The sun was shining and I beamed at it after tightening up my trainers and putting my helmet on. It was about 6.40 and I was more excited than scared. 54 miles is not such a big thing and if I was too shattered to cycle up Ditchling Beacon I could always push my bike up… couldn’t I? Nothing to be afraid of. Cool. Got my card stamped and off I went!
This year the London to Brighton bike ride was celebrating it’s 50 years anniversary and around 28,000 people were participating. Amongst the welcome pack there was a paper heart to attach to your shirt telling why you were riding. Some said simply “Dad” or “Uncle Ted” some had a few lines in them… some people were wearing a full on picture with dates of birth and death laminated on their backs. Some printed on their shirts. I personally did it because just wanted to participate in what seemed a fun day, getting my mind off things and ultimately raising some money for charity. Although looking back, I think my own heart needed it a bit. I’ve been lately too stressed and coping with lots of personal drama, and my heart needed the exhilarating thrill of such massive event and the fresh air of the country side.
I can tell my experience of the first 20 some miles. Just before Gatwick. I was tired up until there and I must admit that I had by then already pushed my bike up a few hills, a bit because of the pain in my quadriceps and bit because of the amount of people cycling up in narrow roads made it twice as difficult to manoeuvre. All in all, I was happy and still full of energy and the excitement of the crowd around me.
At some point near Hoorley, someone tried to overtake me without warning me and when he did his handle bars got tangled in mine. I was going pretty fast (I’m not bragging I was!) and I must have instinctively braked… I say I must, because the next thing I remember is opening my eyes facing the surface of the road with my face flat of the ground and one of the worst pains I have ever felt in my life. I probably flew over my bike, and landed on my head (thank God and Molly who lend me her helmet) hurting by action of inertia my face, right shoulder, elbow, hips, knees…to cut a long story short, I ended up on an ambulance for the first time in my life and spent 2hs on a first aid post until my husband came to pick me and my poor shattered bike and took me back to Brighton. Not exactly how I planned it would finish.
Before all this drama, I was thinking how much life resembles experiences like these. How life sometimes feels like a long bike ride, how we struggle with the up hills, in pain and discomfort and how quickly the pleasure and fun of the downhill blissful wind on our heads passes; and how no matter what how tired we can get sometimes there’s no options but to keep going. So how does an accident fit into the picture? I guess the same way that a heart attack affects a family. An abrupt, painful experience that puts on hold the life of who suffers it and of the people around them, and those who survive live with the scabs of a fragile heart leaving the bruises of the edge on life and death fear to their love ones.
So although I didn’t finish the bike ride in Brighton as I expected, you can agree that I suffered for the cause quite a lot; so please help donating to this great charity who daily battles heart decease in England.
I’ll be doing it again next year. Just look for the girl in the Michelin costume.
For more details about The British Heart Foundation and how to donate visit my fundraising page http://original.justgiving.com/marianamoyano or for other pages and ideas on how to help visit http://www.bhf.org.uk/
Words and photos: Mariana Moyano