l2b

A massive thank you – to everyone who has donated

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Efforts

As you know last weekend I completed the London to brighton night ride in 4 hours 38 minutes. When I crossed the start line at the weekend I was happy to have just beaten my fundrasing target of £250 so this job was done. This meant one part of the evening was a success and I just need to focus on the ride ahead. I always new there would be some people who wanted to wait until after I had completed the ride before they donated and this is to be expected. However I didn’t bank on the massive response from those who I work with, and have other involement with through youth football etc. I have to say it is very humbling. As the graphic shows I have well and truly smashed my fundrasing target and am now hoping I can climb over £500 doubleing my initial target. On the day the Tour de France has a double clim of Alpe D’Huez on stage 18 I am rather hoping I can achieve my own double, and reach £500.

My page is still open for those people who have not yet got around to making a donation. the page is here

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The next challenge is….?

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The legs have recovered, although I still sleep like a baby, but again like last year I am now thinking about the next challenge. The third London to Brighton night ride is very much on as I still have unfinished business with this ride. Without light gate as mentioned in 4 hours 38 minutes (part 1) @GrabsNowBlog and I feel we can complete this ride in sub 4 hours.

How to improve. Well as I am now a member of British Cycling as a ride member (£28 per year) this has given me access to the many Sportives which you can complete just to make the longer rides a bit more interesting. Obviously the normal Sunday morning cycle with friends will be a very important part of the training and development, if nothing else as a social tool and a chance to catch up after a busy week. The advantage of the Sportives is they don’t all require you to raise money which is a big ask of people to keep donating on a regular basis. @Grabsnowblog and I feel doing one charity event a year is enough and mine will be cycling, but he may run the London marathon if he gets his place. You’ll know as soon as I do and we can support him in his efforts.

The British Heart Foundation already have registration open for the 2014 night ride on 12th July. The only reason I haven’t signed up yet is I am seeing who wants to join me as part of the team. I have alrwady had some requests from people on this years ride an others who have, in the past, completed London to brighton day ride but fancy having a crack at the night ride. If you want to join us on 12th July 2014 for the night ride then get in touch and I can start to organise the team. 

2014 could be a big year. Both @GrabsNowBlog could be cycling London to Paris if we are successful in the ballot and this would definity become the main charity event, however there are other possibilities. I have always fancied completing the Dunwich Dynamo with is this weekend (but other commitments prevent me attempting this in 2013), and this could be an option. I suppose it depend upon the date and other events which could make the calander.

I suppose, on reflection, this is one of the benefits of the 2012 Olympic games legacy. The number of people cycling has increased since the games and as a result this will start to have an impact on the health of the nation. This can only happen if we can actually make cycling an option for people to get about. Cycle lanes are required in ALL towns so we made the roads safer and we need to educate ALL road users. Cyclists need to respect vehicles and likewise the cars, busses, lorries and trucks need to think bicycle as well and think bike!

Whatever I decide I will update the blog and comment on my progress.

4 hours 38 minutes (part 2)

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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.

old 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.

 

4 hours 38 minutes (part 1)

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I remember once after winning an Olympic Gold Medal Sir Steve Redgrave saying if you see me get in another boat again you can shoot me or something like that. For a moment on Sunday morning I was not ever getting back on a bike, after I’d relaxed a bit and had time to reflect. Now I can’t wait to get back on and complete another challenge.

The goal was to complete London to Brighton in sub four hours. Annoyingly I was 38 minutes off this target & already I’ve started to analyse how it could be improved next year, more to follow later.

It was a truly enjoyable experience. Much better than last year, mainly due to being 52 minutes faster, but generally just better. There were highlights which I will outline some:

I cycled about 10 miles to meet my friend (@GrabsNowBlog itsupforgrabsnowblog.com) for the ride at the station. This involved a course on Map My Ride I had set up as part of my commute to work. The training paid off and even with my full backpack of equipment I took 9 seconds off my best time. This really got me in the mood for a good nights cycling from London to Brighton. So the train came and we were on our way to the capital.

The first challenge was to cycle across London, so this was my first experience to test out the work done by Boris (Mayor if London) to promote cycling. The routes are clearly labeled and road a different colour in places which helps. My friend knew the way and I followed him. It was ok, but in rush hour I’m not ready yet!

All safe and arrived at Clapham Common about 8.30.

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We got ourselves settled and had to take a photo of the start empty. I didn’t get the chance last year so had to this year. Whilst drinking a coffee we were interviewed for Magic Radio on why we were doing the ride. The love of cycling, the challenge and the fact its a great charity – The British Heart Foundation. When you arrive early you are able to settle, take stock and chat to people. We were asked to move the bikes to the racks to help with the start and got chatting about the ride. As an “experienced” night rider (twice now), first time riders ask you what to expect and how it is. I gave advice from my experience and threw in a caffeine gel as she was very helpful. Plus as my friend said “he has enough energy gels to cycle to France” He could well have been right!

So the night drew in and more people arrived. It didn’t look as busy as last year, which official figures showed, 3000 from 4700 in year one. Maybe this was due to the night ride being after the larger more famous day ride. Anyway it was time to get ourselves ready for the night ahead. 11pm came and the first riders were called to the start “red ride number to the start please”. My friend had a green number with a 11.30 start time and mine was gold with a midnight time. After a few discussions with organisers to try to start earlier, I was able to swap with a very kind gentleman who was cycling alone and wasn’t in a rush. It meant we could start together. Let the banter continue. At this point I would also like to point out we were a four as another cycling friend from MapMyRide had joined us with her cycling companion. We moved slowly to the front and then came the moment of being on the official start line as in the photo. The light went green and we were on our way, I managed to start the stop watch without crashing as well as get into my cleats, cool, calm and collected, some would say with panache. It came apparent we could cycle quite quickly and comfortably so we said goodbye to the ladies and got on with the job. Remember at this point the target was sub four hours.

Cycling through London is busy and in places dangerous. London busses are big. They have their own parts of the road which they share with cyclists! Traffic lights and the night busses meant thew first section of the ride (14 miles) took an hour which is slower than anticipated and not helpful, but safety is important. I’ rather 4h 38 mins, than dead or injured. The second stage went well We arrived at the second stop (29.5 miles) in 2 hours 2 minutes. We had made up some time here on the flat sections and I remember travelling at some high speeds on some well-lit sections. It was just before this stop we encountered our first major difficulty. My USB powered light was running low and my friend needed to change the battery. No problem, just see te cycle mechanics and buy a new light for me, change the battery for @GrabsNowBlog and all would be good. So after a bit of a haggle I buy a front light for £20 (actually it did a very god job) and we were ready to go. Except @GrabsNowBlog had somehow manged to put his new batteries into his lights in such away they broke. No problem just buy another front light. An expensive stop this was going to be, but things happen. “we don’t have front lights” my friend was told. “yes my mate has just bought one” “that was te last one” was the response. Surely as a bike supplier on a night ride you would have a large stock, I know I would, or they had already done a bumper trade in front lights just 2 hours into the ride, possible, I think not too! So this leaves us in a bit of a situation. Back on track with the time but with the hard hill still to come, but with limited lights. To top this off the light didn’t exactly fit well on my oversized handle bars so this was not ideal, however with one light between us the time was out of the window and it was get through this the best we could. So were off again the new light doing a great job, especially if I held it into position. This meant not being able to have full control of both brakes 100% of the time, but we couldn’t have a second light failure. It got to the stage were we had to stop and I used medical tape to secure the light to my frame. I just need to go to a DIY shop for a longer screw and the light will be fine, but that didn’t help at this point in time. So adjustments made and off again, one light shining the way for both of us. I didn’t hear @GrabsNowBlog when he shouted his chain came off and he did a great job of getting it back on in total darkness. Well done mate and sorry for not hearing you.

Dawn was approaching and visibility was becoming easier. It was also at this stage of the ride last year I became cold. Remembering this we layered up before leaving the second stop and we remained at a comfortable temperature for the second half of the ride. So after a very scary section of riding we arrived at the third stop. 17.5 miles to go from here including Devils Dyke – that hill! Despite “light gate” as we have called our whole incident with the lights, we had still made good time reaching the third stop in 3 hours 20 mins. We decided to rearrange the bags again, which actually we, or I had done at virtually every opportunity but forgot to mention until now, got ourselves ready for the final 17.5 miles and the climb of Devils Dyke. We could see now and I wanted to see just how I could cope with the famous climb. On went the GPS app and I recorded my progress. @GrabsNowblog was content to continue at a steady pace and said it was ok for me to give it a go, so I tried my best and build a steady speed to “attack” the hill.

I will say at this point that last year I did not get off ans walk up the hill and @GrabsNowblog didn’t either. However I did but actually if I didn’t I would have fallen off my bike and slid down the hill. probably still clipped into my pedals. I marched up the final 20-30 metres of the hill actually overtaking people who were still riding there bikes! The hill might not be the longest but after no sleep and 50 miles it’s a bit of a challenge. At the top I ignored the opportunity for a photo and started to descend the hill. Thinking about his I was suffering from lack of sleep and just wanted to get to the finish. I covered the last section on 1 hour 4 minutes (including the hill) not bad for 17.5 miles and descended with quite some pace. I managed to overtake people and the power of a rad bike came to my advantage again on the run into Brighton. Again traffic lights held up our progress a bit, but we were thankful of the break, even if they were annoying. At one set I remember saying to a rider “bloody traffic lights” lack of sleep has strange effects on you. I managed to catch some decent riders and became involved in bunch sprints to the next set, I wasn’t as quick but keeping an average speed and not having to stop at every set helped me overtake most of the riders along the sea front and cross the line on my own. it was lime winning a stage of the tour, I crossed the line, alone,shattered but still able to raise both arms above my head, as though I had actually won a tour stage. Collected my medal and water and started to reflect by a blue weely bin. After stopping the app and replying to a few messages I realised the stop watch was still running. I quickly stopped this and due to the app I was able to adjust the time accordingly to end up with 4h 38m. Shortly after @GrabsNowblog came in to a big cheer from the crowd and PA system and we were spent. Our bodies had been through a gret ordeal and it was time just to sit or lean against the barrier and do nothing. After about 15 mins we got the bikes on the beach and had our celebration beer which had travelled down in @GrabsNowBlog’s bag another great effort here mate.

We then had the pleasure of watching other cross the line and took pride when we saw red numbers who had started before us as we knew we had overtaken people. The PA announcer was good fun to a point but after three hours of listening to him saying well done you have cycled 60 long miles I turned to my friend and said no we cycled 60 miles, not long ones, or short ones just 60 miles. The lack of sleep was really evedent how.  A few hours later the girls crossed the line after some mechanical issues with twisted chains but all safe. It was then time to arrange breakfast, but before that I had to cool off in the sea which had the effect of an ice bath the water was so cold. Well it is at 8am in the morning. Breakfast was eaten the girls went off to their family BBQ and @GrabsNowBlog and I went for a well-earned ice cream, a chill out on Brighton beach and a nice cold beer. Same again next year, most defiantly.

end of l2b

The journey home was another very interesting experience which I will blog about soon. See you all next year for the third London to Brighton night ride.

London to Brighton 2 weeks to go!

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The 14th July is just under two weeks away (at the time of writing) and its the time I will attempt to cycle from London to Brighton (#l2b) in sub four hours raising money for The British Heart Foundation. There is still time to get in a few more training rides this week, a big one at the weekend and then taper it off next week before the big day (or night). There is still time to show your support by visiting my fundraising page and push me over my target. I know you’ve been busy, but go on do it now! Every little helps.

 

As well as the training for the event I have had to look again at my equipment, train with it on so we know how it feels and how it and I perform with it all in place. Earlier posts refer to the bike, shoes, mits, pedals and jacket which will be the main part of my equipment for this challenge. Within the last two weeks my ride pack has arrived containing my number, map and other useful information. I also need to have alternative footwear for the time in Brighton before the travel service back to London, and therefore a small back pack to wear on the ride. Lessons from last year are this needs to be small as last year my rucksack was too big and didn’t help. I had thought of not having a bag and just use the pockets on jackets and saddle bag, but no space for footwear.

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A solution has been found. I have managed to pick up this bright, reflective and very light backpack which is big enough to contain my jacket, flip flops (very stylish I know), wallet, keys and the mobile. This will leave the pockets in the jersey for the gels and food. The bag is also waterproof, especially as it has now been sprayed with some very good waterproofing spray from Millets before they disappeared from our high streets.

 

 

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I have ordered my nutrition for the event from Wiggle who had a good deal to get the water bottle free. £3.19 for 5 energy bars is i thought a good deal so ordered two. This means ill have two bottles as well so ideal for the ride.

 

Also on order are some arm warmers as I will be wearing a short sleeved shirt and these will be easy to roll down when the weather gets warmer as we reach Brighton. I have checked the long range forecast and the Sunday afternoon could have sunny weather and 25 degrees C! Image If that is the case there will be a need for me to use the other lenses which will arrive with my new cycling glasses. The clear lenses will be ideal for the dark, or I could use the lo light ones, before changing them again for the sunny weather we could get come Sunday afternoon. Again these were available on Wiggle with an offer. The fact these have been recommended by Cycling Plus and you get the interchangeable lenses included, what a bargain (£32).

 

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It would get cold without the jersey. It was a present from my last workplace and I now have an opportunity to wear it other than on a normal ride. It is tight, but then again cycling clothing is supposed to be, but this is the most snug I have ever felt in a cycle jersey. It isn’t too small (at L) and i have some idea of what the pro riders feel like when their wear their skin suits on time trials. I say some idea as this jersey is certainly not a second skin, but very close to it.

 

I think I am ready. Well I know i am ready. Just a few emails to chase by return coach and truck ticket, but I am sure this is in hand, and with a few more rides then it show time. Watch out people no. 2091 will be on his way in an attempt to complete 60 miles in sub four hours, in the process raising more then £250 for The British Heart Foundation. Please if you have read this and not get sponsored me please visit my fundraising page and help me make a different to people we don’t even know. Heart failure can affect anyone of us at any time, and I sure want a cure, so in the future, I am diagnosed with heart failure I might have a chance of living a different life to those present sufferers from the disease.

 

Thank you for supporting this great charity and fantastic cause. Also thank you to all the people who have wished me luck with my own personal challenge.

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One month today

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This time next month I’ll be gearing up for the London to Brighton ride raising money for The British Heart Foundation The training is slowly coming together and I have found a comfortable pace on y bike which I feel I can maintain throughout the ride. This should give me the opportunity to gain time on the flatter sections to allow for the inevitable reduction  pace of the category 3 climb over Devils Dyke. It is nothing for the pro riders but for us mortals then its a challenge at the end of a fairly long ride.

 

I am nearly kitted out, now my new jacket has arrived. It is certainly bright and will help meImage be seen. However I hope I don’t have to wear it as the weather will be nice for the duration of the ride! Yes I am being silly to think I could possibly rely on the British weather! As you can see it is certainly bright!

 

I want you all to sleep well on the weekend of 13/14th July. I believe you can achieve this my helping me reach my fundraising target. Just click on my link and help me get to £250. If every reader of this blog, attached Twitter and Facebook account just gave £1 I would achieve my target in minutes. This is nothing to you an me, but vital to those people who are supported by The British Heart Foundation after they have suffered from heart attacks and broken hearts. Please I know this is annoying and you already do loads for charities close to you, but if you could spare a few £ it really will make a difference  to those who have to live with a condition which at the time of writing has no cure. With your help that cure becomes a step closer and one day might just help one of us or our children. Just by clicking on the link to my fundraising page will allow you to sleep a lot easier during mid July whilst I cycle my heart out to help people less fortunate than ourselves.

Thank you for your help. It means a lot! 

You know you’re hooked when ….

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Its still (just) over a month until I complete London to Brighton again Raising money for The British Heart Foundation (you can sponsor me here) and I find myself looking at the next challenge. This happened last year to a degree, but it stopped when I just decided to redo the same ride. However this year it is different. Yes this year I have upped the anti and set myself the challenge of #l2b in sub 4 hours, but i am now thinking of which other rides could be completed.

To date I have briefly looked at the Surrey 100 which includes Box hill as used in the Olympic road race in 2012, but is could be a case of biting off more than I can chew, or a more realistic possibility the 2014 Dunwich Dynamo. Briefly this is a turn up and ride 120 miles from North London to the Suffolk coast. No fundraising involved which might take the pressure off, just a ride for the fun of it and off course the challenge of completing it. However I will do some fundraising for someone, I just know it.

Other possibilities have been incorporating cycling with the love of cricket my friends and I have. There is something appealing about cycling to a test ground, or between test grounds and then getting to watch a days test cricket, or more! I also want to attempt to cycle up Alpe D’Huez just so I can say I have cycled up a famous Tour de France climb. All I know is I certainly have been hooked on cycling and trying to push myself longer, further and possibly higher than I’ve gone before. Mad I may be but I know its going to be fun!