Bikes banned from trains on morning of the big ride
YOU may think saddle sores would be the biggest obstacle for those tackling the 54-mile London to Brighton cycle ride on Sunday.
But first, riders have to get themselves and their bikes to the start with no help from Southern Rail.
The firm, which operates trains from Crowborough to London, has banned non- folding bikes from most of its Sussex routes on Sunday morning.
This has left the 25,000 fundraisers taking part in the annual cycle challenge for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) forced to make their own arrangements.
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For Crowborough duo Stephen Tester and Tim Baldry, that means soliciting the help of Mr Tester's girlfriend to drive them to the capital at 5am before picking them up again eight hours later at the coast.
Mr Tester, 45, said: "It is a problem getting up there and back. It's probably more difficult than actually doing the bike ride.
"I'm putting a bike rack on the back of my car and my girlfriend Trudy is dropping us somewhere near the start at Clapham Common for our start time of 7.30am. She's then driving back home but has to pick us up at the other end."
Jack Smith, 84, from Beeches Road, has called in a favour from his kind son-in-law Richard Perry.
Mr Smith, a keen gardener who cycles to his allotment at Rusthall, said: "He's taking me to London at about 5.15am – even though it's his wedding anniversary."
Most charity events start and finish at the same place but the one-way course from London to Brighton throws up special logistical problems.
Mr Tester, a funeral director at Tester and Jones, added: "There's half a dozen people from Freedom Leisure in Hailsham who have hired a Transit van to take them up, but then you still need a driver."
His cycle partner Mr Baldry, from Warren Road, said: "In the past when a gang of us have done it we've had to hire a van to take the bikes up and a second to take the riders.
"There's a lot of members of the public decamping in side streets in Clapham then it's just as busy again in Brighton with people trying to collect you."
Mr Baldry, 54, added: "It's not for cycling purists. It's a lot of fun but you get people doing it in fancy dress, on penny farthings or with stereos taped to their handlebars."
Mr Baldry is taking part in his fourth ride while Mr Tester is a "London to Brighton virgin".
He added: "I've been training about 20 or 30 miles each weekend for the last four or five weeks but I hope 54 miles won't be too far."
Alan Lloyd, spokesman for Lewes Wanderers Cycling Club, said: "I'd heard you couldn't take your bike on the train and it does seem rather silly. As a club we steer clear of the whole thing – the roads are so congested it's just too dangerous."
Mr Tester and Mr Baldry have nearly hit their target of raising £1,000 for the BHF and local charities. To support them, click on www.justgiving.com/Stephen-Tim
To support Mr Smith, call 01892 653562.