My father recalled how his sisters cycled from London-Brighton and back in a day fuelled by nothing more than a bottle of pop and a bagful of cheese sandwiches.

They’d  spent a couple of hours on the sea front, flirt with the local boys and share a ice cream before the journey home with the sun at their backs.

The girls got home after dark rosy cheeked with achievement to be clucked and fussed over by a proud but relieved mother.

My dad remembers being impressed by the colossal size of the thighs needed to power his siblings’ boneshakers on the 120 round mile trip.

It reminded me of the maxim that it is the journey not the destination that counts and that growth comes from our experiences in reaching a goal rather than the goal itself.

It somehow felt like a challenge thrown down across the ages and I decided to recreate the journey sixty years later to show the next generation still had some powder in its keg.

Surely it couldn’t be that difficult, could it? After all, the London-Brighton route is completed by thousands of cyclists every year.

Therein lies the folly entertained by every couch potato and bar jockey in the land. Namely, the fact that because lots of people have achieved a goal, it must be easy.

I have one friend who breezily told me over a pint that Mount Everest isn’t a challenge anymore because hundreds of climbers summit every year.

Really? And what’s the highest point he’s ever climbed? Beckton Ski Slope in east London. And he stopped for a fag halfway up that.

It took me seven saddle-sore hours to cycle to Brighton. The low points included a two hour crossing of south London which held all the charm of Mordor on a winter’s day and a bewildering array of road kill including a dead badger, deer and assortment of squashed rabbits and hedgehogs.

You can’t call Ditchling Beacon a low point because its actually very high.

It is the coup de grace waiting to finish off any unsuspecting cyclist in the shape of an 800 metre high hill several miles before the long freewheeling descent to Brighton.

I told my dad about the journey and my amazement at his sisters stamina in completing the round trip in a day.

“Did I say that?,” he laughed. “Don’t be daft. They stayed in a youth hostel overnight.”

Cheers dad.

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