As part of my training for my endurance ride (Newcastle to London in 24 hours) in August, on Sunday I cycled from London to Brighton, like many others, only in a moment of genius (I actually mean madness) we decided we would also cycle back to London. Now normally I do my blog post to publish on a Monday morning only you will notice today is in fact Tuesday and the reason is because I was broken – mentally, physically and also in my lady parts. Anyone reading this who doesn’t cycle will be pulling a face right now at my last comment and anyone who does cycle will be nodding with complete understanding.
Before I go on I will tell you I wondered how to write this and if I should adopt the proper blog post etiquette or whether to just Lisa it and have it warts and all. You will not be surprised that I thought sod it you are going to get every gory detail. So I warn you now this post has swearing, a lot of swearing, brutal honestly, and explicit content so should you wish to read a review of a product this blog post is not the one for you. If you are looking for some honesty, mixed with some humour and finished off with my very own tears then continue reading.
We (Helen, Steve, Adam, Alain and I) started by cycling to Upminster and then heading to Liverpool Street where we then cycled across to Clapham Common where the event starts. Now I am not a cycling professional but have done a great number of events/sportives to date and I knew London to Brighton was a charity ride for the British Heart Foundation so I knew there would be a mix of riders of different abilities and had heard that it gets pretty congested in parts. I didn’t realise just how congested and getting out of London was really hard work.
What I’ve not mentioned is that I also knew that this ride went up and over Ditchling Beacon. I have driven over this and I did so pretty much catching flies with my mouth wide open wondering how anyone would get up it on a bike. Knowing I would be one of those crazy people trying to do just that made me conduct a bit of research. I had looked up the climb on Veloviewer, Strava, Google images and also You Tube from a cyclists Go Pro camera. Some may say this was sensible, you know being forewarned is forearmed? Well that’s not the case! It was not sensible it was retarded and made me panic for most of the week leading up to the event so much so that I barely slept the night before and I cried before I left home, cried explaining to the others at the train station my concerns and had to take a moment just before the Beacon itself. Silly cow. This meant that my first 50 miles were fuelled by nerves.
Nerves and the fact that I was having some mechanical issues with my gears skipping and got told my chain was dry so we managed, before Ditchling, to find a kind mechanic at a rest stop and ask him to lube me up ha ha
Steve decided he would ride with me up the climb and so off we set. And I did it! I didn’t need to stop, didn’t need to rest, I did it. I would love to tell you it was actually fine and I was worrying about nothing but it is a b*tch and is a tough climb. Only two people overtook me on the whole climb, Steve was amazingly supportive even when I had a wobble and said I might have to stop and he said no keep going so I did. He kept telling me I was almost there and I just kept barking at him when? when? when? and he said the end is just round the corner and I started barking at him again where? where? Then I saw my friend Helen and was like I did it! If I am honest I think people kept out of my way purely down to my heavy breathing (it is a sound of itself to behold and grimace at) probably thinking good god let this poor girl get to the top before she coughs up a lung and other internal organs.
I cried at the top and so did Steve – me because I conquered it and Steve because he is a big girl. Steve and Helen said to me at the top isn’t the view worth it? Most people would smile and say yes. Me, I said yeah I could happily look at a photo and miss the climb – I was just being honest!
Getting to the finish i felt i well and truly earned that medal. As I knew it was a charity ride and people did it for fun I had underestimated the ride itself and was surprised at the number of tough climbs on it, not so surprised that a lot of people have to walk them. On my Strava I titled it the Oh My F*cking God ride – it was very apt.
Pretty disappointed at the number of participants who cycled through red lights, on the wrong side of the road, round roundabouts the wrong way, completely surrounding cars in traffic and carrying their helmets! Why have a helmet and carry it – what good is it being carried rather than on your head – sorry but it has to be said – idiots! No wonder cyclists have a bad name – we are not all like that I promise you.
We headed out of Brighton along the coast and stopped in a pub for some lunch before we embarked on our journey back. I stupidly thought that Ditchling would be the worst and it would obviously be plain sailing on the way home. Helen politely told me it is pretty much the same for the way back. My heart sank and I think my lady parts wondered why I was punishing them. What had they ever done? They are just there minding their own business and bam full day in the saddle as punishment for what exactly? Sadistic b*tch! I was giving poor Steve some graphic descriptions as we cycled along that I will spare you from but you get the gist. Between my descriptions and his sudden outburst of burps we made quite a pair!
About 7 miles later Helen had warned me about another pretty nasty climb and told me we were now on it. I said thanks. I didn’t mean it. It came out of nowhere and got pretty steep but I conquered it and if it was not going to be a quick ride due to all the climbing then I would at least do it justice.
That was until we went past our turning and changed route and every b*stard climb in the South Downs crossed our path. I couldn’t enjoy any of the descents as they were pretty steep I was almost always on my brakes (I have the blisters on my hands to prove it) and I knew whenever we went down we would climb even more to get back up – that was the gist of the ride – don’t get complacent on the bike as the area had every intention of trying to destroy my very soul – I am fairly certain I left it on a climb somewhere.
You’ve heard me talk of a hill near me called Old Church Hill (which I also refer to as Old Church B*tch) and as we entered a road I had a sinking feeling we were going to come across another hill of the same sort. I was wrong. Instead we were faced with Old Church Hill’s sl*ttier bigger sister complete with aunt, mum and siblings. The width of a car, overhanging trees, poor road surface and steep ascents round every bend and about 4 or 5 times as long as Old Church Hill. I got half way up and had to put my foot down. I was gutted, I had beaten the Beacon but this arsh*le climb got me. I then got back on but again further up I struggled and stopped just to see that over the crescent was the end so again got back on and finished. It was worse than the beacon and not just my opinion we all agreed.
I should point out that we missed a turn so the rest of our journey was via Helens phone navigation who hated me and clearly wanted me to die on route as we got to a turning that looked almost vertical. The picture below is pretty damn accurate. I was pretty grumpy by this point my right knee was swollen (need to check my cleat position) and quite painful, we were all sunburnt, wind burnt and it had started spitting with rain. I said lets just get on with it and I will do as much as my legs (with 115 miles of climbing in them, could do). My logic on these climbs was not to look up but to keep my eyes on the floor a few metres ahead and just spin. Until I looked up about a third of the way up and just saw road with no top like a stiff middle finger saying f*ck you Lisa I will beat you and I threw all my toys out of the pram and announced I was done and got off my bike. Then I cried again as I completed the walk of shame up the hill, telling Steve who had cycled back down that at the next train station I was getting on it as we were lost I was sure of it (we weren’t lost as the navigation on Helen’s phone was guiding us but as I said before I believed it hated me and wanted me dead). It was worse than the beacon and not just my opinion we all agreed. That feeling of walking up to three people patiently waiting for you is not something I ever wish to repeat and I was half upset and half embarrassed in equal measures.
Only we could find two hills worse than Ditchling Beacon.
Then we saw a sign for Croydon and Croydon meant London. This meant I didn’t need to tell the others to leave my dead corpse at the side of one of the climbs, continue without me and drag my bike back with them. I pulled up my big girl knickers and carried on because, well I am selfless like that. I know I know you are reading this thinking wow shes amazing right? I knew you would be – everyone apart from those that were cycling with me who probably thought shut it you grumpy cow.
Even the London roads were painful with so much stopping and starting for traffic lights and avoiding people in cars who seemed to just be oblivious to four cyclists – this is why I don’t commute!
It is all training is what I keep telling myself and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that bullsh*t. I see that now just not at the time.
My husband came to collect me from the train station and I got home, showered and went to bed with my knee propped up on a pillow.
ps if anyone describes London to Brighton as a fun ride they are a sadistic liar
pps did I mention I f*cking hate hills?
ppps when the weather says overcast I will take sun cream anyway in future to avoid the above lobster result
pppps this is the last one I promise, all of the above is training hours and miles for the main event and if anyone wishes to sponsor us myself, the other ladies and my lady parts would be very grateful