London to Brighton was an experience that I’ll never forget.
After 5 months and 1,500 miles of training, I lined up on the start line at 07:45 in Clapham Common, on 11 September 2022 to complete the 55-mile route to Brighton.
Despite having only 4 hours of sleep, I’d never felt so alive.
Today was my cup final. Having already raised £396, today was the day I would give back to people who kindly donated to my C-R-Y fundraising campaign.
I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I was going to be tested physically, emotionally, and mentally.
This unknown didn’t matter though, as I believed in the training that I did, the people who I was supporting, my friend, and the other cyclists whom I’d be sharing this incredible journey with.
Those beliefs reassured me of any concerns, but also reminded me of a quote I was told during my training. This quote was “Mindset is everything”.
Everyone was raring to go and what a day for it. Dry conditions with sunlight and a gentle breeze. Perfect.
As we made our way out of London’s relatively flat roads and gradual ascents, we entered the first scenic parts of the route, as well as some hills.
These hills and climbs were early signs of what to expect, which made finding the right gear and approach key.
After the first rest stop, I was buoyed by the fact that my friend and I were nearly a third of the way through.
There was still plenty of cycling left to do, as the next rest stop was 13 miles away. This stretch of the route was adorned in hills, climbs, ascents and more in relative succession, and with little time for recovery.
A gruelling test, you could see the impact on fellow cyclists.
They say that sometimes we’re tested not to show our weaknesses, but to discover our strengths.
Seeing the determination of the cyclists to navigate these hills and climbs in aid of their chosen charities, loved ones, and more, had reminded me that we were all here for a reason.
In hindsight, the charity ride didn’t feel like an individual event. It felt like we were a group of cyclists doing something amazing for people who dedicate their time to helping others in need. In some ways, or a lot of ways, it felt like an honour.
The second rest stop came at 30 miles, and I used that time to reflect, stretch, hydrate, and fuel myself for the next 18 miles.
As the miles went by, my friend and I could feel the complaints from my legs. However, it’s how you talk to yourself in those moments that makes all the difference.
At mile 48, we reached the top of Ditchling Beacon Hill. It was a fantastic relief as we tackled the hardest part of the ride and were rewarded with some of the most beautiful scenery – and ice-cream!
A five-mile descent followed with scenic views of Brighton, and its surrounding areas, had made me forget about the pain I was feeling as I looked around myself in awe.
As we ventured into Brighton, what we had done was starting to dawn on us. It felt like we were parading through the city as people had stopped, looked, waved and cheered. We’d made it.
I remember the final ring road of the route leading onto the home straight. It was awash with banners, people, noise and most importantly, the finish line.
Feeling the crowd for that whole stretch – whilst in a three-person sprint – is something that I’ll never forget.
After it was all over, I collected my medal. When I look at my medal, I feel it’s not what it is, it’s what it represents.
Whatever that is, I look forward to finding it out.
Finally, they say that when you help someone, you also help yourself. I’d like to place on record my sincere thanks to the C-R-Y charity, my friends and family who helped me a long the way.
You are all incredible people and inspire me to do better every day.