22 November 2012

To Brighton for the sunset

With the days getting shorter and the temperatures dropping, I've had to make an adjustment to my riding patterns. I've learned that I start to get pretty miserable after about six or seven hours in the cold, so my strategy for winter is shorter rides, pushing the pace a bit.

We were looking for a good route this past Sunday that didn't require too much prep work and that we could finish before dark, even with a bit of a late start. When we realised that it's been over a year since we last cycled to Brighton, the decision was easy.

We did get quite a late start, not getting on the road in East Croydon until 11am. It was worth it for the extra sleep in the morning but it did mean we'd need to keep an eye on the clock as it would start to get dark just about five hours later.

Lovely view from the North Downs

It was a gorgeous sunny day, if a bit chilly with a high of about 9 C (48 F). Our route took us out of London over Farthing Downs and into the countryside, where we saw a good number of cyclists out despite the chill in the air.

I had committed to pushing the pace to help keep my fitness up over the winter, but as Alberto had 200km in his legs from the day before, it turned out that our paces were, for basically the  first time in history, pretty well matched. So we went along at a comfortable pace, not taking it easy but not at our absolute limits either.

The main obstacle of the day (besides the North and South Downs of course!) was a very muddy Stubpond Lane which was not very fun to tackle on skinny tires. I nearly slipped several times and ended up walking bits. After making it through that gauntlet I had to stop and remove several inches of mud and leaves from underneath my fork bridge.

Bike operation.
Apart from that we enjoyed a thoroughly pleasant day, though always keeping an eye on the time. I found Ditchling Beacon less difficult than previous times, although still pretty taxing, and we arrived at the seafront in Brighton with the GPS reading "Sunset in 0 hours 8 minutes." We walked onto the beach and enjoyed the sunset, followed by a bacon bap at our favorite, cyclist-friendly establishment in Brighton, the Madeira.

Watching the sunset from Brighton beach.
A great ride revisiting an old favorite, made even better by the fact that the weather continues to smile on us this autumn. If only it would stay this way.

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