Saddle up for the ‘beast of the east’

CYCLISTS are preparing for a gruelling bike ride later this month to raise money for The British Heart Foundation.

The 71-mile challenge on August 28 begins in Crystal Palace, taking in the North Downs and High Weald before finishing in Grosvenor Gardens, Hastings.

It is only in its second year but has already been branded ‘the beast from the east’ due to the challenging nature of the event and it is not for the faint-hearted.

Martin Mears, head of events at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and a Hastings resident, said: “This is becoming a Hastings town highlight with locals showing their support for a real beast of an event.

“We hope more will come along and take part. Although this isn’t the longest of our on-road bike rides, we consider it to be the hardest test of stamina as it consists of the most hills.”

Last year about 1,000 people took part and this time around nearly 500 cyclists have already registered.

But the BHF is looking for more riders to sign up, either with friends, family, colleagues or as a solo ride.

This is also the BHF’s 50th anniversary and organisers hope to raise £50,000. It is hoped each participant brings in £50 - £1 for every year of the charity’s existence.

Previous participant Natalie Lucas said: “I took part in the BHF’s London to Paris bike ride a couple of years ago and I wanted to support the nation’s heart charity in another event this year. The hills and scenery on the new London to Hastings 71-mile route appealed to me and it’s certainly the challenge I’m looking for.

“Knowing I am helping to save lives while enjoying a sport I love is a fantastic feeling and I would encourage any keen cyclists to sign up.”

Register on 0808 100 2109, email and you can register online at

Participants can also set up a sponsorship page at and the entry fee is £18.