London to Brighton (gulp)
After agreeing to take part, I did have a slight problem. No bike to ride. Luckily, my boss at the time lent me his trusty (old) road bike which, although old, seemed to be perfectly capable. At least I thought so. Who knew that you needed more than five gears?!
It was a great feeling to cycle into Brighton and over the finish line
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I trained for about 4 months by gradually increasing the miles I rode each trip. The first trips were a jelly-legged nightmare but once this passed it became easier. And I did the ride itself although I walked the infamous Ditchling Beacon section near the end. However, it was a great feeling to cycle into Brighton and over the finish line. I felt like a proper Tour de France rider (only slower).
From then, I was hooked. I bought my own (mountain) bike and did the ride again the following year. I cycled up Ditchling Beacon this time. Yay!
During my training for the Brighton ride, my training buddy (thanks Robin M) and I managed to visit a few pubs near Horsham after, or during, our little mountain bike trips. This further cemented my enthusiasm for cycling (oh, really?: Ed) and I carried on riding, whilst gradually going further afield to the fantastic scenery of the South Downs. I think I soon realised that I would not be entering any competitive mountain bike races but I really enjoyed getting away from modern life on a mountain bike. Even in the busy South East of England, you can cycle a few miles and find a forest trail without any reminders of urban life. It’s great for blowing away the cobwebs!
Older and wiser?
Since those days, I’ve been cycling most summers in and around Sussex. It’s nothing too exciting but it gets me out of the house away from the laptop and, apart from a few scrapes and bruises, is mostly very enjoyable.
I’ve also been cycling a few longer distance day and weekend trips, either with a group of friends or on organised holidays, around the UK, including two Coast-to-Coast routes (North East England and Devon), the South Downs Way and, more recently, the Ridgeway Trail. I’ll be describing these in later blog posts.
That’s it for now. Hope you like the potted history.