London to Hastings Bike Ride 2011

On Sunday 28th August I took part in the second London to Hastings Bike Ride for the British Heart Foundation.

Last years ride was the toughest ride I'd ridden at the time and I vowed never to do it again. So why did I change my mind? We'll I knew that I would get faster, fitter and stronger after another year. The ride was a little bit of a shock as, on the day, they changed the route and increased the distance from 61 to 70 miles. After me and other riders giving feedback to the BHF, they decided to keep the ride the same 70 mile route and market it as a very tough ride.

About a week before the ride, the BHF emailed me with one of their marketing type emailed suggesting I sign up for the ride. Although I had signed up for the ride, I noticed the description of the ride mentioned towns that weren't on last years ride. After clicking the link in the email it was clear that the route had changed. No idea why.

So, yesterday I woke up at 5am got dressed into my cycling gear, had two bowls of porridge for breakfast and got my bike into the car. I drove to my friend Phil's house in Hastings where he had arranged for his friend Paul to drive us both to Crystal Palace for the start of the ride. We arrived in plenty of time for the 8am start. I got my bike out of the car and noticed how cold it was. Much colder than it was when I left the house at 5.30am.

Me at the start
Within a few minutes of getting out of the car a rider came up to me and asked if I was Toby. He said he noticed it was me because he spotted my bike. He said he'd been following my blog. I forgot to ask his name. So, if you were that rider and read this, please comment and say hi.

I'd arranged to meet Les, the moonwalking bear at the start as we'd last met back in January. 10 minutes before our start time I text him to see if he was on his way as I thought he should be there already. By 8am I text him to let him know I had to be off and couldn't wait any longer.

We lined up at the start and got a copy of the route map. Within a few moments we were off.

The route was clear that it had changed from last year. The biggest change compared to last year was that the last 25 miles were downhill or flat. I was a little disappointed. The ride was the same as last years for about 30 miles but that's when it changed.

There was one hill fairly early on that I remembered well from last year. It started of steady but suddenly ramps up to 25% just before the road junction. I remember it well because when I got off my bike last year when I could go no further my heart rate monitor said I hit max and was beeping at me. Most people were walking it. However, this year I got up it no problems at all. Most people were still walking up the last bit this year including my mate Phil.

Just before the first official rest stop I got a puncture. There was no impact and the tyre seems to be deflating slowly. I turned the bike upside down whipped the front inner tube out and replaced it with a new one. Not long after I saw the sign for the first refreshment stop. The first refreshment stop was just as ambiguously signed as last year and I pulled over to check the map. As I did so I could hear the tyre hissing. Upon inspection I had made a schoolboy error and forgotten to check the tyre for shrapnel. There was a shard of glass in the tyre. I decided to patch the tube this time even though I had another spare. Once this was fixed I went over to the pub and used the toilet before moving on. At this point Phil was really taking the mickey out of me.

The rest of the ride was fairly standard apart from Phil struggling with cramp from about half way. My calves were feeling a little tight and heavy about 40 miles in but I think that was down to lack of fluids.

Once we got to the final 10 miles, the ride followed close to the sea and changed direction to due east. The wind was a decent speed and behind us so we had good tail wind. I was managing 25 mph but Phil couldn't. I kept sprinting on in a few mile bursts and waiting for Phil to catch up. We rode together toward the finish line where our families were waiting for us.

We then rode a mile back to Phil's house where we had a nice BBQ. A great end to a proper ride.
Me and Phil at the finish


  1. Well done, great stuff. must have been nice seeing the improvements on your fitness compared to last years ride.

  2. hi Toby
    good to see you made it for the second year.
    I was that rider who spoke to you in the morning,
    i did a time of 5 and a half hours i was very pleased with that,ive found cycling very addictive and will be doing the Newforest ride on the 18th September its 44 miles not as hard but some great scenery

    talk to you soon

  3. Great effort Toby. Nice to know I haven't been the only person with a visit from the puncture fairy recently, too!

  4. Matt - It is good to see the difference. Especially when I managed to get up the only hill I couldn't last year and I didn't even have as low a gear on this bike.

    Gary - Thanks for coming and saying hi and for posting on here too. Might see you on a ride soon.

    Phill - Cheers. Hope I don't get another puncture for a while though!


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