What really made this event is - it is Free - you just turn up. Also it had stopped raining in this wettest June on record and there was a 10 mph tail wind helping you along.
There were 2000 riders, including me the one Summit rider, so you are never on your own - Leaving Hackney was OK with so many riders, and you were soon out of London through Epping Forest and then into some beautiful countryside - lanterns put out by villagers - Pubs providing food on the way - impromptu 'pop up kiosks' stops, locals put up for grub and drink. There is so much going on with this ride, the type of bike from recumbent to folding and all in between, the type of rider from racing teams to people in fancy dress and one man was smoking a cigarette while cycling along, he told me he had a pack of twenty and then he was down to roll-your-own would he stop I wondered!
I rode with CTC friends both have done the French 'PBP' and think nothing of doing 400K, so I was pleased I managed to stay with them all the way.
What Bike to use?
I decided to go on my GT CX crosser although it has bigger tires than a road bike it is stronger, has mudguards and will take a heavy rack for all that kit you need on a 200k night ride, it was a good decision. It was encouraging I saw many MTB hard-tail riders, an option I would put slicks on I think.
You can start off when you like, traditionally start time is 9 o'clock but to avoid the rush hour we left Hackney at 8:07 p.m. We arrived at Dunwich at 4:15 a.m. with a total elapse time for the 200K of 7:53 - we only stopped three times just short 10 minute breaks for refreshments and then ever onwards.
Approaching the end and seeing the first light slowly bringing in the dawn and the first bird songs was something special.
The Beach was packed with cyclist all having a kip it looked like seals on the beach with bicycles ...
Really glad it was not raining at the end, I took an Emergency Blanket - it was the best bit of kit I took - slept on the beach for 3 hours in it until someone mistook it for rubbish and put a bag on top of me! Refreshed we cycled another 25k up to Worlingham where my Wife conveniently (by a cunning plan) was visiting a sister. So we got a ride home and slept some more. The 'organization' does lay on 850 places on coaches to get you and your bike back to London, but they go quite quickly. If I had not gone along with my two CTC friends they would have cycled back - 400k round trip - for me no way!
I will do this again - so next year if you are interested ...