The Day I Conquered The Beacon

A month ago a friend and I decided to cycle to Brighton from Clapham Junction in London. We got lost and ended up doing a completely different route to the one we had planned which was 11 miles longer… It was a beautiful day, so we just enjoyed the ride – and the hills, of course!! – but we missed the infamous Ditchling Beacon.

So we decided to do it again. That day was yesterday. Another friend came with us. We had less dried fruit (great for energy, not so great for bloating!) and more 9 Bars and bananas (and peanut butter and jam sandwiches :-)). We were going to do the correct route and we WOULD do Ditchling Beacon!!

London to Brighton cycle route annotated

The route. Doesn’t look like it should be difficult to navigate, right?!

I had, rather stupidly, done a lot of intensive exercise the day before (modified Strongman training – so much fun!) and I hadn’t had a rest day for a week. Not great preparation, but knowing that the cycle wasn’t going to be as long as last time and that I’d done it once, I didn’t really worry about it. I knew I could do it.

Sadly, I felt like shit pretty much for the whole journey. We took a couple of wrong turns and ended up doing 12 miles more than we should have. My new high tech saddle kept moving and was so uncomfortable that about 50 miles in I had to stop and have a little cry. I was so close to just giving up and heading to the nearest train station.

I didn’t. I gave myself a good talking to, got a big hug from my friend, adjusted my saddle and got back on the bike towards the dreaded Beacon. (If you have no idea what the Beacon’s like, have a look on YouTube. There’s loads of videos of people attempting to get up it! Not exactly a mountain, but fucking nasty nonetheless!)

At the top of Ditchling Beacon

Me at the top of Ditchling Beacon! Felt like I’d conquered Everest…!

Amazingly, I cycled all the way up Ditchling Beacon in one go. It was slow, and I had to check with another cyclist and a hiker that I’d reached the top before I allowed myself to come to a complete standstill. But then I cheered and whooped and couldn’t stop grinning. The whole bike ride had been a nightmare for me and the sense of achievement for overcoming this made me feel like I was invincible.  Shame getting back on the bike to do the last few miles into Brighton was so shit…

But I rewarded myself with this:

Mexican burger and chips

Post-66 mile cycle ride gluttony: Mexican Burger and Chips from Dorset Street Bar. Yum!

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