Cycling 52 Miles: London To Southend

We are the champions, my friend.
Recently I had the pleasure of cycling 52 miles, from London to Southend.

I say "pleasure" in the loosest sense. My ass felt so sore, I walked like John Wayne for two days.

The whole event was a random occurrence. A friend was planning to complete the circuit with his wife. 

Unfortunately she pulled-out with injury, so he asked me if I fancied it (the bike ride, not his wife). 

Without thinking, I agreed. I'm moderately fit, how tough could it be? I guess with hindsight, I jumped into it too eagerly. I didn't want to bottle it, and let down a friend.

I resumed cycling, just last year. Back then, my focus was to remain fit and fend-off the "dadbod". If you've read my 'Cycling: Embracing The Bike, Tour de Dad' post, you'll know my story.  

My longest cycle was 20 miles; well short of 52 miles! It probably screamed "mid-life" crisis. My wife certainly thought so.

The good news is, I survived and here's a blog post about it all.

London's Calling (52 miles to go)

Cycling enthusiasts, and me.
When I agreed to this, it seemed so far away. Then before you know it, the day creeps up on you.

Stratford VeloPark, would be the start.

So at 6:30am, I boarded the train to London, with a carriage of cycling purists.

Suddenly it dawns on me, I'm a charlatan. These are passionate cycle folk, proper bike people. They've got the gear, the moves and live for this life.

Was I out my depth? Most this lot could cycle 52 miles in their sleep.
Suddenly it dawns on me, I'm a charlatan. These are passionate cycle folk, proper bike people.
I couldn't back-out now. I was committed. I'd trained, but cycling is a different type of fitness. You need endurance and stamina to last the distance. Because 52 miles is a bloody long way!

Stratford To Noak Hill

The cyle route.
The first part of the cycle, was tolerable. Some challenging hills, but nothing I couldn't handle. 

We navigated Chigwell's affluent 'golden triangle' region. Big houses, Essex's answer to Beverley Hills, minus orange tans.

After 16 miles, there's a scheduled stop in Noak Hill. I made minor adjustments to the bike. I raised the seat and pumped-up the tyres.

It was going ok. I'd bashed my shin, but the rest of me was swell. Most importantly, I wasn't embarrassing myself. My pace was reasonable, but we still had 36 miles left.

Fuel was a Ginsters sausage roll and some Red Bull. I had this, I was confident!

Mountnessing & Hanningfield 

Life is different on a bike. That's the big appeal for me. You see the beauty of nature and life's nuances.

Sadly, you also see the sh*t stuff. Abandoned vehicles, crap drivers, dead wildlife and pavements of discarded Nitrous oxide cartridges. Is this what the kids take today? Jesus Christ!

At this stage, I'm 30 miles in. The body is holding up, but one of our group gets cramp. We stop for a bit, but generally it's going well.

I'm well into it and enjoying the challenge. I'd even listened to a Tom Bilyeu podcast. God bless technology and Bluetooth earphones.

As we delve further into Essex, the smoke of London is a distant memory. This is the business end, come on!

Battlesbridge to Southend

Finish line.
The last 12 miles or so, were a slog. I think 40 miles was a good distance for me.

I lost motivation as we passed Battlesbridge into Hullbridge. I was fatigued, but still had 10 miles to complete.

The aches were present and the weather humid. Flies were completing suicide missions into my face. I couldn't quit, but I was pleased to be nearing the end.

At this point, the group was spread out. The guys with "proper" road bikes, had disappeared into the horizon.

My good friend had stayed with me, for the final few miles. In fairness, I think he could have raced away. But we stuck it out together, what a mate.

Southend's 'Priory Park' was now in sight. A few turns and we hit the finish line. Done, complete, get in, hurray!

Final Thoughts

Push your comfort zones, and challenge yourself.

Life is about testing yourself and trying out new stuff. Always accept life's challenges, wherever you can.

Cycling is awesome. Be at one with the environment and enjoy the nuances of the world around you. Keep fit, keep active and keep moving.


  1. 52 miles is a serious achievement, I hope you're super proud of yourself. And it just goes to show you don't have to be a proper biker person, whatever that means, to enjoy and complete cycling feats like this. Keep doing what you're doing

    1. It can be easy to play it safe in life. You have to push your comfort zones occasionally, how ever awkward it is. You grow by overcoming challenges! 😉👍

  2. By even attempting it you were in the top 5% in my book; those who value fitness and work to maintain it. Nice one

    1. I try my best! Lockdown and parental responsibilities can often make fitness a challenge. But, a fit, healthy and active parent, is what your kids deserve!

  3. Wow 52 miles, that's incredible. I miss bike riding.

    1. It's never too late, I only started again last year!

  4. Wow congratulations! Rather you than me but I definitely agree with pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. What an amazing achievement. Did you go on the rides after your bike ride at Southend, haha?


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