London to Brighton bike ride attracts 27,000 cyclists

Early arrivals in Brighton
Image caption The first riders began arriving in Brighton three hours after the start

More than 27,000 cyclists have taken part in the 54-mile London to Brighton bike ride in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

Riders set off from Clapham Common from 06:00 BST, with the first arriving at the finish just before 09:00.

The toughest part of the ride was the climb up 813ft (247m) Ditchling Beacon just outside Brighton, which takes an average of 15 minutes to scale.

The event, which is now in its 37th year, has raised more than £50m.

Among the riders taking part was Toby Field from Eastbourne, also known as the Fat Cycle Rider, who has lost 8st 14lb in weight since taking up cycling.

His father died from a weight-related heart attack at the age of 55, and Mr Field said after his father's death he was in denial about his own health problems.

"I wanted a cheap bike so I could ride around the park with my kids. I was walking and they were leaving me behind. That's where it all started."

Image caption Tony Field, who has lost more than 8st since taking up cycling, at the finish

Road closures were in place along the route out of London, through the boroughs of Reigate and Banstead and Tandridge in Surrey and through Sussex into Brighton.

Southern Railway and First Capital Connect do not allow bikes to be carried on trains on race day, but a park and ride service operated between Brighton Racecourse and Madeira Drive.

Bus services were redirected and Brighton and Hove Bus and Coach company said the A23 into Brighton was gridlocked at about midday because of the race.

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