London to Brighton on a bike. A survivors account

June 30, 2014


Last Sunday four of Northwood’s finest – Stuart Williams, Steven Summerhayes, Nick Harris and Dean Walford donned their lycra and set off on the London to Brighton charity bike ride.

The team were raising funds to support the Northwood Foundation’s chosen charity for this year – The Pancreatic Research Fund. In 2013, we tragically lost our Managing Director and close friend, Nick Cooper, to pancreatic cancer and so decided to establish the Northwood Foundation in his memory.  Pancreatic cancer sufferers have only a 3% chance of survival beyond 5 years, and this figure has not improved in 40 years.




Committed to reaching their £1500 sponsorship target, the awesome foursome did us proud – hitting their fundraising target AND cycling an additional 12.5 miles over and above the official course. . .

The below is a personal  account from one of the survivors – Northwood’s very own Stephen Summerhayes.

“I knew it was going to be an interesting day when we discovered en route to the start line that we were on the wrong train to get there. After a short panic, an IPhone internet search and a quick change of train, we arrived at the London Eye just in time to be the last ones to leave for what we thought was going to be a hard but manageable 60 miles. The briefing did mention a lack of signs in London, but having two London boys on the team how hard could it be?

An hour later, lost in London, we made a call to the help line. A guy answered our plea with “I don’t know the route I will have to get someone else to call you back”. Half an hour later we get instructions to get us back on route, towards Richmond Park.

We get to a park which involved some very rough off road tracks; ok for Dean on his hybrid bike not so much fun for the rest of us on serious road bikes with saddles that are not designed for off-roading. I guess we should have realised by the absence of deer that it was not Richmond Park but Wimbledon Park. Local police redirected us again, back the way we came…….chin up boys!

An hour later we are still lost when we decide to  switch on the Tom Tom app – heading towards Dorking to pick up the route. Flying downhill Nick Harris on his new Boardman carbon dream race bike hits a technical snag…his pedal falls off!

No problem they have a mobile mechanic, so we call the helpline. The mechanic calls back. ..”Yes he is a mechanic…… yes he is mobile…no he can’t come to us…” He is also on a bike, and we are not just off route we are off his map!

No panic says Nick there must be a Halfords nearby!! Well there was –  in Epsom, so “One Pedal” hops on his bike, and if you have never seen anyone pedal a bike with one pedal…… well I just wish we had videoed it. Halfords in Epsom did us proud.

We also found the route in Epsom and made it to the drink station.  Off again and steadily clocking up the miles. Dean begins to realise that the old bike that Nick has lent him, which is made of cast iron is not so good going uphill, but the weight takes him down hill quickly!!

Blisteringly hot all day, 52 miles done, we pull into what we thought would be the last water station, only to overhear the marshal tell someone only 21 miles to go. “How can that be?” we interject in horror. We have done 55 miles and we are on the 60 mile route. “Well you may have done 55 miles but Brighton is still 21 miles away”.

Finally we pull into the last water stop just before the infamous hill: Devils Dyke. This is a real beast – very steep and very long, time to get out the energy boosters. Nick, Stuart & I had a selection of gels whilst Dean just had his towel tied to his bike, presumably ready to throw it in.

When we eventually collapse at the top of Devils Dike we were at least able to enjoy a gentle downhill run to Brighton for the last few miles and a round of applause as we crossed the line. Job done!”

We are incredibly proud of our boys – the stats say it all:

72.56 miles cycled

9 hours in the saddle

12,500 feet of assent

6000 calories burnt

£1,500 raised


To give the PCRF vital funds, please take a few moments to donate on the Northwood Charitable Foundation site.  There is no minimum donation, but please give as much as you won’t miss!  Thank you.

The before shot. . . .                                                                                        The after shot. . . .

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