50 miles to happy feelings

Regular readers know that I am an avid cyclist. I rode from London to Brighton last year in order to raise money for The British Heart Foundation. This year, I decided to change the event and the Charity. This year, I rode for the Stroke Association on their Thames Bridges ride.

The ride had three routes. A family route, a standard route (35 miles) and an extended route (50 miles). I signed up for the extended route and, to my surprise, several people fancied coming with me. In the end, there were six of us who showed up to do the ride.

The start point was Soutwark Park (which is incredibly pretty) and to get there, we had to cycle over Tower Bridge. For the first time since I have lived in London, I saw Tower Bridge raised. It was an unexpected start to the day and felt like a big treat. Tower Bridge doesn’t really raise very often and I’m not really in that bit of town all that often so, if you factor in the probability factors associated with me being around when Tower Bridge is raised, they are pretty slim. I feel very privileged to have seen it.

We did eventually get to Southwark Park to start the ride. Here I am ready to go!

I was of course riding the ever faithful Daisy. It was an absolutely glorious day for cycling. the sun was shining but it was not overly warm. We were all incredibly pleased that the rain had packed it’s bags and gone away for the day.

We got cycling through central London first before working our way west. We crossed Tower Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Albert Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, Chelsea Bridge…….basically, a lot of bridges! I only stopped for pictures on bridges that I really don’t get to see often i.e. the ones in the very west of London. Here’s a little snap of me (and Daisy) on Chelsea Bridge looking rather to pleased with myself.

One of the best looking bridges we crossed, in my opinion anyway, was the Albert Bridge. It’s a stunning structure which doesn’t just out at you and say ‘Look at me aren’t I beautiful’ like Tower bridge or Southwark bridges do. Albert Bridge just sits quietly and gets on with just being a rather handsome bit of design work. Here I am presenting it to you for your enjoyment.

Anyway, we all finished the ride waaaay over in Hampton Court and still had smiles on our faces. It was a great day which not only raised money for a very good cause but also introduced me to many areas of London which I now want to cycle round a lot more often.   Here is a picture of Amy and I proudly flashing our new medals (mine now hangs next to my London to Brighton 2011 medal). I really love this photo because if you look carefully in the reflection of my sunglasses, you can also see both of the bicycles which carried us all the way.

Amy and were the most experienced cyclists in our group and did end up pelting off in front of the others (sorry guys!). We completed the 5o miles in just under 6 hours with some pretty decent rest stops and slow cycling to look at all the beautiful landmarks and nature we passed (Richmond park was particularly slow as there was not only gorgeous views but also deer!).

I’d like to thank everyone who sponsored me for the ride. It really does give you a boost knowing people are behind you willing you to do well when you’re flagging at mile number 45. So thank you for not only supporting my charity of choice but also for supporting me as I continue to do fairly ridiculous things. Stay tuned for the next instalment of cycling craziness which is scheduled in for July 12th!

As a summary, I would say the following things:

  • London to Brighton (L2B) felt like it was better organised than The Thames bridges Bike Ride (TBBR) but I do think that could be a function of the fact that there were 2000 rides for TBBR and there are around 15000 for L2B. There was noting wrong with the TBBR organisation but it just didn’t have the same atmosphere as the L2B. There were no cheering crowds or community projects along the way. Not even at the proper rest stops. I would have felt very alone if I hadn’t been cycling with Amy. As a solo ride, I would do L2B over TBBR because of this. Maybe for next year, the organisers should consider inviting some Scouts/Guides/Youth Clubs etc to the rest stops. They could bring home baked cakes and orange squash. Cyclists will pay 50p for a cake at a rest stop, trust me. It would also lift a lot of flagging spirits in the later stages.
  • Just Giving is an incredibly clunky website to administer a team through. Virgin Money Giving was much easier.
  • The TBBR was much more historically interesting. L2B was a gorgeous ride through country lanes but TBBR was more inspiring.
  • I’d ride both the TBBR and L2B again in a heartbeat
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