London to Brighton cycle: Emma Pooley's top tips for Ditchling Beacon

One of the highlights of our fundraising calendar, the London to Brighton cycle ride is just a few weeks away!

 

Good luck to all in @amnestyuk ride on 7 Sept. Cycling for a great cause! Sign up on http://t.co/PG4OHuv2JS #teamamnesty #londontobrighton

— Emma Pooley (@PooleyEmma) August 21, 2014

There's still time to enter, and to help you get to the top of Ditchling Beacon, Olympic and Commonwealth Games star and Amnesty supporter Emma Pooley has shared her top climbing tips.

I hope you’re looking forward to the London to Brighton Cycle on 7 September! The beauty of this ride is that it’s challenging but achievable whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or just getting started: you can make it as hard as you like.

If you’re worried about the distance, there’s still time to do some useful training that will make the ride more enjoyable. If you don’t normally ride a bike regularly then even 1-2 rides a week will help you feel comfortable for a long day in the saddle. 

The route is from city to sea and could hardly be described as mountainous but there are some hills along the way, most notably the Ditchling Beacon climb between miles 46 and 47. 

Here are a few tips to (hopefully) help it feel more like a molehill than a mountain...

  1. If you don’t ride in the hills often, check that all your gears work (this is most useful done in advance!). Shift through the gears and check that the chain runs smoothly in all of them. It’s a real pain if you get to a steep hill and the chain keeps jumping or slipping, or worse still the rear derailleur shifts too far and gets tangled up in the spokes of your rear wheel (this makes a big mess of both bike and wheel).
  1. Don’t try to use a really big gear because you think it’s faster – normally, it’s not. And you can hurt your knees and back if you push too hard. Pushing a big gear is rather like lifting weights: it tires your muscles, uses up their glycogen stores,  and could leave you with empty legs for the last few miles. Try to spin along in a low gear on the hills.
  1. If you stand to climb on steep sections, avoid wasting energy. A lot of people swing their bodies around which is not very efficient. Riding out of the saddle is called “en danseuse” in French, and that’s how it should be: neat and dainty! Try to keep your body still and move the bike side-to-side, because the bike weighs a lot less than you do (even if you’ve done a lot of training and been very disciplined in your diet!).
  1. When the going gets tough and you’re struggling to motivate yourself, remember that you’re riding for a great cause! By raising money for Amnesty International you’re helping stand up for the human rights of the oppressed all over the world.

And of course, enjoy the ride as well! Have fun and stay safe out on the road.

If you're riding London - Brighton with us, you're in good company - there's over 100 of you and counting! Please share your tips to get ready, fundraising and pictures - just use #TeamAmnesty on Twitter and we'll share the best.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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