An early return from holiday meant I had the chance to join the last Friday Night Ride To The Coast this year to Shoreham. I looked at the forecast at the beginning of the week wondering if I would be wasting my time, a forecast of gale force winds and torrential rain for Friday night did not look promising.
I signed up with no great expectations as the forecast storm had now been named Callum by the Met Office but as the week progressed the forecast improved as the rain band was forecast to miss the South East of England.
By Friday it looked like we would have a dry windy night with very high nighttime temperatures for the time of year.
Meeting was at 11-30pm at The British Film Institute near Waterloo Station and after a thorough briefing 39 riders set off for the coast at midnight.
The route took us out through Brixton and Streatham where by 1am the Friday night “street party” was in full swing, with revellers looking rather worse for wear, my immediate thought was that I hope I don’t get a puncture here.
Mitcham and Beddingrton were a bit quieter and by Chipstead we had left the City behind. Traffic was thinning and most normal people were now getting tucked up in bed. We crossed the M25 at Mertsham and made good time to our halfway stop at the Scout Hut in Burstow where volunteers had turned out to feed and water us at 3-30am.
After the comfort of the halfway stop the next few miles are always needed to warm up but with Turners Hill as the next waypoint this did not take long and after regrouping at the top we were heading South West to Nuthurst, Henfield and then the beautiful town of Steyning before cutting through the South Downs to our destination.
As we cycled past Coombes dawn was approaching and we were graced by a magnificent sunrise which looked surreal over the old cement works. Our swift progress with no mechanical problems or punctures meant we were still early for breakfast so an extra loop over the old wooden bridge spanning the River Adur wasted a few minutes before we arrived at the magnificent Art Deco terminal at Shoreham Airport for our full English breakfast in The Aviator Restaurant.
The breakfast did not disappoint but a full stomach would have preferred a lie down rather than a 48 mile cycle home but storm Callum favoured us on this occasion with a strong following wind to round off a very memorable ride.
These rides are organised by https://www.fnrttc.org.uk which is an affiliated group of Cycling UK and for the very reasonable sum of £2 per year membership you can join like-minded cyclists of questionable sanity and enjoy some nighttime adventures.