London to Brighton and back? Why not, it is not as if I haven’t been doing lots of training rides.
This tale started with a simple, harmless Facebook message which stated that a good friend of mine (Andy) was doing the London to Brighton. Just to throw it out there I said ‘well I tell you what, why don’t we do it on a tandem!’
He called back two days later saying ‘yeah let’s do it!’ So the hunt began for a tandem! Thankfully Dave (rower) came to the rescue, not only with a tandem but the skills to mend it and the knowledge on how on earth they work. Without him the story would abruptly end here…
Organising Andy and I for a practice ride was like trying to walk on water! So it turned out the only day either of us could do was Saturday… the day before the London to Brighton. The practice ride (which Dave watched in hysterics) we cycled the tandem from Esher to Clapham Common which took us a very long, uncomfortable and near fatal four hours!
Armed with as many snacks as we could carry, padded bottoms and good humour we set off early doors from Clapham. Thankfully the practice had paid off and we weren’t as all over the shop… Me – pilot, maverick or boss, was on the front and Andy – goose, stoker or the legs, was on the back.
The cycle traffic and real traffic was horrendous! You couldn’t even wobble without hitting someone, we were not the most stable bicycle.
Once out of London we got into a rhythm (on un- aligned pedals it is actually pretty hard work). Pipping people off all the way we had a couple of wc stops and a burger break at 40miles. There were lots of accidents on route which were pretty disheartening to say the least, there were a few broken legs and lots of mechanical failures. The funniest was definitely a fella with all the gear, cruising along about to be overtaken by a mountain bike tandem weighting about 18stone (not including the passengers), high five-ing a very attractive lady on the side and losing his balance, literally falling at her feet having flown through the air.
Then came Ditchling Beacon. We hadn’t stopped on any other hills even though it seemed to be the common practice to stop. We were in the right mind set and we went past anything in our way even rolling over people if necessary. It is a mean hill and the debris it creates with people falling off stopping the majority of people walking made it feel like 10mins of war zone but we made it up at pace it was a great effort.
Having made it to Brighton to meet up with the team we had a well deserved coke and set off for the journey home. This was naïve as it was mean on the way back, the roads were open, I was navigating (always a flaw) and we were tired.
The food was running low, we were just surviving on sweets. Having managed to sit on a stinging nettle the ride was definitely not comfortable anymore. We were running out of time dramatically as I only had roughly 15mins to be fed before I totally flipped out! I don’t do well without a regular feeding time.
Luckily Charles (brother) escorted us along the motorway, the country off road paths, hills and beautiful country towns.
Clambering under fencing and jumping ditches we finally arrived home at 9 o’clock. Having left my house that morning at 7:15 it was one of the longest cycle days I have ever participated in and a massive 115miles on a tandem that I can’t even dream of lifting.
Thanks to Sam my Physio (from Physio World) I have had an easy recovery without any pain, oh well that’s not including the actually physio session itself! Poor Sam nearly got kicked more than once as it was a painful IT band session.