With my last day of freedom before starting my next new contract, I wanted to do something memorable. Checking up on the weather all week, Friday seemed clear enough to do a jaunt down to Brighton. I've done it a few times before, but it's always been with quite a large group of people quite a bit slower - I decided to do it today with a mate at a bit of a quicker pace (although not as quick as we'd initially hoped).
The morning didn't begin particularly positively, with a stop just 10k into the ride to check my mate's right shifter. It had jammed, leaving him in the easiest rear cog in the back. We paid a quick visit to Dean's Garage in Beckenham, where a lovely bloke called Chris helped fit a manual shifter to the crossbar - he didn't have any old school 9-speed shifters in stock.
After an hour delay, and a train to catch at 1432 from Brighton, we set off at some pace, following the initial route of the Dulwich Paragon intro ride loop that we'd done back in Jan 2014 and then heading west at it's most southerly point to join the 'official' L2B BHF route. It was a great route, and a much better way out of London that the official L2B route. I've set the route on Strava if you want to try it: https://www.strava.com/routes/3903976.
The shifter wasn't quite as 'tight' as we'd hoped - with the gears jumping at each bump unless the lever was held in place - so we couldn't really get up much of a rhythm. There was also a pretty horrible headwind through most of the way, and with greasy wet-roads and 16% downhill, there wasn't really much benefit gained from the brief downhill.
Once we'd joined up with the L2B route I realised I was finding it a bit tough - just before Lindfield I had to get out of my saddle to get up a short-sharp hill - even in my lowest gear I couldn't stay sat down. Had I lost all my cycling fitness that badly? Eek.
Just as we got past Haywards Heath and could seen the Green Monster approaching I had a bit of a revelation. I was finding the uphill surprisingly difficult, even at a relatively slow place. Checking my rear dérailleur just before getting to Ditchling, I realise that my indexing was out and I'd been missing my three top gears for the whole ride. Muppet.
It was a pretty poor ascent up the beacon. At this stage I didn't have much in the legs, and crawled up like a snail. It had been a pretty dry ride, but once at the top there was the ominous threat of rain pulling in - and a chilly breeze hitting us off the sea. We made our way down to the seafront and arrived with just under 94km covered in 4h30 of moving. Back to work on Monday!