September 6, 2012, by David Greenaway
The VC’s Life Cycle 2 Blog: Day 13 – Winchester to Eastbourne
We passed 1,000 miles today, at Rottingdean, east of Brighton. It was a great feeling, that’s a lot of miles in a saddle.
We had a comfortable night in a Hall of Residence at the University of Winchester. No breakfast was available, so the Support Team rustled up a Bunkhouse style offering from what was in the van. It worked fine and we were all on the road together by around 0820.
Yes, for the first time since Cape Wrath we set off together.
Our leg rider today was Jack Swannel, who works for IntoUniversity, partners in our Nottingham Potential Centres in Broxtowe and St Anne’s. Jack has cycled John O’Groats to Land’s End himself, and coped well with what turned out to be a more demanding day that we expected.
The first 20 miles from Winchester involved an awful lot of up and down. It was a testing way to start the day and inevitably we broke up, with Andy, Gavin and Neville striking on ahead; a middle pack led by the two Chrises; and a few back markers. I was in the middle pack, which got lost in Havant trying to find the A259; we needed to find that to take us all the way through to Eastbourne.
Up until that point the ride through Meonstoke, Denmead and Hambledon had been demanding, but very attractive on roads and tracks which were largely traffic free. From Havant onwards we were on busy and fast roads, which requires even more concentration than usual and where traffic lights, islands and so on make staying together that bit harder.
We set Chichester as our lunch stop and at one point were all there together in The Buttery in the Crypt. Our group got their order in just two minutes before the deadline for breakfasts, so that is what most of us had.
Chichester is a lovely city with a fine cathedral. It was very busy on what was turning out to be a fiercely hot day. We were longer there than planned, partly because I sensed a willingness to dawdle over lunch a bit longer than usual (it was a nice day, we finish tomorrow…..); partly because Barry lost the van. I know Chichester is not a village, nor is it a metropolis and it is a pretty big van, so that took some doing.
Anyway, we eventually found it and that allowed us to refill drinks bottles and load up with energy bars, Jelly Babies and flapjacks.
From Chichester I rode the rest of the way in a pack with Chris R, Chris J, Karen, Kate, Mike, Nick, Ahmed and Jack, with the front three still out front and Steve and Penelope behind. Chris R and Chris J alternated as pace makers. It was particularly easy to follow Chris J with his streamers sparkling in the sunshine.
We went through Bognor Regis, Worthing, Hove, Brighton and Newhaven to Eastbourne. We hit the seafront at Worthing and stayed on it all the way through to Peacehaven. It was lovely to be on the coast, not just because of the views, but also because the sea breezes gave us welcome relief from a strong sun.
After a rest and photo opportunity at our 1,000 mile mark, we faced few small climbs around Newhaven, then ended with a bit of a shock. After Seaford (one of the Cinque Ports, and I think we visit others tomorrow) we faced a ten mile climb up to Beachy Head. Maybe I did not pay enough attention to the elevation charts at breakfast, or had become a bit complacent after the big climbs further north. This was a chest bursting brute of a pull, very steep with only one short downhill stretch in the middle. Coming at it fresh it would be a real challenge; when you already have 80 miles of hard riding in your legs it is a punishing way to end the day.
Our destination after 93 miles was one of the Halls of Residence of the University of Brighton’s Eastbourne Campus, where we were staying overnight. We had dinner in The Ship nearby and were joined by Susan, Michael Chandler (a close friend from Liverpool Polytechnic days), Kate’s parents, sister, brother in law, nephew, and aunt and uncle. There was a generally jovial atmosphere and a growing realisation that the job is almost done.
A few team updates.
No mishaps, which is always good news. No traffic violations either, so the strategy of visible reminders in the form of pink bells, honking hippos and streamers is obviously working. There was an attempt to slander me by claiming I did not quite make it through one set of lights before they changed. Not true, I was well through on amber (though I am not so sure about the person behind me, but don’t have eyes in the back of my head so won’t make any allegations).
Accomplishment of the day: has to go to Barry for managing to lose the van in Chichester.
Team of the day: goes to all the riders who made it up to Beachy Head without stopping. Penelope and Steve deserve a special mention; they were on the road for an hour and a half more than the rest of us, still made it up and were still smiling when they got to The Ship.
Finally, I have had a lot of requests for particular photos. The two most sought after are Nick on the massage table at University Park and Chris J in his military uniform. I asked Nick about how he felt about me using his picture. He said that he would rather I did not, since he is aware many read the blog over breakfast. Fair enough. So, you have Chris J in uniform instead.
Another 93 miles, bringing our total to 1,019. And so to the final day, thankfully a shorter one than yesterday, but I will pay a bit more attention to the elevation charts at breakfast to see what is in store.
Professor David Greenaway
Last day today! Well done to all of you, it’s a tremendous achievement, especially Steve with his shoulder and Chirs J with the stinging whips of the tassles on his handlebars. I know how tough it must have been for you both. Have a safe last day to Dover and as I texted Steve this morning…
They’ll be blue shirts over
The white cliffs of Dover.
The “Final Countdown” All have a safe ride to Dover what a fantastic achievement. Will you be riding into Dover as a Team together?
It’s a surprisingly tough ask to conquer the south coast – not achieved since 1066! Well done to the whole team and enjoy your celebrations later today. Ian
Almost there – a fantastic achievement and great to hear that you’re all in such good spirits. Enjoy the rest of the day and hope you get to celebrate in style tonight!
By my reckoning you’ll be in Dover in the next 2-3 hours and no doubt necking a couple of well deserved shandies shortly after. Enjoy the celebrations tonight.
Almost there. Not sure you will miss the cycling, but we’ll miss the blog. You could get the ferry and head for Paris, and blog in French.
Look forward to hearing about the final stage.
The final chapter from reality VC is upon us, what will I fill that time with next week! I think you are all truly outstanding. I cannot begin to imagine what that last day will feel like but whatever the feeling, you all richly deserve it – ENJOY. Fx
Hey! Amazing , as last year that every one of you has done every leg of the ride. Such a great team effort. Have fun together tonight …………. Celebrate your fantastic achievement!
It was lovely to meet the team and see the tremendous camaraderie and sense of collective achievement that has built between you all. I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening, thank you for the warm welcome.
Well done to everyone, great achievement and an unforgettable experience. Best wishes for a good term back in Nottingham.
It was a particularly gruelling day today so special congrats to Steve and Penelope who did something like an eleven hour day. A great evening was enjoyed by all as the excitement of the final day filled the Ship. Almost there and what an achievement by all. HAve fun on the final stretch. Love Susan X