Today was the first day of the Strava Rapha Festive 500 Challenge. The nature of this is to cycle 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. You can have as many or as few rides as you desire, you just need to get those 500k’s under your belt.
I failed at this challenge last Christmas, so I was determined to make a good go of it, so having finished work yesterday I had a clear day to go for a ride so I could hit the ground running so as to speak and chalk-off a few miles.
The route I had chosen was to cycle to the centre of London and back again, with my turning point being Waterloo Bridge, crossing the Thames before returning home. I have cycled into central London in the past, but on that occasion I hopped on a train back - and the fact that a single home from Waterloo is £30 I decided that there was another good incentive to return under my own steam!
It has been a few years since I have been in the centre of London, having lived there when I studied at uni and working there from graduation until my early 30’s, so it was interesting to see the changes - and there have been plenty of them, to the west end.
My route in was to follow the A30 in from Hook, past Heathrow at the bottom of the runway with the planes landing over your head, through Kensington, along Hyde Park, Piccadilly, Trafalgar Square, the Embankment, Waterloo, Westminster, Victoria, Chelsea and where half of my family hails from: Parson’s Green, before heading further out via Putney, Mortlake, Sunbury, Ashford and back on to the A30 once more at Staines for the final leg home.
Whilst lovely to traverse some familiar London streets of my past and to see the changes to the skyline, the cycling itself was a bit of a pain in the arse because as soon as you hit central London it really is stop-start with traffic lights every 50 metres, so you have no chance of getting a rhythm going!
On the way back along the A30 I realised as night fell that I was closing-in on a potential milestone and the chance to do something I had not managed before. Whilst my initial route was planned to be 85 miles, I figured, why not make it a round 100! so as I approached Winchfield, I went off and cycled the route I normally cover with Kelv on our weekly evening ride… And returned home with 102 miles under my belt and pretty much 1/3 of the miles chalked-off in a oner.
Eat pies. Drink beer. Cycle far!