Signing up for an exercise based challenge always feels good: there’s the sense of pushing yourself a little bit further than usual, plus all the health benefits that come with the training and event itself.
But putting your name down for the London to Brighton Bike Ride this summer is a double whammy.
All that pedal power won’t just improve your own heart health — it will directly benefit the health of the nation, by helping to fund pioneering research by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
It’s little wonder so many people sign up every year. London to Brighton is Europe’s oldest charity organised bicycle event, and has been the BHF’s flagship fundraiser every summer since 1976.
The journey itself is iconic, weaving through some of Surrey and Sussex’s most stunning scenery, en route to a triumphant finish at Brighton seafront.
It’s a beautiful trip that every cyclist must attempt at some point in their lycra-toting lifetime — and is also one that recreational, ‘hobby’ cyclists are more than capable of completing.
The joys of getting your name down and getting active are manifold. Partially closed roads make it free from the otherwise hectic traffic that normally clog this route.
The local communities cheering you on and offering refreshments are energising. There’s a real sense of community and shared effort as everyone strives for the line — and after 54 miles, there’s a real sense of achievement when Brighton (and Hove) come into view.
No wonder the event has becomepart of the national calendar as a healthy challenge for a very worthy charity. Everyone involved in the ride is part of the ongoing fight against heart disease.
It’s not a ride to be feared. Or a race. The beauty of London-Brighton is that you can take it at your own pace: club riders can try to break their personal best times, while casual pedallers can make a day of it.
All of them will tell you that Ditchling Beacon — a mile-long hill with a gradient of one in 10 — is a beast, and many get off and walk at this point.
But there’s a uniting spirit among everyone. It’s for the fast and the fall behinds, the solo riders and team players, experienced and newbies, confident and cautious. Each competitor experiences a unique, rewarding and individual journey during the race.
Getting the blood pumping around the body through one of the healthiest forms of exercise is also an apt way to support the BHF.
The charity stresses that staying active is vital for the health of your heart (anything that gets you breathing heavily works), and that adults should aim for 150 minutes of activity per week (this can be in 10-minute blocks). What better way than in the saddle?
From 2015-2020 the BHF will fund half a billion pounds of research to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart and circulatory disease. This includes coronary heart disease, angina, heart attack, congenital heart disease and stroke.
So why not improve your own heart’s health, while raising money to improve those of a nation? The BHF supports riders every mile of the way, with a welcome pack, training advice from British Cycling, medical and mechanical support along the route and an exclusive finisher’s medal for everyone who crosses the line in front of Brighton Pier.
There’s even free entry to an amazing party on Brighton Beach afterwards. What are you waiting for?
This year’s ride takes place on Sunday 18 June. Take on the challenge and help beat heart disease. Sign up now at bhf.org.uk/L2B