Following the success of my London to Paris experience, I decided to embark on a shorter distanced ride to Brighton the Saturday after we arrived back from mainland Europe. It is 'only' 52 miles, but there is one daunting task that I just had to try - The Beacon. A category 4 climb. I had never attempted a category 4 before, and I knew that it was going to be tough given the amount of stories I had heard from numerous colleagues at work.
The one thing I did notice as soon as I was outside the M25 was how lovely the countryside is. It is very easy to forget how beautiful England actually is, by living in London. However, the lovely countryside was outdone by the state of the country roads. They were shocking, compared to those in France. My hands were still shaking days later, following the turbulent time they received for a solid 30 miles of rugged tarmac.
There are also two category 5 climbs along this trip, which are there purely to wear you down before you arrive at the beacon. They are the equivalent of a boxers jabs, slowly wearing you down before he hits you with a big right hand! The two hill climbs are quite well spread out in terms of distance though, which gave me enough time to recover, but I had still put some effort in and they both certainly had an affect once I had reached the monstrosity that some call the beacon.
You can see the beacon as soon as you begin to make your way down through the village of Ditchling. It dominated the horizon, and I looked at it and let out a small noise along the lines of 'bugger'. I have since read that the key to climbing, is to remain calm. I remember been anything but calm at this stage. For some reason I got butterflies in my stomach, and became very short of breathe, which made it all the harder. That all disappeared once I began to climb though. I was actually very surprised as to how close cars are too you throughout the climb. Infact, a que soon formed behind me, almost as though they wanted to see if I would make it to the top! That, along with a fellow cyclist who decided to catch me up and then chat to me on the way up got me through the climb. I have never felt such a sense of achievement as I did once at the peak of Ditchling Beacon. I could taste the sea and as the law of gravity dictates, what goes up must come down!
Once at the top, it is a lovely decent into Brighton from there. A just reward for all the effort to get to the top without getting off.
My total time was just short of 4 hours I think, but that was mainly down to stopping constantly to check the route (I had no GPS). I fully intend to do it again very soon, hopefully with Rob and Josh in tow this time! Let battle commence again!!
Route map can be found by clicking on the respective hyper linked words