Friday, 20 June 2014

BHF London to Brighton Ride 2014

The Royal Mail Aylesbury team on Marina Drive, at the end of the London to Brighton Bike Ride 2014.
I'm on the far side, with the yellow panniers
The Royal Mail Aylesbury team at the top of Ditchling Beacon, with their post bikes.
From the left, back line: Paul, Peter, Ray A, Scott, Jay, and Zed
Front line: Brian, and Dougie.
Also on the ride was Ray B, who dropped out with a broken bike after Turners Hill,
and finished in the official "broom wagon".
It's all downhill from here!
High spirits on the minibus on the way down, even though
it is only five-forty am. We assembled at four-thirty!
Scott (far left) was roped into the ride just 3 days earlier!
What a hero!
Brian and Jay on the way down

We were due to start at 06:30 (which is when this picture was taken). But where is the second van with half of the bikes in it? In the orange top is Steve C, one of the two support drivers that drove the "bike" vans, and in the dark blue top with the patterned brown short is Phil, our support driver that drove the minibus. But where is Steve F, the seond "bike van" driver? Why do I care? - well Flame is in Steve F's van!
Thanks for the help of Royal Mail, whom, as well as loan of the actual bikes, lent us a pair of liveried vans to move them, and thanks to Northgate Vehicle Hire for an excellent minibus at a great rate!
The support drivers, all three, including "late" Steve F, deserve our thanks as well. We get all the glory and the finishers' medals, but without the unsung support of our three support drivers, none of it would have happened!
Ten past seven, and we are finally forming up. Clapham Common is quite a large area, and is VERY congested on the day of the BHF L2B ride! We finally started at seven-fifteen, fourty-five minutes late.
We had eight Pashley Mailstars, which weigh about 25 kilos each (that's about 55 pounds!), and one Pashley Millenium, which is a similar weight. The Millenium is easily identified (it is not visible in this shot!), as it has a "diamond" frame, and no rear carrier. All the bikes in this shot are Mailstars, some with 5-speed SRAM gears and SRAM drum brakes, and some with 3-speed Strumey-Archer gears and Drum brakes.

Heading out through London is a stop-start
affair. This is Ray B, waiting for traffic signals.
Ray B was one of our team organisers.
Ray B dropped out after Turners Hill with a
broken bike.

Paul, our best rider, waiting for the lights to change.

The boys, all lined up. Zed, in the foreground is riding the
only Pashley Millenium in our line-up.
Ray A, the main team organiser.

Brian, the cheerful one.

Paul and Brian at the Woodmansterne Village Hall rest stop (marked "A" on the route map). Some of our riders forgot to have breakfast, so stopped forbacon rolls. The slow pace meant that the fitter riderswere riding at a very relaxed pace.
Regrouping on the driveway of a large house.
Dougie (the oldest rider, at 55), Ray A, and Ray B.
You can see how congested the early parts of the route were.
There was a long delay due to a serious accident just
after the Dog and Duck rest stop (marked "E" on the
Route Map, below). An air ambulance attended, and
the road was closed for at least an hour. Paul and Ray B
are pictured, along with many of the other riders in the

Selfie at Burstow Scouts, rest stop "F".
The tean stopped here for repairs to
Ray B's bike.

Dougie, our unofficial team mechanic, taking
a look at Ray B's bike. The pedal thread was
stripped, and the pedal eventual fell off.
We couldn't fix it, and Ray B continued, alone,
for another 4 or five miles to the Turners Hill
rest stop, coasting downhill, one-pedalling on
the flat, and pushing up hill. Then he waited for
the official event recovery vehicle to pick him, and
the bike, up.

Back out on the open road.

The traffic was much less by now.

Dougie's still enjoying himself.

Zed and Jay (our youngest rider at just 34), enjoying the picturesque villages on the route

Brian and Ray A pacing themselves on the route. The funniest sound on the ride is the
"click, click, click" noise some riders make when they are pushing, due to their SPD shoes.
I had a big grin on my face every time I pedalled past an SPD rider pushing with my
platform pedals and trainers (sneakers).

Selfie at Ditchling Beacon.
Paul and I broke away from our team after Turners Hill,
and I kept up with him right to the bottom of the
Beacon. We looked at each other, and asked each
other if we should stop, or just get it over with.
We went for continuing upwards. Paul just dropped
me, and shot off up the hill. I had been going a bit
fast on the approach (to keep up with Paul!),
and after a short cycle,I went for a "fast push"
strategy. I walked the bike past many exhausted
riders on the way up the Beacon.
Tortoise and Hare, I guess :-)

Dougie makes it to the rest area ("P") at the top of the
Paul was first up, and the only one of us that cycled.
I was ten minutes behind Paul. Jay was third up, a good
ten minutes more behimd me, and then the rest of the team, except Ray B, straggled in.

Taking a good rest and a breather at the top of Ditchling Beacon. Brian, Scott, Jay and Zed are pictured.
Heroes all, especially Scott, who had just three days notice that he was riding! (we had several drop-outs from the team,
and our original squad had dropped from 16 to just 8!) So Scott stepped up to support us, relying on his general fitness,
and a "bulldog" spirit, not having had time for any particular training.
Brian and Jay at the top, relaxing.
Brain and Jay at the top, relaxing.

Brian and Paul coming into Brighton

Brighton selfie.

Approaching the seafront.
Turn left for the Finish Line!

Relaxing after the ride on Marina Drive.
We are all wearing out Finisher's Medals.
Brian, Scott and myself are pictured, with
Zed partly visible behind me.

Dougie and Jay, the oldest and youngest
of our riders, relaxing after the ride.

Scott and Zed enjoying the sea air!

Phone home, E.T. !
Paul, our stand-out rider, seems dissapointed the ride
isn't longer!
Zed and Brian are glad it's over!

Phil, one of our support drivers, met us down
on Marina Drive.

After a hard ride, Dougie needs to keep warm!

Scott, the man with just three days to prepare
rode outstandingly. I was proud to have been
in the same team as him!

Phil, Brian, Zed, Scott and Jay relaxing at Victoria's Bar on
Brighton Pier.

Paul is just SO fit. To ride a three-speed 25kg
bike up Ditchling Beacon, when most riders
on fancy bikes end up pushing at least part of it,
is outstanding !!!

Dougie's got a story to tell ...

What would the seaside be without the thieving seagulls :-)

Ray A, the main team organiser, relaxed
after the ride.

Brian's STILL enjoying himself!

My ride, "Flame" after the event.

In Brighton, we parked up on the forecourt of the Royal Mail
depot there! Thank you, Royal Mail Brighton, for the
Parking facilities. As I mentioned before, though,
we did get quite a bit of support from Royal Mail,
including the bikes and two liveriedvans, one of which
 you see here. My bike, Flame, is the one with the
 yellow panniers.

Steve F, the other support driver, loading the
bikes into the van ready for tramsport back to
the Aylesbury depot.

Having got up at 3 am, I am finally home at 10 pm - a 19 hour day. No wonder I look a bit tired!
Got my Finisher's Medal, though!
The hard bit is getting up for work at 4:30 on the next morning :-(
We all made it in to work the next day (hurrah, says the boss!)

On the back of the Route Guide is a handy Slope Guide, showing where the
climbs are. Only Paul and I rode to the top of the hill shown a little after 20
miles, and only Paul rode up the Ditchling Beacon (I went into a fast push!)
The Route Guide handed out to
all riders at the Start line.

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