London to Brighton (56 miles)

Hi all . . .I’m new to this forum and thought it would be a good place to start.

I’m training up to do the London to Brighton (about 56 miles) and wondered if any of you out there had done it, were planning on doing it this year (2011) or had any tips.

I just started riding again after 20 years :astonished: and pulled out my old 24". I have been in training now a few months and am now up to 20 miles in about 3 hours, but finding it harder to do more on the 24". Now expectantly awaiting the arrival of my new 36" which I’m hoping I can master (or at least ride by the time June comes around).

Any thoughts, ideas or experiences would be greatly appreciated.:slight_smile:

Hi there,

I did the London to Brighton (the route then was 58 miles) in 1992.

I used a standard semcycle 26 - there wasn’t much coice in those days!

I trained for about 2 months before the event (I’d only learnt to ride a few months beforehand) and just before the event my training seesions were up to 8 miles. I figured all I had to do was that 7 times and then another 2 miles!

I rode in good quality cycle shorts and used lots of baby lotion.

I had planned for the ride to take 9 hours, but after 15 miles I was knocked off and needed treatment before I could continue, that delayed me and also meant that depite my early start it became very crowded and I got knocked off a further 7 times!

Eventually completed the run in 12 hours.

I would suggest that you have as early a start as possible as, for me, the biggest problem was that it is a very popular ride and therefore busy. That said, the cheering spectators by the side of the road gave me a great lift.

The usual “where’s the other wheel” or variants I heard at least a 1000 times!

If I can be of any help, let me know


PS, there was an article written about the ride, if you let me have your e-mail address, I’ll scan it in and e-maiol to you

Getting knocked off by cyclists!

Thanks for you reply Nasher . . . I have pm’d you my email address and would love to see the article.

Getting knocked over by cyclists is a real concern, especially with the fast descents and blind corners.

The alternative is that I do the ride on another day (not the event day) and then i have the choice of the day / weather, also the route to some degree. Going a little further on the uni would be preferable to having to get off and walk some of the steeper inclines.

Out of interest . . .what are the steeper inclines that others have done on a 36’er with 125’s?

I did the London to Brighton in 2005 on a 36 with 125s, it was an incredibly hot day and I managed it in 9 hours overall, with about 5 hours of actual riding.

I only had a couple of near misses with bikes, both when someone cut across me and almost clipped the front of the wheel, I had a mate riding behind me on a bike which helped a lot with the downhills.

I did a trial run of the last 20 miles or so of the route a couple of weeks before the ride, including Ditchling Beacon. I made it all the way up, albeit with a stop halfway to get my breath back and let my vision clear. There’s no chance of riding the big climbs on the day of the event as there’ll be too many bikers walking.

I wouldn’t consider doing it on anything smaller than a 36, it’ll be much more fun on a bigger wheel, and you’re much more visible which helps with encouraging comments from spectators. You have plenty of time to get used to the bigger wheel, I think I got mine in March or April.

I’d recommend planning your training to include a ride of around 50 miles a few weeks before the event, it’s a massive psychological boost to know that you can handle the distance, it’s also a good opportunity to fine tune your eating/drinking strategy. Make sure you leave plenty of time to recover before the actual event though.

If you’re in London let me know and maybe I could join you for a training ride. I’m out of the country until March but will be around after that.


Ditchling Beacon Gradient-Average:8.4%. Maximum:16.1%.

Paul, thanks for you reply and advice . . . and I gratefully except your offer of joining me on a training run when your back and if you have time. I’m based in Hackney and was thinking of popping down and having a look at the hockey team.

I’m thinking of following in your footsteps and doing a recky of the last 20 miles, but not sure that I’ll be able to match riding up a 16.1% Gradient on a 36" with 125’s - - - in my eyes that’s top end unicycling, well done fella. Not riding it on the day (or even trying to ride it) seems a shame, but I do get that the volume of cyclists make it impossible.

I’m guessing from the time of your post on this thread that you must be somewhere like the states (unless your more local and just living it up! :)).

Nimbus impulse with shadow handle due to arrive tomorrow, anyone got idea’s on the best way to cut down the seat post, hacksaw or pipe cutters?

Nasher, the article was a great read, thanks for emailing it to me. It gave me a real feeling of what it must have been like for you, allthough saying that, cant believe you did the 58 miles on a 26" with barley any training - utmost respect. :slight_smile: If I’m not excepted/don’t get a place on the event, then the idea of a London to Brighton group uni run sounds like it would be a fun day for all, maybe not on 26’s though! :slight_smile:

Have you thought about trying double hole cranks? The KH 125/150 cranks should fit the ISIS hub on your Nimbus. You could ride the 125s most of the way and then sort of switch gears to the 150s and make a serious run at the 16% gradient.

KH 125/150 cranks

aarons . . .your right on the money regarding the KH 125/150 cranks.

I think I might go for that option if my wallet will stretch to it (family commitments come first). That said, from my understanding the volume of traffic would still make it nigh on impossible (approx. 27,000 participants last year). Log jams seem the order of the day!

still . . . I like the idea of being able to switch to increase the leverage.

Question . . . do the pedals just pop in and out of the respective holes, or is a tool needed to change them?

Being a new Nimbus Impulse owner, I can answer this. The pedals screw into the cranks. The Impulse pedals have a hex hole on the inside meaning that a simple “L” hex wrench can be used to install / remove them. This would be an easy thing to carry.

Flyjeffva . . .A new Nimbus Impulse, Congratulations, I can still only imagine (although that will change in the next few hours) . . . Is it the first 36" you’ve owned / ridden? If not, how’s it compare to your previous rides?

The 36" Nimbus Impulse comes with the Nimbus ‘Venture’ ISIS Cranks in Black, 125mm long . . . as I’m expecting a flat-pack to arrive, it’s good to know that they screw in, and that will help with a quick assembly :slight_smile: .

I also wanted to know about swapping the standard Impulse cranks for KH Double Hole ISIS Moment Cranks 125/150. ‘Beautiful and durable, removable steel pin polycarbonate pedals’. Does that mean they can just pop in and out using a finger or does one have a specific tool to change the pedal from one crank length to another?

Is there a pedal out there that uses a push button cantilever quick release mechanism that might fit the KH Double Hole ISIS Moment Cranks 125/150?

Well…the correct answer to your question is that the Impulse is my second 36er…but the rest of the answer is that my first 36er was a Coker V2 which I received on December 25, 2010. It developed a problem where the crank would not stay tight and I got frustrated dealing with Coker, so UDC gave me credit toward the Impulse.

I love the big wheel. I put 10 miles on the Coker and have put 32 miles on the Impulse - that is up till last Tuesday when I messed up a free mount on the Impulse and when down on my hands and broke my wrist. Six days ago I had surgery to install a metal plate and 7 screws in my wrist. It is now going to be something like 3 to 8 weeks before I can ride again.

Had a conversation with my wife, Laura, where she said “Send that unicycle back” to which I replied “I have found the best wrist guards on the market”.

I am going to keep riding the Impulse - can’t wait to get back on it - but I am going to order a pair of flexmeter wrist guards. Really don’t want to do this again. I would recemmend good wrist guards to any new 36er rider.

As I was going out for my last ride last Tuesday, one of my coworkers commented - that sure is a long way to fall off of there. 3 hours later when I returned from the hospital I went by his office and held up my arm and said “You were right”

I am riding with KH 165/137 cranks. I have only riden with them in the 165 hole. I don’t think I could do a 16% grade with even the 165 cranks. The steepest I have done on the Impulse is 11% and that was tough enough. I do an 18% grade on my 24 inch with 150 cranks, but that is tough too.

Good luck on the London to Brighton ride. Just do it!

Guess this post is a little off topic, but it is your thread and you asked the questions.

Cheers, Jeff

Pipe cutter for a cleaner cut. But more important than the cutting tool is the file you use afterward. Make all the edges finger-friendly and you’ll be much happier (as will the insides of the adjoining tubes).

For training, try to do at least a couple of long rides, to get an idea of how you feel and how you can ride after lots of miles. Also train beyond the rigors of the ride. Be comfortable on the cycle. Practice quick stops, quick turns, riding is a crowd of bikes (if you can find one). People on bikes are dumb. That many people on unicycles would be about as dumb, but not quite as likely to cause you to crash. Expect bonehead moves by the cyclists in front of you.

Don’t change anything in your setup or clothing right before the ride. Get it dialed into what works, and stick with that. No new parts, new shorts, etc. the night before! Drink enough and eat enough. And remember to have a blast and be friendly to the makers of the same old comments!

Closest experience I have to that event is the New York City 5-Boro Bike Tour, which I did several times between 1985-93. 36-42 miles through the city, with about as many cyclists as the Brighton ride. Pretty crazy! For me it was the crotch and knees that would have more trouble than the legs and lungs. For long rides I’ll use glucosamine supplements to help protect the knees. And use my brakes on the downhills (applies to the Lake Tahoe tour)!

Flyjeffva . . .sorry to hear about your wrist, gaurds are a good idea. I am now considering the flexmeter wrist guards, but have concerns about the restriction of movement making braking more difficult. Are you looking at the ones that have a splint on both sides or just on one?

Roger Davies he also mentioned wrist guards, and your right to say that its not a bad idea for new riders. I’m going to go try on a few different makes this weekend.

On the subject of Roger, just gota say I was lucky enough to have him answer the phone at when I first inquired about getting a 36". I told him what I planned to do (London to Brighton) and his advice has been invaluable. He’s has been a great source of information - and has made time to talk me through some of the finer points distance riding. His support has been fantastic.

Thank You Roger :slight_smile:

My 36" Nimbus ‘Impulse’ Unicycle with ‘Shadow’ Handle arrived today and I’m half way through setting it up, had to stop because off school pick-up time! Cant wait to jump on it and ride off, or more likley, fall off. :slight_smile:

Johnfoss . . . Thanks for your advice, not surprisingly you and Roger have similar ideas on how to do it. :slight_smile: The glucosamine supplements are something I hadn’t considered, and at my age I probably should. Do you only use them on the day of the ride, or is it an all year round kinda deal? Regarding braking, Its on my to do list. Crotch and knees are also where I feel it, but I’m sure that riding the 36" longer distances may also get my legs and lungs too!

The London to Brighton is defiantly gonna be a blast, so long as i get my training in.

Question . . . Should I be learning the 36" with or without shadow handle attached. I’m tempted to try it with, as that’s the set-up that I’m planning on using.

P.S. This being my first thread, I’m amazed and delighted by the response from the unicycling community. Just goes to show what a great bunch we all are. :slight_smile:

Glucosamine supplements are reported to be every bit as effective as a placebo for reducing joint pain:

I have no experience with them either way.


I ordered the flexmeters with the dual splints. I want maximum protection. I use the Shadow Handle and hope the restricted movement will be tolerable. Will reply once I know.

I think you’ll have an easier and safer time if you start without the handle. Both the 36er and the handle take some time to get used to. Best to fight those battles separately. Once you get to the point where turns are smooth and mounting is fairly reliable, then add the handle.

I just can’t resist giving contradictory advice.:slight_smile: I say “Start with the handle.” I went from 30 years of riding 24" and 27" unicycles without ever laying a hand on a seat handle to a 36" V-frame guni with aerobars. The handle bars in no way hampered my transition. From day one I appreciated having something substantial to hang on to for dear life.:smiley:
Try it out with the bars. See how it feels. You’ll definitely want those bars on the long rides. Learn it right the first time. Otherwise you’ll have to learn the big wheel with out the bars and then change your riding style when you put the bars on.


Anything you only do on the day of will probably be a problem. Like trying a new seat. The most important thing to do is to condition your knees/body to long rides. Then I back that up with the supplements, taking the recommended dose for at least a week leading up to the big ride, and more on the day of.

My knees are probably a little more sensitive than others, but I really learned the braking lesson on my first Lake Tahoe attempt. I didn’t use the brake enough on the many downhills, and eventually burned out my knees. Before I’d gotten 30 miles, I was walking the downhills. I could still ride the uphills, but the downhills were too painful.

I will go with Naturequack and say with. Three reasons. First, you bought the thing. Start by holding the seat handle, but also start getting used to the idea early on as well. Second, it might help you to avoid seat-dropping dismounts. The less dropping you do, the longer you go between needing new cranks & things. Third, the Shadow was designed for relatively inexpensive replacement of the handles while not having to replace the whole thing. Just don’t get it custom powdercoated. :slight_smile:
Or do, as I have also found that to be deterrent to crashing…

…in people who suffer from Osteoarthritis. If I have that, I don’t know about it. What I suffer from on long rides is basic knee abuse. The stuff seems to work for that. And my dog takes it every day. She walks different if we miss a day. So maybe she doesn’t have Osteoarthritis either, though the vet recommended it. She’s 13.

scott ttocs . . . I fully appreciate and understand your position regarding glucosamine, I have never taken supplements and barely ever take a headache pill. In my experience people do all sorts of things to achieve their goals, if it works for them and doesn’t hurt them or anyone else, who am I to say that it’s wrong. That being said, if I find myself in a position where my diet is not providing what my body needs, I too may try alternatives. For long rides I am considering taking ibuprofen due to the anti-inflammatory effects (and I suppose the painkiller in it may also be off some benefit). :slight_smile:

Flyjeffva . . . the flexmeters with the dual splints look great, and with screws and metal now in your wrist it obviously even more important that you look it. Let me know how you get on with them and get well soon.

aarons vs. naturequack & johnfoss . . . a bit of controversy goes a long way. :smiley:

Not having ridden anything larger than a 24" and then jumping straight to a 36" with handlebars maybe a bit foolhardy, but that seems to be the way I go about things. If I can visualise it I go for it. This method worked for me the last time I learned to ride a unicycle . . . but that was 33 years ago! I think in this case I’m gonna go with naturequack, take the bull by the horns and try and hold on. :astonished: If I don’t get anywhere then I’ll take the handlebars off and start again.

A few weeks back I was stupid enough to Uni the 5 miles to work with 15Kg of tools on my back, thought that the extra weight would help with my conditioning as the distance was short. All was going well until I looked back over my shoulder to check for traffic before making a turn. When I swung back to face forward, the backpack (one without chest straps) pendulumed and spun me off. I don’t have much natural padding on me and hit the curb with my pelvis pretty hard. Turns out I took a chip out of it. :o Think I’ll be looking at getting a CamelBak.

Question . . . I’ve been told there are mountain bike shorts with hip guards in, does anyone out there have any experience of these and do they work well?

Handlebars are at their worst during mounts (and sometimes dismounts). I recommend using the handle built onto the seat for mounting, and using that as your “base” to start getting used to using the handlebar. I had an “intermediate” handlebar setup for a long time before going to the Shadow; a Wyganowski handle with a little T on top, for upright riding, and then some bar ends down on the front for a somewhat tuck position. It would have taken me a while to get comfortable without that T on top, so take your time getting used to the long Shadow bar. Don’t expect it to feel comfortable/stable for a while.

I’ve seen them but not tried them. They may be overkill for your needs (and expensive?). You can also try regular bike shorts with other shorts over them, which is how I often ride.

Hey there Johnfoss . . . Thought the hip guard shorts might be overkill . . .if I went all out I’d end up in full body armor, good for falling, not so good for distance unicycling.

I’ll be using the seat handle to mount, but will attempt to use the shadow handle for riding from the start. On the 24" I was holding the seat handle with both hands on the longer rides. I’m pretty sure that even if I hold the Shadow handle on the 36’er it will probably only be with one at the start, while the other flails about wildly. :slight_smile: