Tuesday 20 July 2021

Cloud Blue Brompton goes to Brighton overnight

The London to Brighton bike ride is a classic and one of the routes many cyclists want to experience. I have been fortunate to complete it several times and last Friday was a classic in every sense of the word.

I decided to take my all new Cloud Blue Brompton with me for this one. The reasoning behind it was simple. It was new and it would be its first nocturnal adventure. I cycled from Maida Vale to the start new the London Eye and as it was a warm night and I was glad I wore short sleeves. (More on that later on)!

Our ride leader for this one was Adrian. In fact it is Adrian's first route to Brighton as ride leader that Dr John and I have used ever since and as such remains my all time favourite. After the safety talk and almost on the stroke of midnight, we were off. The buzz and excitement was there as people clicked into pedals and various GPS devices bleeped to tell their owners, they were off! As we did a song that I heard earlier blasting through some pretty impressive speakers stayed in my head. So it was that I pedalled off to 'Move Bi@#h' by Ludacris playing in my head!

The pace of the ride was at the usual purposeful and conversational pace and it was great catching up with some familiar faces not seen in a long time. Zoom Zoom was one of them on a rather lovely new road bike. 

As we cycled along, chatting away the time flew by and before we knew it we had approached the cattle grid at Farthing Downs. At the top we regrouped and took in the views - what we could make of them. The little red lights in the distance were Crystal Palace apparently. 

This point always marks the point at which the urban gives way to rural and winding country lanes become a feature. 

At Farthing Downs we sometimes see cows the the adjacent fields. They were nowhere to be seen but as we cycled along there was something moving...running in the metre-high grass to our left. Apart from the sound of something out there and the the top of the grass being displaced, I could not see what it was. Every horror movie replayed itself in my mind until someone ahead said that it was the cows running along side us! Phew!!

Our progress was good and there were to my knowledge, no mechanical issues. I stopped a few times to make tweaks to my new Brompton. The first was the gear indicator chain which required all of one half turn to make things good. The second was the front brake calliper which I tightened a little so that the front mudguard was centred. My new Cloud Blue road rather well and I was glad that I brought it out to play.

Our halfway stop was the Scout Hut in Burstow. There we had some sandwiches, hot drinks and a flapjack served by the lovely volunteers who get up at stupid o'clock for us all. In fact we arrived 10x minutes early at 03:20 am. 

Some participants decided to sit outside but I opted for inside. We were later joined by the lovely Natalya who had been outside but caught the cold. As we spoke about what it was like outside and that she felt it was chilly, I started to get cold myself. When I stepped outside the psychological damage had been done and it was as if I were Sir Ernest Shackleton in the South  Pole. I felt compelled to put arm warmers on and a boil in the bag rain jacket on. This stayed on for a few miles until I started to feel overdressed. 

Dawn was beautiful. Birds sang their hearts out and many of the Brompton contingent resorted to type, taking photos of everything! 

Naturally, the Brompton user must take a photo of their Brompton wherever they are and in taking this photo I was soon joined by the Tail End Charlies. Pedalling off to join near the front, this pattern was replayed as another scene caught my eye and a photo was needed! 

As always we stopped to regroup for those further back. This provided the opportunity to catch up, have a snack, a drink or in Zoom Zoom's case, forty winks!

Our route from the Scout hut was all new and an interesting one. I still haven't made up my mind fully whether I like it better than the one I am used to as it allowed us to ride on some lovely winding lanes with stunning views. 

The car park at the base of Ditchling Beacon arrived suddenly and many powdered their noses before making their ascent. The Beacon rarely disappoints and the views on offer this morning through the gaps in the hedges were beautiful. 

I made it up to the top and basked in the glorious views. There were cheers for those who made it and encouragement for those making the last few turns of the pedals. 

We waited until everyone was up and then made our way into Brighton. This is almost exclusively downhill and highly enjoyable. At one point some riders have been known to set off the speed cameras but not this time. 

After a few photos of my Cloud Blue with the Pier in the background, Dr John and I made our way to the station clocking up 57 miles. Stocking up on some refreshments we boarded out train and I reached Blackfriars at 09:41 saying goodbye. I reached the tube station of my choice to find things were suspended. In fact almost all routes home via the tube were, so I cycled back. As I passed the statue of Sir Ernest Shackleton outside the Royal Geographical Society, I fancy I could almost hear laughter coming from its direction. 

I made it home a little later than planned but thoroughly enjoyed it all. Many thanks to Adrian for a wonderful route and his team of Tail End Charlies. The Brighton run is always rather special, perhaps as it was my first overnight ride to the coast that started this near addiction. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

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