The second part of this story is just as important as the first, but for many different reasons. When you finish the London to Brighton bike ride you have to somehow get home. You can pay for a truck and bus service to transport you and your bike back to London, which is the only real option as the train companies won’t allow you to take your bike on the train. Alternatively you cycle back again and I’m not ready for this yet. The bus it is. The last morning bus leaves at 8am and this was not going to be a problem we decided upon the option of the afternoon service as this allows you to enjoy what Brighton has to offer, a beach and bars on a very hot summers day. Tired from the ride this was a good call.
From part 1 you will know of the slightly annoying PA announcer who was only doing his job, but I know, but he managed to remind us of the 3pm bus service will be leaving at 3pm from the finish. It was near the finish, about 500 yards away and when we arrived at 2.45pm we joined the queue to get home, hoping it would be a quick journey as I just wanted to sleep. The bikes were loaded onto a lorry and we boarded the bus.
Whilst this is not the exact bus, as I didn’t take a picture of it and for other reasons, it is good enough to set the scene. Remember Sunday afternoon was the hottest day of the year and back in the 1980’s when I assume the bus we used was built “air con” was just something you would find mentioned by Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses as a new Business venture he was getting involved with, or just a con which he had fallen for! As you can imagine the environment on the bus was about as warm as a volcano when it was erupting and the humidity was around 400%. Moist was an understatement. If I had shower gel I could have taken a shower right there on the seat. Anyway i was tired and the journey wouldn’t be too long so get some sleep and just get on with it. Oh the windows opened about as far as the Royal Mail will allow for a standard small letter today!
We finally leave about 3.20 and the temperature drops to about 40C and I think I fall asleep. I wake up on the motorway in a long line of traffic somewhere Gatwick. Phone battery is running low and the same is occurring on @GrabsNowBlog mobile too. The driver did understand to a degree and eventually he did stop at a BP garage where we got some water and a large Twix, We had every window we could open except for the ones which had been screwed shut. The bus was obviously used on the school run during the week, so I can only assume they were screwed shut to stop the young people throwing things out from the upper deck. We were up stairs too, and I think it was marginally cooler here, but the margins were about the same as a bunch sprint in the tour when Cavendish won his last stage a few days ago – zero! At one point I turn to a fellow rider/passenger and say we need a hashtag for this experience. It now exists and is #stuckonaveryhotbus. If nothing else it should be used to unite those people who were together on “that bus” on “that afternoon” as we all shared “that horrible experience”.
We arrive back at Clapham Common and then pile off the bus, much to the annoyance of the local road users (in cars) who after waiting about 1.1 micro seconds started on the horns to move the bus. The road was blocked with a bus one side and a lorry the other. At this point, however I couldn’t see their point. The bus did move when everyone got off. It was only a few minutes. The lorries also moved, and the annoying thing about this was they contained our bikes so it was another half an hour waiting for them to return, before we could cycle north across London to get the train home. At this point I think I had lost more weight on the journey back to London than on the ride itself. If only the journey had taken 4h 38 minutes. It certainly felt longer although in reality it was about 3 hours.
Eventually the bikes were back in our possession and we started the ride back on the cycle lanes of London to the station north of the river. Luck would have it the train was there and we only had about a 5 minute wait. At last the final leg of the journey was here, well apart from the 3 miles cycle from the station to the house but that was the easy bit.
I hope you have enjoyed both parts of the 4 hours 38 minute story which is just my reflection of the experience. I have no doubt edited bits as my memory struggles to remember them and have not been as close to the mark as I could have been. Although saying that the ride was excellent, the travel back was very mush a chore.