Winter cycling from London to Brighton and backward.

After 10 days of non-stop work, just before 7 in the morning, I took the bike out the door. The bag was ready for the weekend, and the tires were inflated. I got on the saddle, and hook the first shoe to the spd pedal, the second clack is magic, and joy explodes. The “clack” of my pedals is enough to remind me why I do it.

No matter how cold or dark it gets, I’m on the saddle, and I’m ready to ride. The only thing I need to do is clip the pedals and go.

I drafted two different traces to connect London and Brighton, both go to the Woolwich tunnel. A foot tunnel that crosses under the River Thames in Woolwich, it isn’t a very bike-friendly tunnel since it is forbidden to cycle in it and moreover because one of the lift is out of order, however, it is an easy way to go from one side to the other of the river without having to get into a ferry o find a bridge (which by the way are not many).

Leaving for a bike trip on the first weekend of December is not a common thing, but I was lucky enough to find someone who thought of joining me! Meeting point with Eilidh in Woolwich at 8 to proceed together towards the sea.

Eilidh is not just any cyclist, she returned in July from a real solo adventure, cycling from Cairo to Cape-town. Needless to say, I consider myself very lucky to have met her by chance in a group of cyclists here in London just a week after my arrival.

The first day of travel from London to Brighton was quite easy, I wanted to reach Brighton in daylight I simplified the route, following slightly larger and less impervious roads. However, we went through one of the best highlights of the area. Woldingham School is an independent school for girls, located in the former Marden Park of 700 acres (280 ha) outside the village of Woldingham, Surrey. A kind of magical valley surrounded by hills and with a peaceful atmosphere. We rode along the old school, accompanied for a short time by a blue sky.

Brighton is hidden by the hills, at less than 10 km from the sea we couldn’t see it, just a climb ahead, but above the climb beyond the wind there it was below on the other side eventually the sea. The arrival is always a special part of the journey, even if in this case with the sunset the cold didn’t allow us to stop too many times as I wanted for the ritual photos in front of the coast.

Along the coast the coloured cabins and a house upside down, between the streets of the centre the murals hidden around the small streets, all of this made me feel even more curious about Brighton, so I’ll definitely go back to see more.

The 120 km ahead to get back to London had convinced me to set the alarm clock at 6 am. As scheduled, we were sitting on our bikes at 7, still in the dark, ready to climb the first hill to leave the sea behind. The road that runs from Falmer on the crest of the hill offers a unique panorama, whilst I was pedalling I dreamed about the colours that I could not see in the dark.

From that point on, the road has never been flat, the ups and downs repeated, hill after hill. The very fact of having kept track of following the suggested path of the national cycle network allowed us to peel on small roads, sometimes so small that we had to stop to let cars pass by.

In good time we were cycling in the Kent region among castles and old farmhouses, crossing some vineyards and ending up on the banks of a lake that can’t be visited. Still impressive in its natural beauty, I’m talking about the Bough Beech Reservoir.

The first weekend of winter breeze, cold hands, and the fear that it would have been even colder in the dark. As we added towards the final few smooth hills and descents in London, we cycled almost non-stop to Orpington where we stopped for a quick lunch. Traffic lights, roundabouts, and the usual traffic made the last 20 kilometres into London the slowest.

Having the nerve to leave for a weekend, knowing it would be cold, for a country that I still don’t know, choosing roads based on tracks I still haven’t tried, with a bike that has been and is still the companion of many adventures, but which seems to be heavier and heavier compared to the latest high-performance bicycles over the years, was what really challenged me. And by the time I reached home, it was dark again.

Day OneDay Two ( 1729m correct positive elevation gain) on Kommot.


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