Harry Hensby’s London to Brighton Cycling Adventure
Cycling with my dad, we set off at 08.00am and the weather was kind! I was feeling nervous but excited. We reached the first stop at 8.53am. So far so good.
At 25 miles I started to get quite bad cramps in my legs, and thought is this the ‘wall’ that everyone talks about that they hit. The cramps persisted, which meant I had to break up the cycling with walking. After several wooded sections completed and very fast downhill’s, for which I kept my eyes shut – it was 1.42pm and we had 40 miles behind us.
I just had to keep going, as now I knew it was over half way done. It was not an option ever to think about quitting, and I had made the decision before I started that even if I walked over the finish line I would complete it. The highlight of this section was my chain coming off and me blocking off the whole route for other riders, the only way to clear the route involved me jumping over a barb wired fence into a field full of sheep!!
52 miles cycled, at 3.35pm and our last main water checkpoint was at 60 miles, which shouldn’t be that far, BUT I wasn’t prepared for 8 miles of mind numbing disused railway line which zapped my mental strength significantly, and when we reached the end of the railway line it was a relief.
Now we knew it was the home straight, well kind off. With only 14 miles left to go, I seemed to now have a second wind and was motivated to finish. We had reached the bottom of the South Downs and ahead was a long, steep, rocky ascent, which very few people attempted to cycle up, and I was not one of those few. Once at the top we could now see Brighton, so the finish line was in sight.
Once in Hove we cycled along the seafront road past the docks, only 4 miles to go and the light was fading and so were my legs. I was literally exhausted and felt like I was running on empty. I asked my Dad “are we there yet?”, and he pointed to a building and said “The finish is just beyond that” I soon discovered that this was not the complete truth! As we rode past the building a Marshall said ‘Not far to go now just one mile’. That last mile was like riding in treacle.
We reached the finish line at 7.15pm and were cheered over that line by my Mum, brother and girlfriend. A portion of chips was very welcome, along with hearing that my team Cambridge United FC had won their first league match of the season and needless to say I slept all the way home. I don’t have any plans to get back on a bike any time soon!!
I would like to finish by saying a huge thank you to everyone that has supported me and sponsored me, it means a great deal. It was an amazing experience and when I am able to walk normally again, I am sure one that it will be one I will remember with pride and a massive sense of achievement!