Kev Bawn, Skylah’s granddad and his dedicated team cycled from London to Brighton and raised in excess of £2,000 for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT). Kev takes us through their fantastic achievement…

“So it’s 5 o’clock on a brisk September morning in Milton Keynes ,the alarm has just gone off and it’s time to wake up and get ready for our challenge which is the London to Brighton cycle ride for my grand-daughter Skylah Mae and C.H.E.C.T.

We have to be at Colin’s the brother in laws house at 6am, his van is loaded with 6 bikes all ready to go, unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control (falling off a house roof!!!!) Colin cannot do the ride and is gutted but we have a late replacement, so #TeamSkylah is now Mark, Dennis, Dean, Paul, Trevor (Colin’s replacement) and myself.

So just after 6am we set off, 5 people in the van, 5 in Kim’s the sister in laws car on route to Clapham Common. The drive down is good and we arrive around 7:30am. All the bikes are out, the C.H.E.C.T shirts are on, numbers are pinned to the shirts, the Lycra is on and all the pockets are filled with energy pouches, bars, phones and iPods. Now it’s getting real, the adrenaline kicks in and we set off to register while the transport heads off to Brighton.

We are registered and getting ready to set off, the sun has come out – should be a good day. The last minute preparations are done and we set off just after 8am in a group of 20 -30 people out of Clapham Common. Riding through London is quite good apart from stopping and starting at traffic lights and having to clip and unclip from the pedals which is a pain but it’s better to unclip than hit the floor if you don’t!!!

The route is nice and level for the first 10 miles then we hit our first incline of many, which was not expected, called Park Hill. Unfortunately my chain slipped off half way up while changing gears and now my hands and gloves are covered in oil! I’m not happy but onwards and upwards. We all make it up the hill, regroup then set off again. There are a few more challenging hills but with every hard upward struggle there is a pleasing downward rest while you freewheel. Soon we are hitting country roads which is much better and get up a steady pace because coming up are two major hills and the “big one” as it’s been called. Hopefully all the training has paid off and we can get through these challenges.

We approach the first major hill, at around the 20 mile mark. Church Hill is a steep and narrow road with cars going up and down carrying on with their Sunday morning business, but getting disturbed by 100’s of cyclists struggling and walking up the hill. So we make it up the hill then it’s a speedy descent down the other side and now it’s time to stop, regroup and have 10 minutes to stretch take on the energy pouches and bars and chat about what we have just achieved.

Time to get back on the bikes and it’s all a nice steady pace now till our next hill and lunch stop. We approach Turners Hill around the 30 mile mark and it’s a Hill!!!!, so it’s heads down and a push to the top knowing we can stop again at the top to take on water and have some more food. We make it to the top and the rest is great because legs are now burning and there are a few aches and pains. This was hard so what is the “monster” Ditchling Beacon going to be like…

#TeamSkylah cycle London to Brighton for CHECT

Kev, his team and Skylah Mae

So rest done and it’s off again down the other side of the hill, more time to recover and then it’s a steady ride heading towards Haywards Heath, when the Beacon comes into view (my god that looks high and we have to get to the top ). We head for Ditchling, ride up the High Street, then it’s off to the left for Beacon Road around the 43 mile mark. We have decided to take on the Beacon as our own individual battle, then regroup at the top. This hill is steep and slow, a lot of people are walking but I have decided to ride to the top if I can. I slip into a low gear, put ACDC on the iPod and away I go. It’s a slow grinding slog to the top, the hill never seems to end, then there is a sign ‘not long to go’. This pushes you on, more pedalling. Will this hill never end? Another sign ‘almost there’ I keep going then you see it, the end is in sight, not long now just keep going for a few more minutes then I am at the top “Yes”! I have done it without getting off, I am so happy with myself, we regroup again, the Beacon is done – this is it boys we are on the last leg into Brighton .

We set off again. Brighton is in view from up so high. The descent is fast all the way to the outskirts where we then take the cycle route to the sea front, are guided across a roundabout and on to Madeira Drive. The end is in sight and the adrenaline and excitement is kicking in. We all cycle together, the aches and pains have gone we are there. We see the finish line and we hear the cheers from our families who have travelled down. What a feeling all worth the effort “WE HAVE DONE IT” #TEAM SKYLAH. I am so proud of everyone what a day. We did 4 hours 10 mins in the saddle but 5 hours out on the day.”

Well done and thank you from all of us here at CHECT. If you want to take on a cycle challenge and help to raise vital funds, but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry we are here to help. We can send you Olympic medallist Bryan Steel’s 50 mile handbook written especially for CHECT. Please get in touch with Fundraising Manager Fiona Heath on 020 7377 5578 or fiona.heath@chect.org.uk.