1976, 60 Riders and a 95 Mile Route!
Hand-drawn Poster Advertising the First
London to Brighton Bike Ride
The origins of the highly successful annual London to
Brighton Bike Run are a bit lost in the mists of time. So any information
readers can provide is very welcome - recollections and photos.
Paul Bonett of Bonett's Estate Agents took part in the
first ride which took place on May Day 1976. As you can see from the
hand-drawn poster, it was quite a low key affair, in part organised by
the local branch of Friends of the Earth.
Paul writes: "We went up to London and stayed in a squat
in Kentish Town the night before. The ride started from Speaker's
Corner in Hyde Park with 60 riders.
We crossed the Thames at Westminster, headed east
down to and along the Old Kent Road, on to Biggin Hill and Crowborough, before
finally splitting into two groups: a few mad ones like me, going via
Underhill Lane and Ditchling Beacon, the others along to Lewes and the
old Lewes Road, and on to the seafront at the Palace Pier. It took
us most of the day!! It was about 95 miles in total, a bit
too far, but a great day. 37 finished, I remember. All the
Brighton riders did because we had to get home!! Most of those
who stopped, did so before we got far down the Old Kent Road - they were
the wise ones!
The following year, it went from the same spot but
took the more
direct route similar to today, including the Beacon of course, and was about
64 miles and 100 riders. Year 3 which I also did, had about 1,000
riders then it leapt up. I did not do it again until 1989 when it
had the numbers it has today and went from Clapham Common."
The bike run, as we know it today in support of the
British Heart Foundation, had its first outing in 1980.