding the last little bit to the starting point at Clapham Common. There I met Les (the Moonwalking Bear, to his cycling buddies). Once I'd had a wee, we lined up at the gates for our 8am start time and continued to chat and look at all the bike porn on the common.

Just after 8am, I bid farewell to Les, and my team mate Darren and I went through the gate and headed to the start line. I started my GPS as we crossed the line at 8.09am.

Les (the Moonwalking Bear)It was quite cold and there was no sign of any sunshine. Not a bad thing, but in just a t-shirt, and with zero miles so far, I was freezing. The ride started off well with us going downhill almost straight away. The downside was, it was even colder with the cold air!

As the ride progressed the roads were empty but with the volume of cyclists the congestion was high and therefore our average speed was very low.

I had a fuelling strategy prescribed by my triathlete colleague, but because of the lack of pace and temperature I needed another wee quite soon. We made our first stop after just 10 miles. Darren had got to the stop first so I spent a few minutes trying to find him.

Once we carried on the pace picked up. However, the hills were a little disappointing as each one became gridlocked. We either had to walk up the first half and ride the second, or ride up the first half and walk up the second. I would have liked the challenge of being able to get to the top of each hill but it was not to be. The only uncongested hill was that to Haywards Heath, but that was really more of a steep ascent.

Along the route the congestion continued and on most descents I was braking regularly as it was difficult to get past people riding slower. I was finding the pace good and was impressed with my riding, rarely bothered about my legs.

I got split up from Darren after about 20 miles but didn't worry as we'd discussed what we'd do beforehand if this happened. He would stop at a refreshment point and wait. In practice he got quite a bit ahead of me and each time I got to where he said he was, he moved on. This did not deter me and I just carried on, only stopping to fuel up and re-adjust myself as necessary.

With so little time for stops along the way I felt incredibly good. I was in the zone.

The final hill on the ride is Ditchling Beacon. It's the steepest hill on the ride with a climb of almost 500ft over almost 1,500 metres. The first part of the ascent was at walking pace due to a rider collapsing while attempting the climb minutes before I got there. I later found out that the rider later died (RIP).

As soon as I could get on the bike, I did. I rode at a slow pace in the lowest two gears. The hill is not straight up and you can't see all the road ahead. I had no idea when it would end. I kept going towards the top but after 900 metres of climbing I had to stop, just 400m from the top. I was puffing and panting and overheating. I was so hot I just had to stop riding. My heart rate was at 172bpm and had no way of drinking whilst riding. I walked the bike to the top of the hill where I started coughing (which I did after every climb due to my, er, cough). I could see the sea in the distance and knew Brighton was not that far away. After a 5 minute break I continued.

There was plenty of steady but fast downhill into the city of Brighton before riding the flat main road towards the pier. The congestion due to bikes and cars was bad. I found it quicker to ride around the cars than ride in the dedicated coned off lane for cyclists. As I got to the last few hundred metres before the pier, the marshalls were congratulating us and clapping. I had to stop at the roundabout before the pier, the last stop before the finish line.

The marshalls stopped the traffic and let us go, I passed the pier to my right and headed onto Madeira Drive. As I caught sight of the finish line ahead of me, I saw my wife and two boys to the right of me behind the barriers, holding up a banner they had made me for Father's Day. I waved as I rode past and got all emotional riding towards the finish line. The crowd were all clapping and cheering as me and the other riders rode towards the finish line. I couldn't actually ride along the finish line due to the sheer number of riders finishing at the same time. I walked across the line straddling my bike where I was handed a medal and a bottle of water.

I met my team mate and family and had my picture taken with him wearing our medals. I hugged my wife and kids before walking to the car for the journey home.

As it happens I wasn't as tired as I thought I would be and am thinking about my next long ride!

Total Distance 53.9 miles
Total Time 6h21m
Riding Time 5h18m
Average Speed 10.1mph


  1. Well done Toby and Darren, Toby you have come so far in such a short time mate incredible achievement.

    Was good meeting up with you yesterday instead of in cyberspace.

  2. Fair play to ya mate - thats an awesome achievement!

  3. Concragulations.

    I rode LTB many years ago. The fact that everyone was walking up every slight little incline came as something of a shock to me. Its nice to know nothings changed.

  4. Brilliant stuff, very well done to you and your mate.

    Cant believe the amount of people that were riding / walking it, looks chaos!

  5. Cheers for the comments guys.

    I suppose you expect it might be busy with 27,000 riders taking part. Next time I'll try and get a 6am slot so I can avoid as much congestion.

  6. Well done Toby.

    Don't be fooled: I got a 0700 start time and we still ended up on a sponsored walk soon after the M25, and getting out of London was a leisurely 9 mph average (not through choice).

  7. At least if I choose the earliest slot possible, I've got less chance of being held up by slower riders as the ride goes on.


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