Koru Architects’ Issi Rousseva has just returned from a four-day Brighton2Brussels charity cycle trip.
The challenge, organised by the Brighton and Hove Property Consortium (BAHPC), was in aid of the Mayor’s current charities, which are Martlets Hospice, Albion in the Community, RISE, Sussex Heart Charity and The Clock Tower Sanctuary.
This year the event began with a difference: 450ft in the air inside Brighton’s iconic British Airways i360. The cyclists rode around the pod to attempt a world record – a ‘Mile in the Sky’ on the BTN BikeShare bikes – before setting off towards Belgium.
In Brussels they toured the EU parliament and opened Brighton Fringe festival via live video link.
The cyclists then spent the next three days of the hot Bank Holiday weekend making their way back to Brighton – covering more than 150 miles through the Belgian and French countryside from Brussels to Lille via Aalst, Oudenaarde (including the infamous Koppenberg Hill) Bruges, and Ypres.
The team arrived back on Sunday 6 May at 5pm where they rode through the official finish line at Brighton Fringe City.
We asked Issi why she decided to take part in Brighton2Brussels:
I’ve always wanted to get into cycling but I’ve always been scared of cycling on roads. This event was for a great cause and I thought it would be a good way to get over my fear, plus there were lots of great people in the industry going, many of whom I already knew.
Were you a keen cyclist beforehand?
No, I hadn’t cycled since I was a child.
What was the most challenging part of the experience?
The most challenging part was probably the last 20 miles of an 85 mile cycle – in the blazing sun.
We also had some difficult routes, particularly a section along a railway track where I clipped my tyre and fell. I had fractured my ribs during a collision on previous group training exercise so I was already sore.
What was the most memorable part of the experience?
Riding through stunning Belgian countryside with lots of people who are now my friends – it was a great bunch of people. There was a really great atmosphere and beautiful views.
And the rewarding feeling of arriving at the hotel after a day of cycling 85 miles. It was supposed to be 75 miles but we did a little accidental detour! So it was really rewarding finally getting there.
Another memorable experience was crossing the finish line with a cheering crowd and people photographing us as we cycled through Brighton.
Would you do it again?
I think I need to be asked that question again once all my injuries have healed! But I’m really into cycling now, and I’m definitely going to keep it up. The group have arranged Sunday cycling sessions, so I’ll definitely do that. I would have to think about another long trip… but probably yes, I probably would.
There’s still time to sponsor Issi and the rest of the Brighton2Brussels team. Head to: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/issi-rousseva