Drawing back the curtains on day 2 revealed a sunny courtyard and the prospect of a clear, warm day ahead. Once we’d both packed our gear we headed to the bar for breakfast. We both opted for cereal to start, followed by a full english. Again, the meal was of a good standard and set us up for the day.
By 8.15am we headed out of the courtyard for Brighton – 120+ miles away. Not having done two consecutive 100+ mile days before I was pleasantly surprised at how my legs felt – like usual really, they need a few miles to loosen up and after that they’re good to go.
We followed the same format as the previous day, James in front with me following not too closely behind. The lack of rush hour traffic was a bonus as we headed south towards The Chiltern Hills. Within 12 miles we were travelling along the B4506, passing under a ridge the other side of which was Whipsnade Zoo – much better than London Zoo IMHO.
After 20 miles we turned into what looked like a large estate and I was beginning to think James had gone off course, but he assured me we hadn’t. This was the Champney’s estate, home to a very up-market fitness/spa establishment. So, of course, this was the perfect opportunity to pop in and ask to take a leak – definitely the cleanest and poshest loos I’ve ever been in!
We carried on heading south passing through Chesham and by-passing Amersham and Little Chalfont in the heart of Buckinghamshire. Soon after we hit the 35 mile marker and crossed the M25 before turning right onto the A412 (North Orbital Road). Not a pleasant single carriageway road (way too busy for my liking) that took us over the A40/M40 interchange – motorway interchanges aren’t my cup of tea! We were on that road for 9 miles and so glad to finally get off it just before Iver Heath.
After we’d crossed the M4 and A4 near Colnbrook we continued south and east of Dachet and Windsor Park. It was hereabouts we were delayed by a Roma Funeral, which blocked the road outside the church where the service was taking place, a tiny road with their lorries and vans restricting and blocking through traffic. Sorry for your loss, but your selfish parking wasn’t appreciated!
Having passed through Hythe End we took the A30 south west and turned left onto the B389 to Virgina Water. At some point we stopped at a non-descript cafe, it was so memorable I can’t think where and can’t remember what we had to eat. I think I had a coke to give me some energy. Again, I’d had nothing to eat since breakfast and it was about 1pm.
We continued on criss-crossing the M25 before turning right onto the A318 through Addlestone, Byfleet and Cobham. Traffic by now was getting lighter which was a relief. We crossed the M25 one last time before heading into and out of Leatherhead, continuing south ’til we reached the A24 where we used a cycle path that ran alongside the main road before turning off onto a much quieter country lane which took us over the river Mole, twice.
We were now back to the A24 (Mickleham Bypass). At this point I noticed my seatpost had slipped and was getting progressively lower. I was on a little bridge just at the point where the road we’d been on joined the A24. And no sooner had I started playing with the saddle height than a steady stream of traffic wanted to get over the bridge, but there wasn’t anywhere else to conveniently lean the bike – I don’t think the cars were too happy with me.
Adjustments done we made our way over the dual carriageway heading south on the B2209 looking for a left turn that would take us up to Box Hill. As we made the turn the road became silky smooth all the way to the top. Now, being just ever so slightly competitive I moved into gear, so to speak, and climbed at the brisk pace if you can call it that on a haevy winter bike fully-ladened. But having got to the top I realised I could have gone up a couple of gears. But you know how it is on a hill you’re not familiar with, pace has to be set on the cautious side. Oh well, next time I’ll do it on the summer bike and go for it.
Descending through the village of Box Hill we passed the 80 mile mark on our way down to Peeble Coombe – another 45 miles to go. e carried on south on the B2032 and ended up passing through Betchworth, Leigh, Norwood Hill and Charlwood before turning right, following the Gatwick Airport perimeter road where we got a bit lost.
Eventually, we found and crossed the A23. A few miles further on we passed the 100 mile mark. I was getting hungry again (about 6pm?) so we stopped at the next local store where I picked up a banana, mars bar and another can of coke. Only another 28 miles to go, but we still had Ditchling Beacon to climb. Burgess Hill, home of Stephen Grant (comedian and co-host of the CyclistPod podcast fame) came and went and before we knew it we were approaching the climb to Ditchling Beacon.
The climb is deceiving. It starts as a gradual incline, nothing too dramatic but about half way it starts ramping up severely, flattening out, then ramping up again and each time the gradient feels like about 15%, which fully-laden on a heavy bike isn’t much fun. It was hard, and that comes from a Peak District rider.
James wasn’t far behind and he pointed out a large football stadium in the distance, which I don’t remember the name as that’s not my thing.
The descent into the northern quarter of Brighton was long and all the more enjoyable for it. We arrived at the hotel about 8.15pm, changed (I took a couple of tramadol for my back) and we took a taxi to Wagamama’s to meet my daughter, Lucie, and her partner, Josh, for a meal. A fitting end to two long days in the saddle.
I discovered I like long-distance cycling and as a result I’ve been looking into taking part in audaxes run by Audax UK in this country. But more about that soon.