What we planned to do:
Our objective was to cycle 54 miles from London to Brighton, taking both on and off road cycle paths. We planned to the journey as a 8 hour cycle using cycle routes 22 and 20 as a group 4. As the group was of vastly mixed abilities and none of the participants had cycled to Brighton before, we had assigned duties to duties to each person, the lead cyclist, Warren in charge of navigation using his phone mounted on his bike, Hamzah, in charge of carrying cycle equipment and first aid kit, Mohammed responsible for water supplies and Armughan in charge of keeping up with the rest of us!
What Actually Happened:
We had planned to meet at Southside Shopping Centre by 5 am on Monday, seeking to avoid the rush hour traffic and arrive at Brighton within 8 hours. Hamzah was keen on meeting people from the pride parade taking place the day before and with this intention in mind, he ensured we were all on time and took as few breaks as possible. Cycling to Brighton proved quite the challenge, particularly with climbing hills of such inclines and frequency. This was a problem we had not prepared for, practicing at Richmond Park, often resulting in some members needing breaks at many of the hills. However, having been trained in road safety proved a huge asset as the journey would not have been possible without cycling along many high streets and side roads. At one stage, we arrived at the A24 motorway, and found ourselves in a dilemma. We could not find the cycle path which connected to the path we were on and so 2 members thought it was reasonable to cycle on the hard shoulder. Luckily, the remaining two members were able to persuade them to continue looking for the cycle path, which after some enquiry we are able to safely find and ride along, straight to Brighton. In total, it took us around 9 hours.
We were able to stay in Brighton for 3 days and 2 nights. We visited many of the attractions including the Pavillion, beach and the Pier. Staying at the YHA, we were able to visit the attractions at a walking distance allowing us to put our bikes to rest for a while. On wednesday, we cycled back, this time considerably quicker within 6 hours.
How we felt Afterwards:
On our way back, we discussed how and when we are going to cycle to another city again, talking about how we would improve next time and what we would do differently. The journey had many up’s and downs (some member willing to give in at Gatwick) but the team persevered and pushed on and although we didn’t do it in style, and arrived with bumps and bruises, the team feels they have learned skills valued beyond just cycling. We are truly thankful to the Mark Evison Foundation for this life changing opportunity.