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Origins of the London to Brighton Bike Run

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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.

Paul Bonett in front of Solstice Bookshop, which was one of the promoters of the second Bike Run in 1977

 

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Cycling Links

London to Brighton Cycle Run
Bricycles - the city's foremost cycling pressure group
Cycle Rides - organisers of London to Brighton Bike Run
Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club - cycling plus socialism
Brighton Excelsior Cycling Club - a club with a history
Brighton University's BUG

Weird Cycle Lanes of Brighton (& Hove)
Critical Mass (Brighton)
World Naked Bike Ride (Brighton & Hove)

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