bikebritain's 'Brighton Blowout'
Genus - and False Starts
Since Winter arrived, myself and Swazy have been going on some 'urban' evening rides around Brighton. Brighton is on our doorstep and a few hours each week it provides the backdrop for us to retain some miles in our legs. There are many great things about Brighton, but from a cycling perspective it offers a mix of challenges. It's flat along the seafront, but the moment you start heading remotely North you will run into a hill sooner rather than later. Then you can start putting these hills all together and get quite a tasty route. So I began thinking of one last challenge before 2010 was out - and I came up with 'bikebritain's Brighton Blowout'. 1000 meters climbing over the stiffest hills we can find in Brighton, ridden in an orientation that resembles something close to a sensible route. I am quite picky when it comes to route planning - I hate retracing my steps - and some of these hills are quite close together. Nevertheless after a few hours studying Google Earth, making a short list of the hills to climb and fashioning into a rideable route, we're finally ready! The date is Monday 20th December, there's snow/ice outside and I'm hoping sometime between now and the 31st we'll get a chance to make a proper attempt.
Actually, due to seasonal illness and other 'out-of-our-control' events we had two dates planned where the 'Blowout' should have occurred - but didn't. Fast-forward to January 22nd - it's dry - and grey - but we are ready! All systems go! We have our moment. I've already stocked up on a few bacon sandwiches - (the food of champions) - so I'm feeling good. I'm kitted out in the gear - it's chilly out so my overshoes are shoe-horned on and there's not an inch of flesh to be seen> the GPS is live - and I'm off to Swazy's house. A brief skip along the seafront and 7 clicks later I should be there......
Perfect timing for my first puncture then! Quite annoying, as I had only just changed the tyres over to Conti GP 4 Seasons. Front inner had had it though. Out with the spare, wheel off and immediately managed to cover myself in 'black' bike 'stuff'. Just like normal.10 minutes later, I was back on the road, having used my Park Tools pump for the first time in anger. (Still not sure whether I like it attached to the top bar. Can apply 90 PSI apparently though). Got to Swazy's, foot pumped another something PSI into the front and we were off, for real. The 10% King George IV was our first hill, segue into the climb to Devil's Dyke. The road surface is dreadful but we climbed it ok....but there was already moisture in the air. I really didn't fancy doing the blowout in the rain. That's pushing it. We got to the top and free-wheeled down the other side, in readiness for the Saddlescoombe Road. It's short but sharp and Swazy took the lead. Another one completed. We rode down Dyke Road turned left and headed back up Woodland Avenue completing a mini-loop. At the top we descended to London Road. It was dry and it felt good to have 3 hills finished. In my world, Stanford Avenue was the longest hill. To be fair, I also had an advantage on this one. It was the only hill I had not climbed with Swaze, so i knew what to expect. It's a sneaky hill, it levels off and climbs again......you've just got to plug away at it. Frank didn't have this benefit and found it tough going. The end was deceptive..it just seemed to go on for ages. At the top we turned left for 'Phase 2' of our ride. The next time we were here, we would be going home.
Descending Carden Avenue on a bike is very exciting. It's a hill of no consequence, insofar as no roads join it on the left hand side, allowing you to hack down as hard as you can. Great fun. Unfortunately, Bear Road awaited. This was quite steep; 11%, 130 meters vertical climb. Slow, steady start, levels off with a steep finale. Tough. You're blowing at the top, but are greeted with a good view of the Channel. Swazy led the way from start to finish, a terrific effort. From here we turned back into Brighton, ready for the next challenge; Elm Grove. Another relatively long hill we climbed back up to Brighton Racecourse, only to head back down towards the seafront once more! This time Freshfield Road was the target - attained - ending up at the seafront. When the Tour De France came to Brighton about 20 years ago - they climbed Wilson Avenue, (in about a flash), and that was next for us. By now our legs were burning - we had covered some ground. The toughest element of this hill is the start. It levels off in the middle, but gets steeper at the end. I climbed it first, took a couple of photos then Swazy overtook me, claiming a green on the lights at the top. It was evil trying to catch him. The wind was against us (again) and my legs were tired.
3 To Go!
Cowley Drive, Woodingdean, goes up - and up - and up again. Actually, it was our longest vertical climb - approx 150 meters. We were both breathing hard - and with half the hill to go! It didn't matter though. It's not as if we were going to stop! We commanded an impressive view at the top and Frank suggested we sweep down Falmer Road, past the new Brighton football stadium and climb Carden Avenue that way. 5 minutes later we were there. Of all the hills we did, this was my least favourite. It just gets steeper and steeper, plus it's a busy road and by now the light was failing. It had not rained 'properly' which we were grateful of...but it was still a nasty one. We toiled our way to the top and coasted down through Hollingbury on our way to Mill Hill. The final hill.
Mill Hill runs parallel to the A27. It meets the A27 at the Hove interchange and is a 'local' route - ie, not used that much. Again, it's steep in places - bur we knew we had done this a couple of times before so we knew what to expect. One final push, smoke bellowing from our lungs and headlights dazzling us as we climbed, we finally got there! Tired, but pleased, we took a photo to mark the occasion and congratulated ourselves. We had completed it pretty much non-stop (other than punctures and traffic lights), and we were still smiling. I said to Swazy we should do it again in the Summer. I'm sure you could do it in 3 1/2 hours in the right conditions.......he said maybe! bikebritain's Brighton Blowout - DONE!
In order, the route was as follows:
1. King George IV - up to Devil's Dyke
2. Saddlescoombe Road
3. Woodland Avenue
4. Stanford Avenue (from London Road to the top of Carden Avenue)
5. Bear Road
6. Elm Grove
7. Freshfield Road
8. Wilson Avenue
9. Cowley Drive
10. Carden Avenue
11. Mill Road
Total Ride time - 3:59.03
Stationary Time - 39:35
Average Speed - 20.80 km
Distance - 82.86 km
Fastest Speed - 67.64 km
Climb - 1133 meters
Total Calories - 2459
Thumbnail and Slider Photo Credit - bikebritain ltd