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FLAG  London to Brighton 2008 [EN]

Rédigé par Fanfoue,
Publié le Monday 16 June 2008.

Since 1980, to collect funds, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) organise a bike ride from London to Brighton on the sea coast each year just before the summer.

Each year a bunch of skaters from the some of the london skates ride join the journey from Clapham Common to Brighton.

I've been told that this journey was going on very recently and I decided to give it a try.

London To Brighton
London to brighton (by car)

The journey is going through the fields on roads partially cut to motor vehicules for a 58 miles, +/- 92km trip.


I didn't had any specific physical preparation, I heard about this trip relatively late. Anyway I'm not practicing a lot, I just try to do around 40km of skating by week with the wednesday and friday night skate and sometimes a few miles around the city on Saturday adding to a little bit of landkiting and sometimes other sports. Concerning skating, a little bit more than 10 years of regular practice.

But I took the decision to join the skate mainly by curiosity, will my body be able to skate on such a long disance ?

For the journey, I removed my Deshi boot and installed back the original Salomon FSK setup (more about it (in French)).
My skates are equipped with ABEC-7 bearings and HYPER PRO 250 80/76mm 84A wheels, the wheels are a little bit hard for such a journey.

In terms of gears a simple pairs of Salomon palm protectors in case of fall.

I used a small backbackl (similar to camelback but from decathlon) containing:
- A 2L water pocket with a little bit of fruit sirup for the taste (don't want to buy an energizer powder just for one trip),
- 6 cereal/fruit sticks,
- 2 bananas,
- One t-shirt and some socks,
- Some light shoes,
- A small bath towel,
- A K-Way (Hey, we're in the U.K),
- Some money for the pub and the way back.

The D Day

4h30, wake up time, hayfever gave me a hard time during the night, I only slept 4 hours. A quick shower and breakfast (museli & one banana) and I'm ready to go, my bus leave at 5h05 and I have a bus exchange I must not miss.

5h20, the first bus was late so I missed the second one, I decided to skate to Clapham South, it is less than 10km from Hyde Park Corner so it is a good way to warm up, and at this time streets are pretty clear.

English breakfast
A few cyclists

5h50 I'm in Clapham common, and I can see my first surprise of the day, English food habit. I can imagine drinking a coffee at 6h00 o'clock even before practicing sports, but I can hardly imagine eating a bacon cheeseburger !!! especially at 6:00 in the morning !!! But they are just cyclist, Sunday cyclists ... and 92km by bike is not an impossible job.

Skaters at Clapham South
Musical sister

6h00 I found the skaters in front of the Clapham South tube station.

let's go, for what I thought to be a 8h00 long skates journey.

The journey

This is the first time I skate during such a long journey, so it's a bit of an unknown world for me.

London To Brighton - Altitude

I quickly notice that the journey will not be only on flat roads, in fact that's one of the reason why skaters decided to leave so early. Leaving at 6:00 am means less cyclists so it is a little bit less dangerous in downhills.
Instead of us skaters, cyclist are usually not used to ride in pack so result is an higher risk of accidents.

First stop

First official stop after one hour and 10 miles (16km), at that time I was following the main group of skaters. Official Stops are well organised with toilets, tap water and the possibilty to buy food at a reasonable price. Price which tended to increase all the way to Brighton. There was also quite a lot of unofficial stops with people offering/selling food or drinks.

End of the first big downhill
Example of uphill

As you've seen on the diagram from 2007 (the journey is the same) there are some quite big hills. The general feeling is that uphill are short and hard and downhill mostly soft and mid-slow, the result is that we don't have the feeling to spend all our time going up.
In the up-hills most of (Sunday ?) cylclists put their feet down and simply walk to the top, as we are going slightly faster a little bit of slalom is involved.

Downhill are quite tricky, cyclists usually tend to go faster and over react in case of issue, and as you know it is a little bit more tricky to do an emergency stop with rollerskates. It is necessary to be very careful to the road by constantly watching far over while keeping control of your speed, I know speeding feel great but you can be sure that the worst thing to happen is to fall down while going downhill at speed. I tried it once four years ago while doing downhill on mountain and it's not that it hurts very bad, it is just very very unconfortable because usually the parts of your body which hurt the ground take a long time to heal correctly (not enough blood vessel in those parts if I understand correctly).

Take extra care if you have to move on the road always make a sign to inform cyclists that you will change your direction to avoid an obstacle for example.

Turners Hill

After the first downhill I decided to continue at my own pace, everybody has a specific pace and it is more difficult to try to adapt your pace to others. I don't go very fast but I noticed that stops were not very good for me (it took me a long time to find back my correct pace), so I decided to keep going with a limited number of breaks. Once you found your pace you can keep going for kilometers.

I've done my second break a little bit befor e the 3/4 of the journey, near Turners Hills. I needed to stretch and to eat a little bit, 10mn later I was back on skates.

Ditching Beacon on sight

After 5h00 on the skates the last obstacle on the way was on sight, a kind of big 275m high hill called "Ditching Beacon" with a very high uphill.

Hopefully I just filled back my water pocket and bough a few energizers from a cyclist halt.

Up-hill, 90% walked it
The fields

Most of cyclists walked this uphill, with three short stops (1mn) I've been able to skate it to the top without too much difficulties.

The view and the sea

Once on the top you can admire the great view, and most of all the sea (=finish) less than 10km above. Then there is the last, huge and extremely fast downhill, I had a big chance to do it with nearly no cyclists but I heard from skaters doing more than 40mph according to cyclist following them and such a speed after such a distance is really impressing for sure.

The Finish !!!!

The last few miles, the most difficult ones of all the journey, the road quality was pretty bad and we were stopped quite often by the police at traffic lights and at that time you just want one thing, pass the finish and relax.

12h40, 6h20 after I started I crossed the finish line, some skaters are already there, the fastest did it in 4h30, the last ones crossed the line after 8h00 of skating.

My average speed, including breaks, was around 15km/h, nearly 10mph which I'm pretty happy about (at least on my scale), and, like all skaters, I'm proud  to have crossed the finish line.

About the road

Although there is some pretty bad section (especially on up hills) the overall aspect is OK.

And cyclists

Cyclist behavior have changed a lot during the journey, at the beginning we were just feeling like beeing anoying little things but after the the first half they started to congratulate us and raise their fingers while crossing us. Probably because they started to realise that we could to it too and that it was a lot harder for us.

The most famous funny (or not) things told by cyclists, always with a smile:
"So you don't have enough money to buy a bike ?"
"You lost your bike on your way to brighton ?"
"Where are you going to ?" (near London)
"Where are you coming from ?" (near Brighton)

I spoke with a few cyclists and they were quite estonished to learn that the most difficult thing for us was not going uphill but were downhills.

To Conclude

I'll redo it, not next week, but if I'm still in London next year I'll do it for sure, it was a very good experience to skate among 27 000 cyclists.

This journey is incredible but if you want to give it a try be sure of your skating level and especially your breaking and speeding techniques.

We all met up at the "Queen and King" a famous pub in Brighton to eat, drink and exchange about this great experience.

Serpentine Road


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