Ok, so I completed the Friday Night Ride to the Coast and, frankly, it was f***king amazing!
There'll probably be many posts about it as I learnt a huge amount about my cycling and cycling in a group etc but amazing sums it up.
I had to walk up most of the last hill and my chain came off on another one but I stayed in about the middle of the group for most of the ride and CC and I stayed together a lot of the time. I managed hills I never dreamed I could climb, cycled through six-foot visibility mist in the pitch black, ate some truly disgusting energy bars and, along with the rest of the group, caused quite a spectacle at Gatwick at 4am.
We were delayed as a fellow bike had serious tire problems and there were a few other incidents so we didn't actually get into Brighton until 8am but when we did it was wonderful. Because of the delays we missed the sunrise and by the time we hit the beacon it was fully daylight and scorching hot. We winged our way down into town in streaming sunlight and a full fry up went some way to helping us recover.
I was hugely impressed by the professionalism of the organisers. No one was left behind and it was incredibly easy to navigate the route even when we were spread out because of rolling wayfinders. I felt completely safe and supported and when the last person crested the beacon (broken chain poor girl) there were genuine cheers for her and within 20 minutes her chain was fixed and she was back on the road. The vast majority of the group were really friendly and even though we were new CC and I were made to feel like hardened lycra loonies.
I'll definitely be going again!