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Overnight from Clapham

Mike Anton writes…

Nearly three years after my first full on solo night ride (http://egcc.net/display-items.php?intItemID=501) , I decided to do the inaugural BHF London to Brighton Night Ride.

With a midnight kick off from Clapham Common and 60 miles to Brighton using a different route to the day ride, I knew this would be something new to do, especially as I haven’t got much riding in this year.

With exceptionally warm conditions and crucially, the prospect of a nice NE tail wind, I joined a number of other riders on the train up to Clapham Junction for 11pm.

There were a lot of people on the Common and after a slightly confused registration I joined the throng of all shapes and sizes of bikes and people waiting for midnight. 
Some road works delayed the start until 12:25 and after 20 mins of funnelling to the start I was off down the streets of South London at 12:45.

I was a bit apprehensive of the initial volume of riders and even at 1AM the roads were surprisingly busy.  It started to thin out, especially with the climb up to Old Coulsdon providing the first test of the legs.

Coming down the North Downs escarpment heralded the arrival of the rural Surrey countryside with its deceptive climb up to Bletchingly.  From here on I knew the roads well including the terrible road surface through Smallfield.  At the Burstow cross roads the night route went west to the Balcombe – Horley road as opposed to heading towards Turners Hill and following the day route.

I really don’t like the road from Crawley to Cuckfield, mainly because it has too many hills though the darkness helped hide these, and there was also a complete lack of traffic.

Having got to Cuckfield I then had 6 miles of riding on my own before seeing another rider.

The trusty Garmin showed me that I was averaging 18.5mph (god bless that tail wind) as I got to the bottom of the South Downs.  I knew this was going to drop on the ride up to the top at Devils Dyke but I was quietly confident I’d still put a reasonable turn of speed in.

Unfortunately my legs weren’t aware of this and the final ascent saw me grovelling up in bottom gear.

With the sun just brightening the eastern sky it was a fast descent down Dyke Road followed by a run along the sea front, dodging the early hour revellers.

Finishing on Maderia Drive the Garmin had 59.5 miles and 3:16 run time.  Not bad considering my lack of fitness though the tail wind certainly helped, as did the borrowed Exposure Lights 6 Pack which enabled full on riding down the descents.

Garmin track – http://connect.garmin.com/activity/182439955

After this little jaunt I then slowly headed over to Steyning to partake of the Brighton Mitre Hilly 10.

This is the last of six ‘10s’ that Robin Johnson organises on the day and for the first time, had lovely sunny if breezy conditions.

Despite an hour and half’s doze, the legs weren’t up for the task and I watched the average speed nose dive as I headed back for the final mile up Steyning Bostal.

Thoughts of trying to get under evens rapidly disappeared and the shouts of encouragement from the spectators didn’t have the desired effect as I crossed the line in a dismal 31:09.

Still, Pete Tadros smashed his course record with a mid 23, a fantastic effort and one that’s likely to stand for quite some time.

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