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Author Topic: The May 2007 London-Brighton Run  (Read 5271 times)

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The May 2007 London-Brighton Run
« on: 03, March, 2009 - 11:01:00 »
The original thread was on the old forum, and I can't seem to find it on this newer version, so I've repeated it here  :)

For those new to c5alive and this forum, we held a London to Brighton run in May 2007. Starting at Lambeth Bridge and finishing at Preston Park.

Some piccies from the day ;


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Re: The May 2007 London-Brighton Run
« Reply #1 on: 03, March, 2009 - 11:16:44 »
Here's the article I wrote in 2007 that was published (edited) in the BVS magazine;

Some words regarding the London to Brighton Sinclair C5 run on 6th May 2007.

The idea was first suggested around February this year, with Mark placing an item in the meetings section of his web based C5 shop ( It was agreed to try and raise some money for BBC Children in Need, a charity we previously supported on a High Wycombe run, December 2006.

Since I live in Crawley and regularly commute to London, it naturally fell to me to plan the route. I chose to break the route up into five mile sections, allowing each vehicle and rider a chance to cool down and swap batteries as necessary. I estimated a 12-hour journey time and suggested each stop take no more than 5-10mins.
Once completed, Mark and I viewed the route from the comfort of my old Mercedes and gave it the thumbs up. We also arranged a practice run in Crawley on 24th March (2007), a 10-mile route using a mixture of the busier roads and cycle lanes, to give an idea of what we were letting ourselves in for. It was also a convenient test for battery range. The local press turned up and did quite a nice feature on our preparations.

My own preparations included the fitting of a cooling fan to reduce the chances of my C5 shutting down and a twin-battery conversion for long range. Plus I stopped using the lift at work, used the stairs, and went on 10 mile “training runs” in my C5 every week. Sadly, this did little to prepare my flabby leg muscles for the torture they were about to endure !

From a logistics point of view, we hired a large van. This was used to ferry the C5’s, which were stockpiled at my house, to London for the start of the run. It was then used to carry all the batteries and a spare C5 during the run itself. It became a very welcome sight and a definite source of reassurance and comfort during the Big Day.

The number of people wanting to take part in the event varied from six to eleven, before settling on eight riders. The crews for the day were Mark (c5alive), his dad Alan, Olly, Johnny, Neil, Hank, Paul and I (Karl). Sadly, Hank had to drop out the day before the run having been diagnosed with tonsillitis. 

Mark, Alan, Johnny & Neil stayed overnight at my house on Saturday before getting up at 4am on Sunday to begin the Big Day. Due to the amount of C5’s and batteries, the van had to make a return journey meaning a 90minute delay to our original start time. Paul and Olly met us at the start point in Millbank, London (near Houses of Parliament).We had hoped to be on the road between 6am-7am, but did not actually start until 0830. The magnificent seven were finally rolling !

It was a great sense of relief to get moving, all the anxieties and worries fading away. The first leg of the trip, London to Crawley, was excellent.  Most of us experienced a few minor niggles with chain adjusters and accessories (mirrors, weather panels) requiring some adjustment/fettling. As the miles rolled by, we were pleasantly surprised at the apparent ease of our progress. My concerns regarding some of the major road junctions proved unfounded as each came and went with no incident – Vauxhall Cross, Fiveways, Purley Cross all navigated with ease. The only mechanical drama occurred at Coulsdon when a gearbox failed. No real hassle, the damaged C5 was placed in the van and the spare C5 put into use. The damaged C5 was later repaired during the Crawley lunch stop.  Battery endurance was also a pleasant revelation, my two “genuine” Sinclair batteries providing a range in excess of 20miles.

A major surprise, and highlight, was the fantastic response from the public. Lots of applause, thumbs up and other positive gestures. Even motorists caught up in a traffic jam of our making went past tooting and waving their support. Amazing.

My daughter had been religiously updating the forum on the C5alive website with details of our progress. She was impressed at the speed of our journey, reaching Crawley for our lunch stop at 1300hrs – four and a half hours for the first leg. We were greeted by several neighbours, friends and family lining the road on both sides applauding us and waving flags. A real “lump in the throat” moment.

The second leg started at about 1400hrs & proved a totally different kettle of fish. The terrain changed from flat urban roads to hilly country lanes. A succession of three large ascents between Crawley and Cuckfield saw me and my C5 struggling. Even the combination of scheduled and unscheduled stops saw it start to overheat and my legs go wobbly. At this point I really wished I had trained harder for the physical aspect of the trip! I’ve never felt so overweight and unfit…I can feel health club membership beckoning.

Several of us had to stop and take an unscheduled breather as the slow, tortuous hill-climbing continued, for me a real low point of the trip. On the plus side, some of the downhill sections were an absolute blast. Wind in the hair, bugs in the face squeezing as much speed as possible out of your trusty steed - reminiscent of my teenage moped riding days. One sight that will stay with me forever is that of Alan, not far off 60years old, singing out of tune to his MP3 player and smoking a fag overtaking me going uphill. Not bad considering he has a heart complaint and diabetes. I really must join that health club !

Sadly, my C5 overheating problems continued to get worse until we stopped at Ansty Cross. Mark suspected my rear brake binding was not helping my progress, nor my chain slipping due to a broken tensioner – but in truth my lack of peddling ability was also a contributing factor! It didn’t help that my twin battery conversion also doubled the battery weight my C5 was carrying. Suffice to say, despite my preparations – I had cooked my C5 to the point it suffered a major shutdown. Even leaving it to cool off for 20minutes did not help. It refused to power up, meaning the van was called in to deliver the spare so that I could continue the run.

The remainder of the journey went well. We discovered that batteries that had been “optimised” (used for 6 full charge/discharged cycles) worked very well. Brand new batteries did not.

The final part of the journey, Pyecombe to Preston Park, was a bit of an eye-opener. Again, the terrain changed for the worst. Country lane gave way to busy dual carriageway. We also had no choice but to use a short section of the four lane A23 before we reached the refuge of the small path that runs alongside.  Some of us were a bit freaked by cars whizzing past at 70+ mph ! Adding to the fun, Olly’s C5 stopped playing, but it was soon sorted by some frantic wire wiggling.

Crossing the A23/A27 interchange was also quite a sight. Seven C5’s being pulled across the footpath crossing by tired riders, frantically running for the gap laughing like madmen. Quite a sight I assure you. Unknown to us, at the same time several ambulances went screaming past Preston Park northbound. Friends and family waiting for us were a little concerned thinking some of us had met a gruesome end. 
Pulling in to Preston Park was an almost spiritual moment. The sense of achievement was immense, the emotional roller-coaster quite a surprise. My tearful wife saying she was so proud of me, plus the enthusiastic applause and support confirmed it had all been worthwhile.

Shame the media showed so little interest in the main event, despite covering the preparations, but then that’s life!
Despite being told by several people “in the know” that it could not be done, we have proved that it can.

You just require a good dose of British eccentricity and sheer determination to succeed.     

Sadly most of those who took part have moved on from c5alive, but I've still got some good memories of the event and feel proud to have taken part.