Bike Ride: Done
Follow-up to BHF Hearts First Bike Ride, London to Southend 2005 from -[ The Jarvism ]-
About a month ago I mentioned that I would be riding 58 miles to raise money for the British Heart Foundation… Today I did that ride!
The entire Route Map can be found here
Clicking on the images will englarge them.
All photos used below can be found in the London to Southend 2005 Gallery
Over the past few weeks I have been having numerous problems with the bike and the gears. The bike has done a few thousand miles by now, and has done the London to Southend bike ride 4 times in the past. The sprockets, chainrings, chain and jockey wheels were well worn. With more agro then there should have been, I eventually got the entire drive train replaced, thats front chainrings and cranks, chain, rear sprocket cassette and rachet freewheel, and rear gear derailleur ALL replaced. Previous to this I had already dismantled the suspension mechanisms and greased them all. On saturday, the day before the ride I then recalibrated and readjusted the brakes so they both clamped on like vice, and tuned the gears, aswell as give the bike a quick clean. Finally, I bolted the air horn to the bike, and then decided to strap my phone holder onto the handlebars aswell. Considering my phone is a Sony Ericsson P800, this would mean my bike has a touch screen dashboard with internet access (MultiMap like SatNav) and an insanely loud air horn. In addition to my 1Gb MP3 player with enough music to play for the whole day, I was pretty well geared up, better than some cars! And don't worry, I also had a bluetooth headset for phonecalls so I wasn't distracted from riding! Yes, I know I'm very VERY sad. My mum made me 10 peanut butter sandwiches for the day, and I bought twix bars and mint creams, all good for energy and carbohydrates and sugars. I also froze a 2 litre bottle of Evian so I had cold water through the day.
The Big Day
So, with food and drink ready, and a mini toolkit set, spare inner tube and Jetflate gas inflator thing, I was ready. I didnt get much sleep admitedly, but at 4:45am, I got up and showered and did some last minute preparations, and wore the event Tshirt and some zip off trousers for when the heat came. I set off for Southend Victoria train station at about 5:50am to be there in time for the very early train at 6:20 to Stratford. There is normally a dedicated train that leaves at 7 but this year was done differently, there was a normal train for commutors aswell but larger and cyclists were allowed to board this train. However, this caused problems as we piled our bikes in the door area (the only place they could go) and often blocking the opposite door. This wasnt a problem until we came to random stations where the platform was on the wrong side! Nobody could get on or off!! Anyway, the train arrived at about 7:10am ish, so I arrived far earlier than in previous years.
The Start – Victoria Park, London
Upon arriving at Stratford we then had to cycle to Victoria Park. It was a nice morning, cool but not chilli and rather clear. I stayed for a while as I phoned home to inform my mum of my arrival, and spent some time doing some last minute checks of the bike, going to the loo, applying sun lotion and eating! Also got a phonecall from Chris wishing me luck who would normally be riding with me but was unable to this year. Small groups of riders were starting every few minutes in small packs, so when I was ready, I moved over to the start line to join a group and we began at 8:25am. Their air horn was rather weak and running out of gas so I blasted mine instead! And so, off I went, to begin the 58 Mile route back home.
First stop, Chigwell
After a good 50 mins of riding out of London, the scenery became less urban and more rural. Then a rather welcomed sign saying "Welcome to Chigwell, Essex". This was the first significant symbol of progress. Its London to Southend, and I was now out of London! The morning stayed nice and clear and sunny, and I stopped at a Beefeater in Chigwell (I think) with a fine view over the countryside. The official stopping place on the map was The Maypole, Chigwell Row, and to be honest I'm not sure if this was the place but we had stopped on previous years there. I arrived at about 9:15am, not sure how long I stopped for but some phone calls were made and food eaten!
Second Stop, Mountnessing
The "mount" in Mountnessing does in fact bare some meaning like Mount Everest. Getting here was a bit up and down, and there were some mean hills to climb. Luckily, there were also some decent hills to come down! Only managed a maximum speed of 32.8mph down a large hill, but that was without pedalling and purely by gravity! On one hill, I saw a man riding a special bike where you virtually lie down and pedal infront of you. I have seen such contraptions before and thought they were rather cool. His head was about my saddle height and being so low down made him much more streamlined and he seriously flew down the hills! I don't think it would be an exageration to say he probably went above 40mph! That must be scary since he was so close to the concrete!
Mountnessing stop itself is a small field with a large windmill which is visiable from the train on the way up. Many people stop here as there is more room and food and drink is available from tents in the form of cakes! There was also a pub close by and mechanics. A fair few people need mechanics by this point since this is about half way and the hills take their toll on the bikes. I think it was 2002 when I needed the assistance of a mechanic because my gears had started to go! 3 Years later they went completely! I got here at about 10:10am. Annoyingly, the men's toilet had a small queue!! Not the women as you would expect, I couldn't be bothered waiting though so went in the ladies! A few other guys followed suit! I removed the bottom part of my zip off trousers so I now had long shorts! It was getting nice and warm by now.
Unofficial Third Stop, The Green Man
This was not an official stop this year but it has been in previous years. Its located somewhere outside Chelmsford and is roughly 2/3rds of the way along. Infront of the pub there was another field and by now the sun was really blazing so I reapplied my sun lotion. The weather was lovely. I was starting to feel the strain by now though, mainly from the hills, so I took the time to do some proper stretches, more than I had at previous stops. Then I hopped back on the bike and cycled to the official third stop.
Official Third Stop, East Hanningfield
No photos of this one. There were 2 pubs rather close to eachother, called The Windmill Tavern and The Three Horseshoes. I stayed a while there since It was uphilll getting there and I was rather knackered. It marked the end of the hardest stretch of the route though so I was releived. I ate loads here to refuel since it really took it out of me! I got there shortly after midday at about 12:30pm so by then the sun was really blazing and the air itself was warm and rather humid so it was very very easy to overheat, especially with cycling uphill. The rest of the route from here is not as harsh luckily and the next stop is closer by.
Fourth Stop, Hullbridge
Again, no photos I'm afraid. Getting to this stop was not bad but its long and winding and is longer than it seems on the map. Theres some gorgeous scenery though as you generally travel downhill and can see over the rolling countryside. The route took us through this countryside and some roads were encased by trees on either side which arched and met in the middle to provide some welcome shade. I do have photos from last year if people want to see. This was what it was like on route to East Hanningfield as well. Unfortunately, being country roads, the roads are narrow so cars got stuck behind us since some people were riding side by side which is not advised. The rural feel soon started to fade however as we approached some towns. We skimmed the outer edge of Wickford and went past the train station which we passed on the train.
The entrance to this stop is a bit hidden since previous stops had literally been right on the road, this one was on a turn off to enter the Hullbridge Sports Club where the stop was based. What's really harsh is that there is a really steep hill just before, possibly one of the hardest since by now everyone is knackered! Luckily I have a large megarange sprocket which made going up this hill easy, but slow. As with previous years, I was determined to cycle the whole route and not walk any part of it unless I had to (i.e. break down etc.). I arrived at just before 2pm and discovered some riders were actually up and about playing frisbee! They were not particularly running or jumping about very much though and I don't blame them! My legs were rather hot now so I removed the middle section of my trousers so I was now wearing above the knee shorts, a rarity for me! After this, I set off for the final stretch to the finish!
The Finish Line! – Priory Park, Southend-On-Sea
The scenery soon started to become familiar as the route took us into Rochford and behind Southend Airport where we were greeted by one of the only Vulcan Bombers left in the world parked at the edge of the airfield. Now the pace was picking up again as people realised this was the home run. We cycled deeper into familiar Southend and were forced to stop at traffic lights outside the main entrance to Priory Park. A rather large collection of riders stopped here, about 30 or so, and we could here the celebrations in the park! The lights went green and we cycled around the side of the park to enter at the back, ride down the path, over a small humped bridge and under the finish line tent at 3:23pm! My air horn was blasting significantly by this point! Here we finally came to a stop and were given medals and certificates. It was over.
There was a man wearing a bright yellow suit who talks over the PA system and he had been at previous year's rides. He talks very oddly and he named the finishing tent as the Tent of Triumph! He was also present at the start and he called the start line the Gantry of Go, slightly cheaper. He cracks me up with his language since he uses illiteration and, in some cases, almost Shakespearian language over the PA system to the hundreds of worn out cyclists. Priory Park itself is divided up into regious by trees and bushes and small streams and the area immediately infront of the "Tent of Triumph" was really packed with people recovering and their bikes. It was actually quite a challenge to find a place to sit and relax myself! Their was much food and drink available including an a large BBQ. There were also tents with trained masseurs for those riders who really felt the strain. I wasn't that bad, but I was considerably knackered! My friend Chris told me on the phone that I had arrived 2 hours earlier than the previous year! Even though I had left an hour earlier, this was still a significant improvement, although I did not stay at the stops for as long.
After a few phone calls and congratulations, I found a quiet spot to sit and relax in much needed shade under a tree. I ate and drank to replenish lost energy and water, and did some very thorough stretches. I then used my bag as a pillow and my bike as a foot rest and lay down. Since I was 2 hours early, Chris wasn't able to meet me until towards 5pm but I didn't mind and fully took advantage of this time to relax in the cool dappled shade of the tree.
Looking at my bike and my legs propped up on it, I felt a great sense of achievement, even though I had now done this for the 5th time. Many techinical faults with the gears on the rather old bike had jepordised the bike ride. My fitness has declined since coming to University but had improved this year.
2004's bike ride seriously killed Chris and I since we hadn't been riding much, but this year was significantly better. Our best year was probably 2002, our second one where we were at the peak of our fitness after cycling up to 25–30 miles every day during the summer holidays when we had time. But in recent years with Chris's employment and my studying, such dedication was harder to fit in. I had cycled every day during this academic year and had several trips to Leamington which overall increased my fitness, though not to the extent of past years.
Doing it by myself this year made me feel very pleased of my success. The replacement gearing worked faultlessly, and the bike was in very good shape, not bad for its age and mileage. Now that the drivetrain has been replaced, I hope to get alot more riding out of it yet! My measily looking legs managed to get me through, my back and arms ached from the cycling posture held for hours on end, and even though sun lotion was used, I had aquired a noticable tan, shame my legs still look white as a sheet! Its very VERY rare that I get my legs out anyway so its ok!
Now its over, I can't wait until next year's one! Chris said he is doing it no matter what, and we may even have an extra person, but thats unconfirmed! We also have vague plans for doing it in fancy dress! But until then, I'm quite proud to have another certificate to put up on show!
- Distance Travelled: 58.33 Miles
- Travel Time (Excluding Stops): 4 Hours 29 Minutes 22 Seconds
- Overall Time (Including Stops): 6 Hours 58 Minutes
- Average Travel Speed: 12.99 mph
- Average Overall Speed: 8.37 mph
- Approximate number of wheel rotations: ~45,000
- Approximate number of pedal strokes: ~20,000
- Total mileage for the day (includes travelling to/from start/finish): ~70 Miles
Fuel Consumption Stats
- 7 Sandwiches
- 4 Double Twix Bars
- Half a packet of Mint Creams
- 1 Slice of Cake
- 2.25 Litres of Water
- 1 Litre of Lukozade Sport
Random Rider Stats
- My number: 2531
- Lowest Number seen: 22
- Highest Number seen: 3000 exactly
- Number of tantems seen: 3
- Number of Quindems seen: 0 (Where were you Halfords??)
- Number of Choppers seen: 2
- Largest group seen: 13 members
- Hottest Outfit: Full length black furry (about an inch thick) gorilla costume with 6 inch thick black afro wig, Worn by a guy on a chopper
- Coolest Outfiit: Woman riding in just a bikini top and hotpants
Number of dead animals seen on the route
- 2 hedgehogs
- 1 squirrel
- 1 magpie
- 0 Cyclists (Fortunately)
Sponsorship Stats - Most important!
(This will be updated, Last updated 06 October 2005)
- Number of Sponsors: 23
- Total Sponsorship: £235.71
- Approximate Gift Aid Donations: ~£50.63 (Tax reclaimed and donated)
A very big thank you to all of you who sponsored me!! Even though the event is over, you may still donate to the British Heart Foundation via the online sponsor form until the end of september. Thank you.