Friday, 23 June 2017

Nailing Ditching Beacon on a heavy tandem (again)

At the start line in Clapham Common


This is sort of a ride report of the British Heart Foundation's London to Brighton ride on 19th June 2017 (the hottest day of the year so far).


Some vital stats:

Number of bananas consumed: 4
Number of people hilariously shouting “SHE’S NOT PEDDLING ON THE BACK”: 15
Number of hills we walked up: 0

Bike: a Viking Timber Trail Tandem with a loaded Ortleib pannier bag on the back. You know, just in case it wasn’t heavy enough.



We’ve been riding tandems together now for about three years so we’ve pretty much got it down. Honestly this ride was a breeze. We had no issues. The BHF organise this ride so well, they’ve been doing it for years and have really perfected it. They provide marshals all along the way so there is no navigation involved, most of it is on closed roads and if it’s not they make drivers drive at 10mph with hazard lights on. There are 15 official rest and refreshment stops and lots of additional pubs along the route open for riders to use the facilities. People gave us lots of room (Chandni wears a hi-vs vest that says ‘Caution Blind Cyclist’), we had no technical issues and we finished with lots of energy. We had saved up all our gossip so we had plenty to talk about.
Stopping off at Chipstead Rugby Club so I could take all the hay fever tablets




Some idiot once told me that at the bottom of Ditching Beacon, you are only half way.

It’s a tough climb. It’s just under a mile and the average gradient is 9% with it reaching a max of 16%. Lots of people walk their bikes up. The tandem is too heavy to walk up any hills so we have no choice but to cycle up it. 

I reassured Chandni, that it was no big deal if we couldn’t do it, but she wasn’t having any of it and we powered through. I'd like to say it was down to technique and fitness but mostly, I think stubbornness plays a huge part.

You see, I have history with Ditching Beacon. 

My late father was the world’s worst person to buy presents for. Whatever you gave him he’d say, “You shouldn’t have wasted your money.” If we tried to replace something of his that was worn and old he’d say, “mine is perfectly good” and defiantly cover it in duct tape “SEE!” Even book vouchers were a fail as he’d say “I get books out of the library. You shouldn’t have wasted your money.” I gave up buying him presents at a young age which he was genuinely thrilled about. In 2012, on his last Father’s Day, my sister and I did this ride on a tandem for the 1st time and much like today, we nailed Ditching Beacon. While cruising downhill after my sister called him (you can do that easily on the back of a tandem) and said we cycled up Ditching Beacon on a massive tandem in dresses going past lots of cleated up Lycra dudes walking carry their bikes up. That was the kind of shit our dad loved. He could go down the squash club and say “guess what my girls did?” That cost nothing.





Something about cycling to beaches means I have to eat fish and chips and get in the sea at the end. Chandni had a pint of lager. Fricken hero.

The tough bit was sitting in traffic on the coach that only played George Michael with lots of sweaty cyclists back to Clapham then riding the tandem on my own looking like I’d been dumped or really careless back to Chandi’s in west London then riding my bike home to North London.

The next day all that hurt was my sunburned nose. Not learning since 1982. 

I found these pictures on my phone from this pub we stopped off in Ardingly called the Gardner's Arms. The bathroom was devoted to television gardeners. I thought I dreamt that. 






Also, maximum respect to this Chelsea Pensioner who had his whole crew come down to Brighton to meet him at the finish line. 

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