First on the list of achievements in the past two weeks, on Sunday 19th June, I had an amazing time cycling from London to Brighton in order to raise money for the British Heart Foundation! Thanks so much to everyone who came to support us along the route and everyone who sent in a donation too (more on that later), and as promised, here's how it all went (mostly) down:
Prepping myself with an early night of 9pm, I awoke at around 3:30am after some pretty broken sleep to get ready and munch down a hefty bowl of porridge. At 5am, half the team arrived in a pickup truck with our bikes ready to head off to the starting line at Clapham Common over an hour's drive away. Watching the sun-rise was beautiful as we rode up there, and despite very little sleep, I was feeling wide awake and ready to take the 54 mile ride with a smile! We reached the starting area around 6:15am, unloaded and reassembled our bikes then headed towards the main event where our team of 8 was finally assembled: My Dad who organised the team, my Uncle Tim, my next door neighbour Andy, my dad's friend Rod who organised the pick-up truck, Pete who was a part of our team for the London to Paris until he broke his wrist on the practice ride and couldn't take part (great to be riding with him again), Pongsak a family friend and owner of our local go-to Thai shop and restaurant, my twin brother Eamon, and finally myself. After a quick stretch and some photos we lined up in the starting block ready for the 7am start. I have NEVER seen so many cyclists in my life and hearing the cheers of everyone and over 2000 bike bells dinging in cacophony was an incredibly emotional experience. Countdown to zero and as instructed, we walked over the start line to mount our bikes on the road. A quick check to make sure we were together, then we began what would be a fantastic ride.
As soon as I started riding though, I realised my breaks weren't working properly, but by then a lot of the team had zoomed off into the distance, and even before we'd made it 2 miles into the ride, I'd already got a flat tire... Good thing my dad and Pete were there, because while I had a spare inner tube, I had no pump... The changeover was pretty swift though and within 15-20 minutes we were back on the road heading south again. Great start!
It was an amazing experience riding with so many other people but a little nerve-racking too. You'd be surprised (or not) how inconsiderate some people can be for something which is NOT a race, weaving in and out of other cyclists with no warning, undertaking and zooming past with only a few inches gap (not to mention ignoring traffic laws...). I didn't see any, but there were a few accidents along the way apparently. Certainly though, there were lots of helpful marshals along the route to guide the cyclists safely in the right direction and give more help if people needed it.
There were plenty of break stops along the way too, though our team didn't stop for many at all (mainly just to refill water bottles). After passing through London, the scenery was lovely countryside, a fair few uphills, which I mostly managed to stay on my bike for (see later), and some AMAZING downhills! It was amazing to see people sitting on the streets waving at the passing cyclists and cheering us on as we passed through each town too. As we passed my hometown of Burgess Hill, lots of our neighbours and relatives were waiting at Ditchling Common to greet us and hand out tasty homemade flapjacks. I remember waiting there last year when my dad and Pongsak rode the London to Brighton together. It's great to be on the bike this time around!
Shortly after that came the infamous 46th mile of the ride, the perilous road to Ditchling Beacon (the highest point in Sussex). Known in the local area and for bike riders as one of the steepest (and long for the steepness) roads you can ride, this long and winding track ascends 158 meters in a mile and even if you haven't just ridden 45 miles is one killer hill! Needless to say I was skeptical I'd be able to do it without getting off and walking, but after seeing my dad start walking it, I figured I should just catch up to him before I dismounted to push my bike up. Well after a while of pedaling frantically, I realised I was NOT going to catch up and so I dismounted to walk, though I DID NOT stop walking. You'd think that walking it would be whole lot easier too, but when you're pushing a bike up a hill that steep, you really start to question which is easier, walking or cycling... there were a fair few people stopped halfway because it's that difficult a hill even pushing! Funny thing was, at the beginning there were lots of people cycling, but gradually as you got higher, more people were walking until you got to the top and 90+% of people were walking across the final bump. Fortunately that was the hardest part of the ride and that rest of it was plain sailing and downhill to the seafront from there!
Of course, my Uncle and my bro managed to pedal up there no problem. Mega props to them!
After that it was a steady but windy ride across the plateau that is the South Downs before descending rather steeply into Brighton (so much so that we broke the speed limit, I shouldn't be saying so proudly!). The last few miles was a steady straight to the seafront where we regrouped the team efficiently before being greeted quite suddenly by thousands of people on Brighton Seafront cheering all the cyclists to the finish line. We even got medals (and a bottle of water) when we finally crossed it together at around 1:30pm! It was an intensely emotional experience and I'm so happy to have been able to share it with the whole team especially with my dad and brother for Father's Day. The weather couldn't have been better either. What a fantastic day!
I was pretty zonked out after that so I ended up going to bed at 7pm! It was a great and well deserved rest and of course, my legs were achy like heck for a few days afterwards (but no way near as much as the next challenge! More on that next week)!
PHOTO: My Dad and I (waving) leaving off after the family meet-up at Ditchling Common: >>>>
Well, after all that hard work and training and all your generous donations, I'm pleased to announce that we managed to raise a grand total of £94.68 for the British Heart Foundation, which once Gift Aid has been added will just about exceed my target of £100! Thanks so much to everyone who contributed, not just monetarily, but also by sharing your support on Facebook, Twitter, Emails and here, it really means a lot. Will I be doing this bike-ride again? Well it's not set in stone yet, but I'd love to at some point in the future if I can! Probably not next year, but we'll just have to wait and see! There's lots of other places I'd like to cycle to!
In other JabunAudio news, 2 of the animations I worked on with Fun Station 4 Kids have hit some huge milestones recently! First up, the channel's debut animation and my debut animation project too, "The Dinosaur Alphabet", just surpassed a whopping 8 MILLION views on YouTube! Secondly, one of our more recent animation projects "Learning Shapes with Baby T-Rex" just hit 1 MILLION views on YouTube as well! Thanks for all the support and love on the Fun Station 4 Kids channel and we hope to bring you some more Dinosaur related lessons and stories soon!
That's all I have to say this week (since the blog post is already very long), but stay tuned for next week for part 2 of 2 of my energetic June: "Climbing Galdhøpiggen: The highest Mountain in Northern Europe!" It was SPECTACULAR but also a pretty crazy story too. Until next week, I hope you all have a good time and thanks as always for supporting my projects and JabunAudio! Take care and see you soon!