Monday, June 18, 2007

The Ride of My Life

Life has been so hectic lately that I hardly know where to start with the backlog of potential blogging material that has accumulated. Adventures in Brazil, training for (and successfully completing) the London to Brighton Bike Ride, a spate of live music exploits, a growing addiciton to Crackbook, er, I mean Facebook, writing freelance music and book reviews for various websites and magazines, as well as holding down a 9-5 job, has meant that my self-indulgent 'life journal' writing has been put on a bit of a back-burner, which I plan to try and rectify this week. But while I'm still buzzing from yesterday's big bike ride, I shall share a few thoughts about the day...

As most of my friends are well aware, I managed to avoid, and indeed consciously spurn, any kind of meaningful exercise for the best part of 30 years - unless of course you count the drunken flailing that happens when I hit the dancefloor. So when I decided to start cycling 8 miles to work in Lewes last year, the result was something of a revelation. I surprised myself by actually enjoying it! After several months of two-wheeled commuting, I found myself bursting with energy and several dress sizes smaller. My friend Mat also cycles to work - about 6 miles - and we both thought it would be fun to put our calf muscles to the test by doing a sponsored ride, so the London to Brighton seemed the obvious choice. As well as cycling, we both also share a passion for dressing up, and couldn't resist the opportunity to show off in front of thousands of fellow cyclists, not to mention the many appreciative spectators:

Me and Mr Smith as Penelope Pitstop &the Hooded Claw

Having opted for the earliest start time - 6am - we stayed over with friends in London the night before, and were up and raring (well, almost) at 4.45am. There was a bit of a queue at Clapham Common, and we finally got away around 6.45, after an hour or so of jolly banter and people-watching. The first couple of hours was slow-going, with narrow country lanes causing several bottlenecks, and less able cyclists struggling with some tiny hills, holding us all back. Eventually the roads opened up, and the riding became more pleasurable, especially with the beautiful Surrey and Sussex scenery rolling past. We made a few 'comfort' stops at various official refreshment points, and eventually cruised across the finish line at about 1pm, feeling smugly triumphant as a crowd of well-wishers cheered us in. Mat had cause to feel extra pleased with himself, as he managed to cycle up all of the notoriously steep and lengthy Ditchling Beacon, where most people choose to get off and push. I got about half-way and was seized by an unfortunate cramp in the groin, so I reluctantly joined the walkers, jumping back on for the last 100 yards or so to the top, where Mat was sat on a bank, having a well-earned rest and enjoying the lovely views.

The atmosphere all day was generally friendly and excitable, with only a few 'serious' cyclists seeming to resent the rest of us 'amateurs', grumpily speeding past and ignoring the Marshals' instructions to"keep to the left". I felt proud of my body for holding out, and especially for not hurting too badly today. In fact my legs and bum are fine - bizarrely, it's my shoulders and upper back which are suffering most. But despite the mild discomfort, I can really understand how people get addicted to this sort of thing, and am already thinking about what my next bike adventure will be. Perhaps a cycling holiday rather than another sponsored event, at least for a little while. My friends and family have been very generous in their donations, and it would be rather cheeky to ask them to cough up again too soon! In fact, I exceeded my £100 target by £115, raising £255 in total. So, a big "thank you" to everyone who sponsored me. Anyone else who would like to contribute, can still do so at:

More photos of the event can be seen at my Flickr page:

Brazil blog coming soon...

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