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19 July 2011
After months of training on his bike, Andrew Snell, HR Officer at Southend YMCA took to the streets for the London2Southend bike ride raising over £400 for charities. On Sunday 17th July thousands of riders joined him for an event organised by The British Heart Foundation in a route that started in Victoria Park, London and finished at Priory Park, Southend. Below is his personal account of the days events...
After a sleepless night, I was able to get to Victoria Park in Stratford earlier than my proposed start time and after a few minutes of checking I had all I needed, I set off through the gated entrance at about 7.15am and out into the unknown.
After about 100 metres, a woman asked me the time and we rode together for a mile or so, she asked me about my training and when I responded, I returned the comment and was greeted with 'I haven't trained for this' at that point she shot off into the distance and that was the last time I saw her. I thought to myself that set an ominous tone for the day.
The first section was from Victoria Park to Stapleford Abbots (approximately 13 miles), the first few miles was gentle undulations and touched on the back corner of the Olympic Park, however, about 4 miles in, the road began to climb and climb, even when it levelled out, you would go round the next corner and there would be another hill. I tried to ignore the club cyclists who were going up the hills like they weren't there and set my own pace. The road levelled out around Chigwell Row and it was just a case of keeping pedalling to the first rest stop which was by this stage just over 2 miles away and was a welcome sight when it came into view....
After a quick ten minute stop, I left and began the next stage between Stapleford Abbotts and Mountnessing, this section was a lot flatter and the average speed was increased which meant I was able to eat into the miles. After a few miles, I rode over the top of the M25 and it was amazing how different it looked when viewed from a different perspective. The rest stop at Mountnessing was soon upon me and it was the Windmill, I decided to stop and take in the view but was soon moving again about 20 minutes later.
The third section was from Mountnessing to the Hanningfields, the first road sign I saw was 'Billericay 4', this was a bit of a shock as I didn't realise that I was that far down and a pleasant surprise as these are roads I was getting more familiar with. The pleasant surprise soon turned into disappointment as I was greeted with more hills, after a drawn out hill down a country lane, I got to the next junction and the marshal said you are 2 miles over half way (is that all!!).
At the junction you turned left into the main road between Billericay and Galleywood and halfway up the hill leading into Stock, unfortunately the road was very busy and there was no pavement so there was no option other than to peddle to the top and after a few hundred yards turned into the lanes where I had done the majority of the training rides. I was soon down to Hanningfield Reservoir and the next few miles followed around the edge, after a very quick break at the Nature Reserve I was off again and heading down to Rettendon. I had previously arranged to meet my family at the Rettendon Bell and after another brief pit stop was off again to Rettendon Village. This was soon past next stop Battlesbridge.
It was at this point that the rain came down for the first time, anyway, I was soon down to the Barge Inn and had to wait to cross the bridge, whilst waiting the marshal declared just 16.2 miles to go (how much!!). This was where the legs began to ache but carrying own regardless, I was soon through Hullbridge and on the way towards Canewdon. I began to get a little more positive at this stage as I thought it is just a hip, skip and jump from Rochford but no, the road turned and I was off to Stambridge. This section was probably the hardest as the road run through fields so the wind made the action twice as hard, after what seemed like an eternity, the chimney at Rochford Hospital was in view and I got added enthusiasm.
After a quick blast alongside the airport, I was soon in a road which I thought would take me to Cuckoo's Corner, I was wrong as the Bell Pub came into view and we were heading across the lights and up towards Prrittlewell Chase. Sensing the end was now in sight, I blasted along that road and turned left at the bottom and across the Bridal Boutique junction; I was now running alongside Priory Park and after a little while turned into one of the entrance. It was at this point two very welcome sights came into view, firstly, the faces of family and friends become visible in the crowd and, secondly, the most welcome sight of all the finish banner, where I got my medal and certificate.
So why did I put myself through this? The purpose of the ride was to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation; however, I decided early on that they would only get half whatever was raised. The other half is destined for the Crohn's and Colitis UK charity. Two close friends are sufferers from Crohn's and I have watched over the years where they have been in and out of hospital in extreme pain, so to put myself through a few hours of suffering to help them, and other sufferers, is a tiny gesture.
It is thanks to everyone's extreme generosity that the final figure raised is a fantastic £420, after a donation to one of the Southend YMCA projects both charities will receive just under £200 pounds each. Thank you everyone for your support and thank you to the learners at Southend YMCA who made me up a banner to greet me at the park.
Find out more about the London to Southend bike ride here.