Sunday 19th June 2011 at about 5.30am. Team Cyclescheme sat drowsily munching croissants and sipping cups of tea in a collective hush. Bread silently wound around the industrial toaster in the centre of the room, then flew out the bottom as toast with a satisfying ‘phut’ – breakfast had never been served this early in the hotel before. The sheer scale of the 54-mile cycle ride (just shy of 87 km, or 580 football fields, if that helps) was just starting to sink in.
Our trusty bike mechanic busily carried out last minute checks to the bikes; cleaning, oiling and adjusting things left right and centre. A vat of energy drink was prepared and mixed with expert precision – it’s an odd colour but apparently does the trick! The buzz in the hotel was palpable. Droves of Lycra-clad people were huddled around their bikes, gingerly pinning on their rider numbers and warming themselves up. There was a sense of excitement, and a little foreboding, in the air.
We had travelled up from Cyclescheme HQ in Bath the day before. A van full of bikes, a minibus full of eager cyclists and enough energy bars to keep everyone going for the next 6-months. We were prepared. Our team consisted of a diverse range of cyclists. From those who have cycled all their lives (some even professionally) through to the few of us who cycle just for fun and to commute to work. The combined experience of our team made us confident (along with our after work training sessions) that we were ready for this task and, 54 miles later, we were right.
At about 6.45am the team were ready. Fully prepared, plied with energy bars and rearing to go, the team set off into the morning sun heading for Clapham Common for the 7.30am start. Our support team (stocked up with food, spare innertubes and a few litres of water) headed off to follow the route as closely as possible down to Brighton.
At roughly 10.30am the team arrived at The Duke’s Head pub in East Grinstead. It’s a perfect spot right by the route (and just about halfway down to Brighton). As scores of cyclists came speeding past us, the team sat taking a well-earned break. The pub very kindly brought us out drinks and bacon sarnies for those who could stomach them – they must make a great passing trade on days like this! After a few quick refills of energy drink the team were ready to set off again. Roughly 25 miles down, 29 to go.
As we got closer to Brighton (the weather still managing to hold up rather nicely) the ride began to take it’s toll. As the support team struggled to get into Brighton (trying many different routes but constantly being met with a cavalcade of cars) the team on two-wheels climbed the famed ‘Ditchling Beacon’ with impressive vigour - no mean feat considering it’s the third-highest point on the South Downs.
The team triumphantly rode onto Madeira Drive on Brighton Seafront at around 1.30pm having covered 54 miles and burnt roughly 5,500 calories. A great sense of jubilation filled the air as thousands of cyclists were gathered round congratulating each other. Swarms of spectators looked on and cheered as more and more cyclists glided through the finish line - a fantastic achievement for everyone that took part and all for a very worthy cause. Great stuff!
A celebratory pint and roast dinner happily sated our team giving us that last boost of energy for the long journey home. We'd covered an impressive 330 miles in just over 24 hours (albeit 276 of them by car), so the journey home was a quiet one.
For those who love their facts and figures, below are our stats from the day:
Congratulations to everyone that took part, and we hope you all enjoyed the ride as much as we did. If you have any photos, videos or just want to share your experiences please add your comments below.
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