So what was I doing up at 5 am on a Sunday morning, eating a large bowl of porridge? Simple. Getting ready to leave for the London to Southend bike ride. As I live near Southend I had to get the train to London and then cycle back again.
The London to Southend is my favourite ride of the year and this is the third year I have ridden it. The ride is organised by the British Heart Foundation, a charity that is important to me as I underwent an angioplasty six years ago.
Getting out of Stratford Station and making my way to Victoria Park seemed to take forever due to the usual crowds of bikes. Still, the weather was nice and sunny (hi Alex). From the look of the roads there had been some heavy downpours along the route but luckily I missed them and didn’t get as I had feared I would.
There seemed to be a lot more people taking part this year and the roads out of London were a lot busier than usual. It would also have been a lot easier and less risky if people taking parts in events take some lessons about how to ride in group or at least think about what they are doing. I lost count of the number of times someone cut in front of me or overtook on the inside as I as pulling in. Never mind though as I got to the end without incident.
Still, there is nothing like the excitement of starting off in a ride like this, knowing there is around 55 miles in front of you before you get home. The route wound through the backstreets of Hackney and Leytonstone, before leaving the city behind and winding up the long, steep hill of Chigwell Row. The bonus though is that there is a long straight downhill too! The uphill is what looks like a mountain range at around seven miles in.
But once that is over, it is out into the country lanes of Essex. And time to play spot the bank robber’s house as we ride through Chigwell and beyond (only joking).
The rest of the ride was a lot of fun, cycling mainly through leafy lanes. The training I had been put in paid off too. There was though one hill climb near the end where my thigh muscle cramped and I couldn’t bend my leg. But after a couple of minutes rest all was fine again.
The wind was blowing fairly strongly for the last few miles too. But that did nothing to dampen the flood of emotion as I crossed the finish line 52 miles and 3 hours and 40 minutes later; a 10 minute improvement on last year.
Ride data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/9150415