Day 13: London to Tunbridge Wells, 55 miles

Posted on: Thursday, 23 June 2011 by Toby Carroll in category Cycle ride

This is the last blog - and it seems sad to be writing it. However, we've had a great time and most importantly raised some serious funds for Transaid.

Thank you to all involved

Sincere thanks to everyone who has been so generous in sponsoring individuals and special thanks to the businesses who have given so generously in kind: Ceva for their three superb drivers - Larry, Steve and Ian; Citroen for the vehicles; Tradeteam for the fuel; Stena for the ferries; and especially FTA for the enormous commitment both organisationally and financially to make sure the event happened.

The ride wouldn't have worked without the efforts of Chris, Dzintra, Nikki and Gordon who all performed beyond the call of duty.

We have raised a good sum of money - conservatively £30k but probably a good bit more and I still hope for £50k. We will let you know when we know.

The launch of FTA’s Cycling Code

Today’s ride was fun but dragged out a bit because of a long lunch break, tough terrain for a few of the riders and a slow departure out of London. St Paul’s was an excellent venue to start from and it was great to have multiple photo opportunities with both Peter Hendy and Kulveer Ranger - Boris's right-hand men. The launch of the Cycling Code went well and here's hoping it makes a difference.

Police escort through London

The police motorbike escort to Southwark was a nice touch from Gordon, as were the police cyclist who shepherded us out to Elephant and Castle as we headed south towards Penge.

Sean's route out of London was superb - only a cycling commuter would have known those routes - but the mixed abilities and the size of the group meant we kept losing folk off the back. Nikki delivered a swift bollocking to the group 8 miles in and the etiquette for handling changes of direction at route intersections was clarified.

Marcus had a few pace issues at 15 miles and old knee injuries reared their head and so off to the van his bike went. With the prospect of a few hills before lunch Chantelle also hitched a ride.

Sandwiches in the rain at the Beaver Cafe

And then after 22 miles we got to the Beaver Café - staffed by tortoises not hares - and we then had the longest lunch ever with the last meal served 5 minutes before we set off again. Always pays to be first to the cafe on a bike ride.

Stuart - who works for Sainsbury's - must know some Royalty ‘cos he wasn't carrying cash so was subbed. Prize for the strangest delicacy was the fish finger sandwich - a new one on me. At least the long delay meant we missed the deluge.

Hairpin bend + rain = pile up

Then off we went heading for Chalk Pit Lane - with everyone briefed on the poor state of the road and the wet conditions and the hairpin bend at the bottom.... and at that point we lost Jim who hit a patch of sand and gravel and careered into the side of the road and was then taken out by a fellow out-of-control cyclist who careered into Jim’s bike. And that was the end of Jim’s bike ride.

Testing hills

At 40 miles, as the hills came thick and fast, two or three of the boys fell off the back and didn't return. John was beaten by a couple of hills and was rested briefly before coming back to tackle the end of the ride. Alan suffered a pulled muscle and struggled on manfully before admitting defeat and retiring for the last few miles

We arrived at Tunbridge Wells to a rapturous welcome and some pretty nice food.

Thanks to all for your support.

See more pictures from day 13

Find out about FTA's Transaid Cycle Challenge

day 13

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