We’ve been looking forward to this one…
The Target TB Loop has a cracking route, making the most of the lovely lanes and testing climbs between Brighton and London. But it’s also for a charity, in Target TB, that we like a lot. Yes it’s a great cause, with the stated objective of a “world free from TB”, but they’re also just such jolly nice people! So expectations are high for a fantastic weekend.
This ride is particularly special as Julian Baker, one of the less fit and sporting minded of our support team, is taking part. For him, this will be tough!
The weather this year is kind to us, with sunshine greeting the riders on Brighton seafront on Saturday morning. We have seven riders on the team who will be marshalled by two of our, er, more experienced Ride Managers, Peter King CBE, former Chief Exec of British Cycling, and Tony Congdon, owner of Pedal Medic.
Although plenty happens on Stage 1 of the ride, the day is dominated by an old lady taking exception to Julian’s need for a “natural break” before chasing him first on foot with her dog and then in her car. On paper now it sounds funny, but at the time, with her shouting “I’m going to get him” we were lucky to avoid a serious road rage incident.
Other “highlights” of the day included: a competition between Stu and Steve to see who could fall off the most times and then publicise each others calamity to the most people via Twitter and Facebook; a terrific sandwich and chips lunch at the Six Bells in Newdigate, a great first climb of Box Hill with Carrie just taking the honours; and ice creams at the top while we enjoyed the view back to the South Downs before heading off to London for the end of the stage.
As is the tradition on this event, our overnight stop was the luxurious Lensbury Hotel in Teddington where a few beers and a nice dinner (mostly vast quantities of roast chicken which seems to be a speciality of the hotel), was enjoyed by all as we reflected on the events of the day.
After a humid night, Day 2 was expected to be even hotter and the importance of taking on plenty of fluids and using hydration tabs was stressed to all the riders. Plenty of sun-cream was also applied.
A nice early start meant the roads were quieter and the group made quick work of Bushey Park, Hampton Court and Esher before heading towards Box Hill for a the second time. On this occassion Carrie was pegged back by Stu on the climb, no doubt fuelled by his consuming his own body-weight in roast chicken the night before. But everyone fought their way to the top again and then enjoyed a coffee at the National Trust café.
The next few hours were reasonably uneventful with lunch at The Dragon in Colgate, another little fall for Steve and a puncture for Paul. But everyone knew what awaited them… Devil’s Dyke – and this tough South Downs climb was increasingly on the minds of the riders as we got closer to Brighton.
It’s safe to say that all found the climb hard, even Stu, Carrie, Steve and Mark, the first riders to the top. But the real pain was being experienced by the others, by Paul, by Anthony and by Jules. But they never gave up and using the odd stop to recover, all managed to get to the top and enjoy the spectacular views over the south coast.
It was then the final decent into a very busy Brighton and the finish in front of a big crowd of friends, family and bemused tourists.
This was a huge effort by everyone. The route isn’t the easiest and hot conditions made it even harder. But this was one of the happiest and friendliest teams we’ve had and they got on like a house on fire, supporting and ribbing each other in equal measure.
And it was great fun and very rewarding for us to. As I wrote to Lynne Stevens of Target TB the very next day:
Driving alongside the riders on the seafront, all in orange, with the sun shining, Daft Punk on the stereo motivating them and passers-by straining to see who they were, it really struck me that this is what these rides are all about… nice people doing something they can be proud of while raising money and awareness for causes that don’t always receive that much coverage or funding.
And with over £7,000 raised already from the event, it’s a very well done to Carrie, Stu, Steve, Mark, Anthony, Paul and Jules. You’ve done something you can be very proud of.
Ride report and photographs