London to Brighton bike ride

No, don’t be silly, although I did complete it once in 1990, the year that I bought my first house.  Maybe next year?

I’ve felt a general malaise over the last couple of weeks and I would have AGAIN happily not run… but for two things.  One, the need to write and two, the fact that there is now officially going to be a Brighton Marathon next year.  Places can be booked from Tuesday and I figured that if I couldn’t demonstrate to myself that I could overcome a little lethargy, I really shouldn’t be entering.

Lifting my legs as I ran off down the road required a huge effort and I thought this was going to be a short run indeed.  Since the bike ride was on though, I thought I should at least go across and see the fun before I threw in the towel.  I ran down through the new Folders Keep for the first time (last time I went through that way it was a waterlogged meadow) and across the the cyclists route.  There were more bikes going past than I expected for 9.40am.

Then I headed for Ditching on the east side of the road, round behind all the garden centres.  It was to be a farmyard experience.  First up, the young cows, which I came face to face with as they barred my way.  Ususally cows get out of my way, but this morning it was as if I had ‘breakfast’ written all over me and followed me on the other side of a fence before pushing forward to see how I tasted.  Spooked, I backed off and they decided to show what a great team they were by heading off around the perimeter of the field.  In a thundering, tight group.  As they headed back to where I first encountered them, I picked up my skirts and ran across the field for the next stile.

Further along I came upon a small flock of lambs, who crowded around me as if I still had the ‘breakfast’ sign lit.  As I stepped over a stile they tried to reach through to take my waterbottle and as I moved it back I startled them, otherwise this photo would be far sweeter.

Yet further along I was harrassed by some chickens who also chased after me… what’s going on here?

Finally I made it to Ditchling and there was a certain irony when the Marshall controlling the traffic at the crossroads waved the cars across just as I was about to run through following some cyclists as they whizzed through the village…. ‘sorry mate, I didn’t see you’.

I think you’ll have realised that by now I was past the lethargy and whilst not running strong, I was committed to Ditchling Beacon.  I took my favourite path up, getting admiring comments from some walkers and as I neared the top I dropped onto the road rather than get tangled in the spectators.  Unused to running on tarmac, I verily zoomed up, overtaking all the cyclists that were there and getting some funny glances from all concerned.

Making the Beacon at the 1 hour 7 minute mark, I turned back around and headed down again, this time down the next track to Westmeston.  From here I ran along Underhill Lane and turned right onto a new (to me) track that took me back to Ditchling.  Via a field with some hungry horses that ambled after me.

I then retraced my steps behind all the garden centres, noting a small room with a view en-route.

As I ran down a piece of unused road near St Georges Retreat, I tripped.  I’m forever reminding my parents that they need to exercise their quads to help stop them falling over when they trip, but even my well-exercised, if tired, quads did not save me this time.  I ran forward, trying desperately to gain control with my hands close enough to the ground to touch it, but realising that a crash was inevitable, I jettisoned my water-bottle and dropped into a low and uncomfortable roll.

I lay there, laughing and busily trying to take a photo as a couple with their daughter and two dogs walked gently up.  Sniggering.  It was quite satisfying that I had at least had an audience, even though I had to jump up before the dogs tucked in to my face.

Short run back across the increasingly fuller flow of cycles and back home for 2 hours, 17 minutes.

12.2 miles at 5.3mph.  NOW I feel lethargic, although at least I can enter the marathon with impunity!


I knew it was a mistake to tell Clive about the recent article I had read, which said that being stung by stinging nettles cures hayfever.

Anyway, it is fair to say that after the late night before, there was a groggy start to the morning after.  Still, despite the forecast of rain for the weekend, it was a beautiful & sunny day, so after the usual banana and quadruple espresso, I donned my ailing runners and got with it.

Aware that it was the day of the London to Brighton Bike Ride, I had devised a rough route that would enable me to enjoy the day, see the cyclists and get back without any real drama.  Thus I headed out to Oldlands Mill and down towards Ditchling, hooking a right before I got there and dropping down to Keymer.  From there I went straight across the fields to Clayton, arriving by a different path and thus discovering a new way up to the windmills.

Having run up the hill the whole way without stopping, I allowed myself a break to walk through the car park, before resuming my run up the track towards the Beacon.  There were lots of walkers, but it was so far just another Sunday. I reached the Beacon in about one hour fifteen and the view was so beautiful that I stopped to take this video.


The London to Brighton Bike Ride crew had set up camp in the car park so I availed myself of the facilities before standing to watch the cyclists mount the last rise.  I have a video of this too, but I can’t upload it.

I then set off down the track that I normally come up.  An unusual noise alerted me to a cyclist coming down fast behind me and I stood out of the way to let him pass (he wouldn’t have been able to stop at the speed he was going!) and then I loosed off the brakes myself and hammered down.  Suprisingly I caught him at the bottom where he had paused momentarily and we had a drag race up the road – I think we were both surprised how hearty my challenge was, although he kept accelerating when I had reached ‘sprint’.

Then it was down to Sporting Cars of Brighton, up East End Lane and north along the Sussex Border Path… where the conversation with Clive came back to haunt me.  Waist high stinging nettles mixed with slippery mud and tricky styles soon had whatever hayfever I had left on the run… my legs are still itchy, but it’s not so bad really Clive.  You should try it again!

I should mention that last night he recounted a tale of being flung, wearing only shorts, into a large nettle patch when he was young… ugh!

The Border Path is a really tiresome stretch, with its myriad gates and styles and as the two-hour marker passed my energy suddenly waned, like a light going out.  I found myself thinking about not peanut butter on toast, but peanut butter and jam sandwiches… serious sugar craving!

I walked, then ran, walked then ran, walked then ran, each time getting nearer to home.  I crossed the stream of cyclists again, feeling pretty sorry for these folk who had several miles to go before they even reached the bottom of the killer Beacon hill!

Then I was across the Common and crashing through the front door snarling for food!  Not a spectacular time, but the distance was a whiff over a half marathon and out of the two hours 25 minutes, I had spent at least some time looking at the view and watching the cyclists.

The run did take its toll though.  Having eaten and quenched my thirst, I fell asleep in a chair for a couple of hours and now, having washed the car (the only other thing I’ve managed to do all day), I’m ready for an early night.