London to Brighton on an old Marin


Old School Hero
I have perhaps stupidly, definitely whilst slightly drunk, signed up to do the London to Brighton bike ride . And even more stupidly I have decided I want to do it on a 90s mountain bike and to try to build it in about a week . I also want to keep up with my mate who will be riding a proper road bike😬.
I started (yesterday) on a 92 Marin Eldridge grade frame which isn’t in as good nick as I thought it was…forks especially are a bit rusty but I’m carrying on regardless ( if anyone has any better ones they’d be interested in selling please let me know) .
Is it a terrible idea to set it up as a 1x9 for this London to Brighton ? How steep is Ditchling beacon, anyone done it?
I’m trying to use parts I already have, 9 speed stuff and a nice race face 36 tooth narrow wide chainring , modernish deore cranks. Alternatively I also have a shimano grx 2x crankset…any issues with putting something like that on a frame like this? Might appreciate it up that hill…but would need to buy a suitable front derailleur.
I need a seat post too, got one for a previous build at 26.4mm and it seemed a little loose for this frame…is this the correct size ?
Anyway this is the progress so far , please excuse the modern cranks and blue chainring. It’s being cobbled together in a hurry. Any tips on how to make it slightly more road suitable also appreciated IMG_0027.jpeg IMG_0016.jpeg
I have done it a couple of times, the road and off road versions. Road I did on my 93 team RTS, shod with slicks and 3x9 m952, the off road I did on my 93 DBR Axis TT. This was fitted with 3x9 m970 and some lovely Judy fax forks with Englund air cartridges (miss those a lot).

Both bikes coped fine, and I survived.

The beacon is a killer though, not just as it's steep and long, but also because you have to slalom around many people walking their bikes up it or riding super slowly. I was quite proud of myself as I managed to cycle my way to the top without resorting to walking, having a granny ring and using the larger sprockets really helped me achieve this. Having a big ring and small cogs out the other side helped me blast down at over 40 miles an hour too.

Nice looking marin btw, only think I can suggest on making it more road is slick tyres larger ring and a close ratio cassette.
Yeah, I've done it on my mountain bike and it was totally fine. Mind you I was in my 20s back then...

I would include low gearing for the beacon as it's quite a hill. Fortunately, it's not that long - but it comes towards the end so you need something left in the tank for it. We dawdled getting there so it wasn't too bad for avoiding others, but yes the majority I saw walked. Definitely check the fit of the bike too, and maybe bar ends would at least give you multiple positions. It's a long time in the saddle if the fit isn't exactly right. I would try to get at least 10-20 miler in on it beforehand.
I was thinking bar ends might be a good idea, I have some Michelin country rock 1.75 tyres but maybe something even slicker would be better. Which ones do people like?
Just to back up what others have said, 36T upfront with a minimum 32T on the back should be okay up Ditchling – any higher and you're going to suffer unless you're super-fit...
Are you doing the road version next year or the Off-road version on September 23rd?
I've signed myself up for the Off-road version this year, but as it's the 1st time I've done it....I will be riding modern 1x11. I'd want to see how it goes before trying retro another year.
Saying that, we used to ride Mountain Mayhem / Sleepless in the Saddle / Dusk 'til Dawn ....short laps on Retro without problems.
My thoughts were comfort for the distance though. Don't think my Retro body would cope with 60 miles in the same way!

Here's this year's choice of ride. It is Steel though!

I did it several times in the eighties, initally on a road bike and later on one of those new fangled, never gonna catch on mountain bikes, (a Raleigh Maverick). As the ride became more popular it became difficult to clean the the three big climbs of the day because of other riders pushing their steeds so it would be better for you if you can choose an early or late start.
I would also add to the excellent advice already given by others, be very confident of your brakes as there will be many novice riders unused to riding in groups.
Oh, and have a great time, looking forward to the pics.
Fast rolling tyres is all you want really. I'm assuming it is the road version you are doing as you mentioned your friend is on a modern road bike. Ditchling Beacon is pretty easy, if your fit, if you are not then be prepared for a 15 minute walk. As above the worse part is trying to navigate all the walkers and people grinding their way up it. If you want a proper day out then road route there and the off-road back :eek:
Yep the road version on the 10th September (next weekend) . I haven’t actually thought about how I’m getting home from Brighton yet so coming back off road could be a proper day out and my only option haha