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London to Brighton Challenge

July 21, 2013

Debbie Clark is an amazing supporter of THF and has taken part in more fund-rasing events for the charity than anyone else we can think of.  She recently set her mind to cycling from London to Brighton in support of THF and writes:

I like a challenge, especially if it’s for THF. Just something to take you outside your comfort zone.

It was a 5am start on a grey morning to meet the minivan taking us to Clapham Common. I’d become an unofficial member of the Teddington Ten, thanks to friend Sue Olsen.

We had a start time of 6am, and that wDebbie Clarkas the last I saw of my group, yellow jackets fading into the sea of bikes, they’d all done this before. Wave after wave of fit and not so fit cyclists passed me on all sorts of impressive bikes. A few punctures before Tooting for some of them. My reliable hybrid plodded along. You know you’re slow when two gorillas and Scooby Doo pass you.

A few gentle hills to begin with, lulling you into a false sense of security. A pit stop or two for coffee and flap jacks, run by the local Boy Scouts and the British Heart Foundation. Friendly waves from the marshals and policemen on the route. Then the long hard ride with the real hills. Kind words of encouragement and jokes from fellow cyclists. A real feeling of companionship, we’re all in this together, even walking up the hills. It didn’t matter what time you did, getting to the end and the reason for doing it was the real achievement.

And then the laughing stopped. Ditchling Beacon, a green wall looming in the distance was sighted. The majority of cyclists didn’t even attempt to ride up. All you could hear was the click clack of cycling shoes and heavy breathing, and the occasional fit rider shouting for space to get through. A welcome tea at the top, and then the last seven miles downhill and on the flat to a sunny Brighton, was the best bit.

I was so happy to finish , I cried with relief. A final stagger to the pub to meet up with the group and find out I wasn’t the only one defeated by Ditchling Beacon. And I’m going to do it all again next year. Anyone want to join us?

Thank you so much Debbie – you are a star!

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