The London to Hastings Bike Ride 2010

Yesterday I took part in the inaugural London to Hastings bike ride in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

The preparation for the ride started badly on Saturday when I damaged the rear inner-tube whilst checking tyre pressures. I pumped up the rear tyre but couldn't get the pump off and pulled too hard on the stem which tore the tube where it meets the stem. The tyre deflated instantly and I had to replace the tube.

Later that day I got a call from my friend to say that his bike had a puncture and he didn't have a spare tube. I didn't have a presta valve one for him and the shops had shut so we decided to see if we could get it done at the start.

Me and Richard just before starting the London to Hastings
At 4.30 my alarm went off and I got up and got the bike and my bag into the car. Just after 5am my friend, Richard, and ride partner for the day arrived at my house and we drove to my brothers house where he would give us a lift with our bikes to Crystal Palace.

We arrived at the start in plenty of time, an hour before we could start. We found a bike mechanic and my friend got a new inner tube fitted.

Shortly after, Les (the moon walking bear) turned up. We chatted for a bit before starting the ride at 8.01am.

The ride got off to a good start. The weather was dry but a bit cold. The roads were quiet and the terrain was easy.

The gentle ascents and smooth, short down hill sections were fast in London but as soon as we were out of London, the hills came thick and fast.

My friend was struggling to keep pace with me on his mountain bike on both the up the hills and down. Many times I either waited at the top of the hills or slowed down to let him catch up. We got separated for a bit when I told him to carry on without me as I stretched my tightening hamstring. We both missed the first refreshment stop and met up again half way between the next stop.

The hill that no one seemed
to be able to get up
We then came across a sign that said 50 miles to go - that was after 20 miles. That can't be right? The ride is 61 miles, not 70.

We made it to the second rest stop which happened to be after a killer of a hill. My friend was in agony. His muscles were tight and hurting and he thought he might not be able to continue. I gave him tips on stretching, riding style and nutrition. After about 15 minutes we continued and he stopped at the next shop for some snacks.

He suggested that rather than me constantly slowing down for him, that I continue riding at my pace and we meet up at each rest stop. This worked well as I could push on but the hills were killing me.

The hills were relentless. After every ascent I either stopped on the short flats to recover where necessary or recovered on the descents. Most of the descents were over so quickly and this got worse the further into the ride we went.

At the third official stop (the second we found) we still didn't know if the ride was now 70 miles and not 61, even though the signs seemed to suggest it. My friend was doing better than expected arriving only 10-15 minutes after me.

After more killer hills we hit the most killer hill of all. 800 ft of climbing over 2 miles! The next rest stop came shortly after and it was well needed. It was at this stage, 55 miles in that we realised the ride was definitely 70 miles in total. The route had been altered due to road works. 9 extra miles of serious hills was taking the piss!

The last 15 miles were the hardest. Every steep hill was followed by a steep but short ascent. The countdown mile markers started to appear and I was hurting. As the ride had gone on my hamstring was hurting up the steep hills and the muscles in my shoulders and neck were really tight and painful.

With the finish being at the seafront in Hastings, the last mile was totally flat and I rode as fast as possible I couldn't wait to finish. People were clapping as I approached the finish and my wife and two kids were there to meet me. I crossed the finish line just before it started to rain. My friend crossed the line 5 minutes later. We were both in agony vowing never to do this ride again! It made the London to Brighton seem like a leisurely afternoon ride.

Stats for the day
70.29 miles ridden
6,289 ft elevation gain
5 hours 33 minutes and 10 seconds in the saddle
12.7 mph average speed
38.5 mph maximum speed
8 hours 11 minutes to get to Hastings
3,500ml of fluid drunk
6,331 calories burned (not sure if this is accurate)
1,826 calories of energy products consumed which contained;
394.3g of carbs and;
232.4g of sugars


  1. Have you compared you (in today's photo) to you in your profile picture!!

    Its amazing you look healthier and a lot thinner...

    Well done...and Well done of the London to Hastings ride

  2. You could have smiled for your bloody photo!

  3. Ohhh really must update the link to my blog...and some of the others....

  4. John - It's a big difference to what I was 6 months ago.

    I've updated the blogroll now.

    Joby - It was starting to rain and the wife couldn't use the camera on the phone. I probably did smile moment before she actually took the picture.

  5. 6,289ft! That is crazy, and kinda nice to know this number as an achievement.

    It was a real tough route, but I found it rewarding.

    They had a 70 mile marker at the start when I turned up at 9:30, this was the first train from Hastings into the event!

    Here is my account of the day just to share..

  6. Well done Toby must say that sounds a killer extra 9 miles :-( just for good measure.

    Ope the hamstring shoulder and neck is better today mate.

    Good to meet up with you again :-) see you in october

  7. Well done. I did it bike is in the sea now!!

  8. Well done!

    I think we've all been there with the inner tubes / valve.

    It normally happens to me when i'm rushing to mend a punture by the side of the road before I freeze to death.

  9. Is the full route mapped out anywhere online?

  10. I recorded the route with my iPhone

    Was definitely a lot more tough than I was expecting, London to Brighton was a breeze in comparison

  11. Thanks for all your comments guys. I've added the route detail to the blog post so people can see the hills.

  12. Interesting that your GPS trace has it as +5532ft, using that site mine says +3813ft

  13. also did this on Sunday, wow , what a course! Glad I didn't walk up any of the hills, but 10 miles from the finish I seriously thought about it. Enjoyed the challange but I could see alot of people weren't prepared for this type of course.

  14. Well done Toby im in awe
    congratulations mate,very inspiring.

  15. i will be doing the ride in 2011 and expect to be under 4hrs

  16. I will be doing the event in 2011 too. I'm sure it's possible to do a sub 4 hour time but I don't think I could manage it.

  17. i will be doing the event in 2011 for the first time
    and from what i`ve read about last years riders congratulations mate. not sure what ive let myself in for.

  18. I'm lighter fitter and stronger than I was last year and have many months to improve more but it will still be tough! Good luck Gary.

  19. i am coming over from australia to do this ride and hill train all the time having ridden up hills that are 20% can anyone tell me if there is a 25% hill in this ride?

  20. I'm pretty sure there was a 25% but it was a fairly short one and early on.

  21. are you doing the London to Brighton night ride


  22. I cycle the roads in the early 1/4 of this ride regulary. There is a 25% hill on Downe Road/Cudham Hill. As Toby Field said it is short, maybe 150-200m at most. The problem is that there's a junction with a busier road at the top, it has poor visibility to the left. If you're wearing cleats then be ready to release them near the top. Probably safer to dismount and cross the road, you'll have ridden the hill so no shame in being careful and getting off the bike. Enjoy!

  23. Correction, I meant Downe Road/Church Hill. The tricky junction is between Church Hill and Cudham Lane.,0.070899&spn=0.001137,0.002685&t=h&z=19&vpsrc=6&layer=c&cbll=51.320415,0.070874&panoid=fyh1-EjgMigNmVaZYSoHgQ&cbp=12,351.21,,0,5.84


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