Well, almost. London to Brighton to Guildford, anyway.
Travelling home with the bike on the car roof was a comfortable way to rest weary legs after the London to Brighton Bike Ride. And then, somewhere along the bleak A23 south of Crawley, I saw them.
Lone cylists, still carrying their London to Brighton numbers, pedalling along the bleak dual carriageway and working their way through the late afternoon across Sussex. Heading north and back to London.
The idea was born — to complete the 54 miles of the London to Brighton Bike Ride, and then glide (or limp) home to Guildford afterwards. That would make a long day’s ride of perhaps 100 miles in all.
And the last four years, I’ve done that — although on different routes each time.
2008: Brighton to Guildford via the Downs Link cycle track.
This route follows the disused railway line from Shoreham-by-Sea to Guildford. The good news is that it’s largely flat, with just one steep and tricky incline at Baynards, near Cranleigh, where the Downs Link runs across the hill above a tunnel.
The bad news is that the track is gravel, and rough and uneven in parts. After 40 miles of constant vibration, my hands were suffering pneumatic drill white finger. Rejoining the A281 at Shalford for the last two miles was a huge relief.
2009: Brighton to Guildford via Partridge Green and Cowfold.
The next year I took to the roads, for a slightly longer and hillier but much smoother journey.
My Google Maps for Mobile navigation wasn’t quite up to the task — offering several adventures.
Not least of these were an encounter with 70 mph trucks on the killer A24 dual carriageway, an unmapped mountain range near Barns Green south of Horsham and a diversion along a farm track and fields to reach the serenity of Slinfold.
2010: Brighton to Guildford via Partridge Green and Horsham.
An improved road itinerary, heading north from Partridge Green to reach the A281 east of Horsham.
A better route, although a snapped gear cable on the steep climb through Maplehurst needed repairs and emergency chocolate was demanded for the final stretch on the Horsham-Guildford road. A dozen miles of monotonous undulations to the west of Roman Gate played havoc with morale and tired legs.
2011: Brighton to Guildford via Partridge Green, Ashington, Alfold.
Fourth time out, I found the perfect route — via a safe crossing beneath the A24 at Ashington, on to quiet roads leading to the south of Billingshurst, past the Limeburners’ Inn and the Onslow Arms at Loxwood, to reach the A281 at Alfold.
Here at last was a pretty and blissfully quiet way back to Guildford. The only downside was the lack of anywhere en route to pick up supplies between Shoreham and the petrol station at Bramley.
A two mile detour north to find the sleepy town of Billingshurst found it … sleepy. The whole place is closed on Sunday afternoons, defining the central 30 mile section as a thirsty ride indeed.
This is the best and fastest cycle route from Brighton to Guildford, but I’ll tackle it with much more chocolate and orange drink on board, next time.
228. Twin peaks in the Surrey Hills – two classic cycle climbs to Winterfold Heath
223. Cycling on Surrey and Sussex hills – from White Down to Ditchling Beacon
153. The green monster – Ditchling Beacon and the London to Brighton bike ride
225. Running on Roman Road 2 – from Stane Street to Guildford
149. In at the deep end – Stratford 220 Sprint Triathlon
155. Le grand départ – the Tour de France in London 2007
113. The Pilgrim’s Progress – Surrey Hills 2
Four of us did London-Brighton and back last year, lovely day out although we had a couple of showers on the return leg. Came back on minor roads up to Dorking/Box Hill before heading back into London.
I thoroughly recommend it and we’re doing it again this year.
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