London to Brighton with the Vintage cars

Sun 3 Nov 2013

Seven fantastic riders escorted me to the South Coast today and it was a lovely ride. Perhaps the best ever Brighton ride I’ve done. So thank you all very much. You were great company and great cyclists.

Seven of us set off from Bromley South for East Croydon. We met Linda en route and got to Croydon at about ten to nine. The hope was we would meet up with other riders here but it was not to be. In fact there were so few cyclists about and there was so little internet traffic about the Vintage Car Run I began to doubt that I had the date right.

Anyway as soon as we got on the road we located the old jalopies majestically chugging and chuffing southwards on the A23.

Bromley South

Bromley South

Despite a bit of a strong crosswind the cycling conditions were nearly idyllic and we were soon bowling along at fair old rate, the bikes merrily eating up the miles.

Somewhere south of Redhill we stopped for bacon rolls, a cup of tea and a comfort break. It was only twenty to eleven, this was fantastic progress compared to previous years.

The original intention was to stop for some lunch at Crawley but on arrival it was far too early and we determined to press on and stop wherever we happened to be at one o’clock.

Just South of Gatwick Airport there is a seriously nasty bit of the route, even the classic cars must fear this very fast section of road with motor vehicles mercilessly roaring past and letting rip loud horn blasts to clear their way through. One particularly leary motor-cyclist passed by shouting at us; a little further on he had pulled over to have another go and we were delighted to discover he was not calling abuse but a friendly greeting as it was our very own Steve Watkin on a ride to the seaside – so that was a nice surprise (I think he secretly wished he was riding with us).

At twenty to one we arrived at Handcross and decided that this was sufficiently close to the hour to justify a lunch stop, where we regaled each other with camping stories and other nonsense. The pub whichname I forget was welcoming enough and the fare was reasonable but we were reluctant to hang around and stiffen up so we were less than an hour before we hit the road again. It wasn’t long before we suffered our only puncture of the day and in truth we made pretty short work of it and were soon on way again.

In the past we have always somehow missed the sneaky right turn at Claygate which crosses over the roaring four lanes of the A23 and delivers us onto a lovely gentle cycle lane into Brighton. We found it today and although we had to wait a while while two riders who had overshot recovered their tracks we were able to use this nice quiet route into town and to the pier. We arrived shortly after three thirty. Fantastic.

Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier

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