No. 51: Brixton To Brighton By Boris Bike

With only two weeks to go I’ve decided to ramp up the pace for the last couple of challenges.

For this, I went in search of someone stupid enough to cycle from Brixton to Brighton with me and quickly accepted a yes from my good friend and fellow Twatt pioneer… Sergio

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We postponed this challenge last weekend due to severe hangover conditions on both our parts, but determined not to fail and fuelled by a hearty Wetherspoons breakfast we set off from Brixton at 09.31 last Saturday.

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But let me explain…

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The Boris bike is a magical creature – aptly named after the former mayor of London ‘Boris Johnson’. I say aptly because the bikes are heavy, chunky, provide the absolute bear minimum service and they are expensive to the public.

At £2 per half hour and with 55 miles ahead of us this was ultimately a race against time, with neither Sergio or I having any experience of long distance bike-riding we trundled off up Brixton Hill and into the uncertainty of the day.

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2 hours later we cleared the M25 – which is one of the best bits of downhill of the whole ride – you fly out over the crossing with the cars tearing by below and then suddenly arrive in the countryside (kind of).

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A couple of miles later we passed through Redhill where we stopped so that Sergio could send a picture to Magnus (also a fellow Twatt pioneer) in tribute to a time earlier in the year when, after a couple of drinks on a Wednesday night, Magnus woke up in Redhill Station at 1am with no trains running until morning.

Moving swiftly(ish) on towards Gatwick, we had just cleared a big roundabout when a police van pulled ahead of us and slowed – out stepped a giant bearded police man who blocked our path and demanded ‘what on earth are you two doing?’.

I tried to explain the challenge which was received with laughter and dubious sideways glances, it wasn’t until I showed them my journal that they believed we hadn’t stolen the bikes and realised that we were actually just a pair of idiots out for a very expensive bike ride… In the middle of winter.

They were good sports about it though and agreed to a photo.

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After Gatwick we stopped at a burger van to replenish – Sergio had started cramping up so I looked at the map and told him that he could split off at Crawley and jump on a train home if he didn’t want to carry on… ‘Fuck off Varley’ came his response and we pressed on with the last 22 miles.

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The sun started to set as we pedalled into the last 10 miles so we layered up and stopped for a quick bite of chocolate and some water.

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5 miles later we came to Devils Dyke – the nastiest ascent of the whole ride – in total darkness – on a 3 gear bike – that weighs 23 Kilograms. This was also the moment when Sergio’s cramp chose to escalate and his entire left leg seized up…

Propping the bikes on their kick stands, I flicked on my head torch and knelt down to start rubbing some life into Sergio’s thigh just as a car came around the corner, it’s headlights falling on two sweating, panting men on the grass verge of the road with Boris bikes, one enthusiastically rubbing the others inside leg.

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From the top of Devils Dyke, it’s a beautiful descent pretty much the whole way into Brighton – where we didn’t even stop to see the sites – we rolled into the station, stepped onto a train ten minutes later and docked the bikes back in London as soon as possible.

According to the figures from the App, the whole trip took 10 hours, 12 minutes – it cost us £40 each in bike hire and we travelled a total distance of… 4.5km!!!!!

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Which proves that Boris Johnson is a liar #Brexit.

 

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