Monday, May 28, 2012

My London to Brighton Night Ride

Cycling down to the start, the evening started off on a bizarre note, as while stopped at some lights on Whitehall, I was spotted by a group of early-20s Frenchmen, wearing white t-shirts and red neckerchiefs (overgrown scouts? cult members? some traditional French costume for a night out?), who on seeing me shouted 'allez!' and 'sportif!', and possibly other, possibly ruder, things that I'm too monolingual to have understood. I gave nods and shrugs as appropriate, and they 'helpfully' gave me a push-start to speed me on my way, like in the Tour de France. It's a bit of a bugger when you're riding fixed gear, and aren't clipped in, but my legs did catch up with the pedals, and on I went.

Set off around 12.30, and was immediately faced with the first hazard of the evening: a bit of apple stuck in my teeth. Honestly, it niggled me all through the ride. I set off a bit too fast, and the field soon thinned out through the numerous South London suburbs, but enough of us to cause bemusement to the drunks of Mitcham etc.

Into the country we went, and after a while it got very quiet, with very few cars or other riders about. It's quite difficult to tell whether you're going uphill or downhill at night. My legs would generally give me a clue, but it was a weird feeling. There were lots of hills (either up or down - no-one can be sure), and this led to the second but no less serious hazard: cramp. A direct result of going too fast early on, and not having done enough cycling before today, but all I could think at the time was: ow. In order to get myself off the bike, I had to use the spring in my cramp stiffened legs to fling me off my bike and onto the verge, while simultaneously catching my bike, and taking care of the serious business of saying 'ow'.

Made it in to Brighton to be greeted by the rubbish of the evening before littering the streets; by rubbish, I mean late-night punters making their way home. Further stereotypes witnessed were: man opening door of car to vomit onto road, people who had lost various items of clothing wobbling along the sea front, abusive drunks waving their fists and yelling, and seagulls the size of humans dressed in top hats singing the works of Stephen Sondheim. I was quite tired by this stage, and doubt exists over some of these sightings.

And then, back to London on the coach, waking occasionally to try and avoid sleeping on the shoulder of the guy next to me. I hadn't been introduced, and thought it would be a fairly serious breach of etiquette.

Thanks again to everyone who sponsored me. Cheers!

Monday, May 21, 2012