IBC2IBC travel log - Day 1
The Challenge - London to Amsterdam - three days by bike from Central London to the RAI Exhibition Centre in Amsterdam where the vast majority of the Broadcast Industry meet to showcase their wares.
The ride in various forms had three earlier editions and this year the IBC2IBC 2013 was set over three days with the lion’s share of the mileage and the climbing scheduled for day 1. An interesting detail ways that as the ferry route to Oostende was no longer operating we had an extra 40 miles added onto our first day as we routed from Dover to Dunkirk to make land fall on the continent.
We all assembled in Shoe Lane, just off Fleet street and I was joined by four other members of my cycling club “Bigfoot” swelling the number to fifteen for our cycling odyssey. We were all issued with our lycra tops for the event and allocated Boxes for our essentials that we good get to during the ride from our support vehicle, all nicely named to avoid confusion.
Ciaran our leader and founder of the IBC2IBC cycling events briefed us all about the route out of London, group riding, stopping points and ferry schedules. We also made sure we had our waterproofs nearby, although it was a pleasant crisp morning in central London, rain was forecast as we were due to approach the coast.
With the briefing done, comfort break queues at the nearby Café Nero, they were angels we all assembled for the team photograph.
Setting off from Shoe lane, along Fleet Street, up Ludgate Hill and past St Pauls on our way to Tower bridge where we crossed over to the wilds of South London, to make our way through Kent to the Coast.
Note to the wise, trying to leave London during the rush hour and on a bicycle is a tricky enterprise and I was amazed at how many traffic intersections there are and all the lights were red, of course, and being responsible cyclists we regrouped at each set.
Once out of the “Smoke” we were onto more inviting roads and were able to cruise along in a couple of groups to our “Pit Stop” in Sittingbourne where we could replenish our drinks bottles, answer the call of nature and break out the wet weather gear for the rain that was forecast for our way into Dover.
It was a good job that we did have the rain gear because it rained incessantly almost all the way to Dover. The rain coupled with the fact that we encountered a rash of punctures on this section made it a tough afternoon as we made our way to the relative shelter of a two hour ferry crossing to Dunkirk and a chace for a rest and some hot food and drinks.
Once we arrived in Dunkirk it was all back to the car deck to pick up our steeds, some with newly repaired punctures, picked up just as we arrived in Dover and off into the French afternoon.
As we had a fair few miles still to ride and we were not scheduled to get to our overnight stop until about 10pm we all made sure our lights were fitted and working as we made our way onto the French roads and headed for the Belgian border. As the evening drew in and the night descended spirits were kept up as we passed through small towns on route and were cheered from the bars as we sped by. It was heart warming if not a little helped by the fact that Belgium were doing well in some football qualification match and that combined with the strong Belgian beer made sure our “audience” were very supportive during those dark hours in the saddle.
We eventually reached our overnight stop, under the cover of darkness, to be welcomed by cold beer, hot food, warm showers and a bed to rest our bodies.