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London to Brighton – by bike


Lycra clad enthusiasts perched upon thin wheels, adorned with streamlined helmets and mirrored wrap-around glasses can now be found in every town in the UK. Britain is in the middle of a cycling boom and annual membership of the British Cycling Organisation is up 100% since 2008.  After the success of the British Olympic Cycling team, Bradley (Wiggo) Wiggins winning the Tour de France, and add an enthusiastic London Mayor, Boris Johnson into the mix it’s a great time to travel around Britain by bike.

Visit London’s Gay Cousin

pic: eguidetravel/flickr

Brighton is a mini-London by the sea complete with a Royal Pavilion giving it a regal composure. Once a home to the Regency aristocracy who crafted the curved architecture of the seafront streets, it now has a mix of students (both eternal and the studying kind) new media, creative types, eco-conscious business men, families and apparently the highest amount of licensed establishments per capita than anywhere else in Europe.

Like most UK cities, Brighton has all the familiar shops and chain restaurants. But it also has a fierce independent streak celebrating organic, locally made produce. Infinity Foods  is a Brighton based cooperative dedicated to organic, vegetarian, Fairtrade wholefoods. Started in 1971, it now has a large shop in the central lanes and an award winning café where you can test out the latest recipes such their bestselling falafel, chilli humous & caramelised onion sandwich on gluten free bread.

You can find Infinity Foods is in the heart of the lanes, once the centre of ‘Brighthelmstone’ fishing village, these twisting alleys offer the shopper everything from vintage clothing, to the eccentric tailors Gresham Blake. Find bespoke jewellers to those selling £10,000 diamond rings, guitar stores and take a trip through the flea market Snoopers Paradise to find an original art deco painting or Victorian postcard.

Electric wheels, A Race or a Train Ride?

How will you get to Brighton from London? As London and Brighton are both cycle friendly cities, use your own or hire one of Boris’s bikes  to pedal your way to London Victoria and then take a fast train direct to Brighton, which takes around an hour and will cost £20 for a return ticket. Once at Brighton station you can hire a push bike to explore the city for as little as £7.

West Pier, pic Howzey/flickr

Head down the hill to the seafront and cycle left to boat watch at the Marina or right to the landmark West Pier which after a fire in 2003 is now an eerie relic in the waves. The seafront offers a four mile stretch of traffic free cycling along the seafront from Brighton Marina to Hove Lagoon. This is a perfect cycle on a summer day and the Hove lawns will be busy with BBQ’s and picnickers.

If you are a keen (and fit) cyclist, then take the 65 mile Sustrans route from the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, South London through the stunning Sussex Downs and Weald as well as urban areas like Beckenham.

If you want to cycle but are petrified of collapsing half way, then consider an electric bike. These have an electrical assist, removable batteries and can carry you for 1000 miles on an electrical charge that costs as much as a postage stamp. A beautiful shop, Just E Bikes in Portobello Road lets you test them out and once you’ve tried electric you won’t go back.

Unless…

pic: Ian Hampton/flickr

You are one of the lycra tribe and looking for a challenge. Every year the British Heart Foundation (BHF) holds an annual cycling fundraising event which sees 27,000 cyclists in aforementioned attire whizzing from Clapham to Brighton pier and creating congestion in their wake. Registration opens on the 3rd March for one of the coveted places and the BHF have now created a London to Brighton night ride and off road bike ride to cope with the demand.

Whether it’s a fast paced action cycle or a revitalising ride along the seafront, a trip to Brighton is worth the cycle. If you want to explore more of London’s nearby relatives by bike, try Kent for Hever Castle or Surrey for Richmond Park.

Kate Marillat is a London born blogger who now lives in Brighton after falling in love with the city ten years ago. She can be found whizzing up and down the seafront on her bike, young son in tow and carrot cake in her bag. More by her on her website, bethewriteryoudreamofbeing.com.

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