Well I did it! On Saturday I cycled from Hampton Court to Brighton, in my monkey suit!
This is a bit of a long post but please bear with me. I wanted to firstly thank EVERYONE who has supported me – both in terms of sponsorship and moral support. I’d like to say a massive thank you to my mum, Dr Ann Priston for all her help and support leading up to the ride and for manning my support car on the day! I couldn’t have done it without her and I think the whole experience was probably worse for her than it was for me, so thank you! Secondly I would like to show everyone excerpts from the ride so you can all see that I did it, in the furry suit! I’ve been so touched by everyone’s kindness and generosity and I really can’t thank you all enough. A big thank you to the Pavilion Club too for allowing me to set off from their carpark and for all their support.
So far I’ve raised an amazing £855.80! I can’t believe it – thank you so much to everyone who has donated so far. If anyone was waiting for me to complete the cycle before sponsoring me then you can still sponsor me here I’m still a way off from my total goal of £1500 so any donations are always welcome.
Now for the gruesome details of the day!
Here’s a map of my route:
You can see the full route in detail (downloadable if anyone wants to repeat this journey!), with photos at various points on my mapmyride site here (zoom in and click on the little camera icon to see photos of the route)
And here’s a little graph of the gradients and all the hills I peddled up! No wonder my legs are sore
I set off from the Pavilion carpark at about 11:30, loads of people came down to see me off which was such a fab way to start.
I peddled off out of the carpark and off towards Thames Ditton. I won’t lie – as I left the carpark in the overcast, damp weather I was begining to wonder what on earth I’d let myself in for!
After a slightly damp ride through Tolworth and Ewell (where I picked up a fellow cycler who cycled with me for a mile or so) I pushed my way up Banstead hill, past the station and made it to my first pit stop – a quick Jelly Tot refuel at mile 10!
I only stopped for a few minutes and then pressed on. The next section of the ride was a mix of ups and downs, with a few big hills. I’d been in need of a loo break since about mile 4 so we’d agreed to try to stop somewhere. I peddled past quite a few pubs and a starbucks and was sure mum would have stopped the car at one of them but I checked every car park as I went past and didn’t see it. So I decided to cycle on – down a slightly hairy sliproad that nearly took me on to the M25 (thanks to a really stupid cycle path layout!) and then on, under the M25 down the A23 towards, and under, the M23. By mile 25 I still hadn’t seen the car so I stopped and gave them a ring. It turned out they were about 10 miles behind me after stopping in a pub to wait for me. It seems they slightly underestimated my speed!
We managed to meet up with each other again at mile 25 at the top of Turner’s Hill for another refuel with a protein bar, some jelly tots and a refill of the water bottle!
I then set off again through some lovely countryside – some ups, some downs (really the South Downs should be renamed the South Ups to be honest!), and some great wildlife. In fact I was so busy looking at the baby bunnies, sparrowhawks and deer as I whizzed past that I managed to miss one of my key turnings in the village of Ardingley and took a slight detour of a couple of miles through the delightful village of Lindfield! The wind and rain picked up at this point of the ride (as you’ll see from the vid below with my billowing monkey outfit!) but the scenery kept me going, as did the beeps from motorists (which I hope were beeps of support rather than annoyance ) and some really encouraging words from fellow cyclists and walkers on the route
By this point I was cold, damp and pretty tired. My hip flexors were sore and my knees were starting to ache. I was actually grateful for the monkey suit as it did at least keep me a bit warm, but everytime I stopped I got cold pretty quickly so I tried to keep any stops to a minimum. Onwards and upwards (or downwards!) through Wivelsfield…
After this there was time for one final stop for me to psyche myself up for the final big hill – Ditchling Beacon. Although I knew it was quite a climb I hadn’t fully prepared myself for it and when I first caught sight of it as I came down Beacon Road it loomed up ahead like a solid wall! More of a mountain than a hill
I made it up though – I put my bike into the lowest gear and just kept peddling. I managed not to stop and aside from some slightly hairy close calls with passing cars I got to the top unscathed, though it was lucky no one could hear me on the way up – the air was a teeny bit blue as I huffed and puffed my way to the top!
I spent about 5 mins catching my breath and taking in the view at the top and then decided to head off before I got too cold. Then it was plain sailing for the last 6 miles! Mostly downhill from here in to Brighton, so it was bike in to top gear and then I was a super speedy monkey all the way in to Brighton – top speed 31 mph – wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Some fantastic views of Brighton and the coast on the way down but I didn’t want to stop to take photos – was just too excited to be finishing!
Finished! Total time 4 hrs 49 mins including stops, 3hrs 49 mins of actual cycling time and 5hrs 18 if we include the bits where I had to wait for the support car! lol! Either way I’m super chuffed. I was expecting 5 – 6 hrs or more given the conditions, and as I’ve never cycled further than 10 miles in one go and only got the bike 2 weeks ago I think it’s pretty good!
Final chance for some photos on the beach before I got out of the monkey suit and into some dry clothes!