All roads lead to Southend
PUBLISHED: 10:43 11 July 2014 | UPDATED: 10:43 11 July 2014
It might not be the Tour de France, but the London to Southend Bike Ride will welcome enthusiastic cyclists for a day of fun and fundraising this month
Although one of the East of England’s most popular tourist destination’s, Southend is more than a traditional seaside resort for holidaymakers. Modern day Southend boasts a variety of live music and theatre attractions, an unforgettable nightlife, breathtaking views along the seafront, a unique shopping experience and many established events for visitors to enjoy. And this is just a taster of what the town has to offer local residents and visitors this summer.
This month, following quickly on the heels of the excitement of the Tour de France whizzing through the county on July 7, Southend will be celebrating its own two-wheel extravaganza as the London to Southend Bike Ride proves pedal power to be a potent force in aid of the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Taking place on July 20, the ride will start from Victoria Park in East London and will finish at Priory Park in Southend. The route is 53 miles long, passing through a variety of Essex destinations on the way including Chigwell, Stapleford Abbotts, Mountnessing, Battlesbridge, South Hanningfield and Rochford.
Tim Mogridge, a bike enthusiast and a sufferer of an undiagnosed heart arrhythmia, is a big supporter of this particular bike ride. Tim says: ‘This bike ride is a great opportunity for me to try and help the BHF. There’s a history of heart problems in my family, including my uncle who died from heart failure while cycling, so it felt right to take part in this event. I’m thankfully lucky my heart condition doesn’t affect me too much. Raising money for a charity is a really good incentive and it makes sure you finish, because otherwise you’re letting people down. It doesn’t matter what bike you have, as long as it’s in good working order.’
Tim adds: ‘It’s a really nice ride through the countryside! You can just enjoy the surroundings, have a chat with people as you ride and there is fish and chips to refuel with at the end!’
The event first started in 1989 and has been held for the benefit of the BHF since 2000. Annually, an average of 5,000 riders take part in this charity biking event and it raises around £150,000 for the BHF each year.
This year an extra 20 miles has been added as an optional extension, which will take riders from Rochford through Great Barling to Shoeburyness and along the seafront at Thorpe Bay into Southend, where they will meet the riders on the 53-mile route at Priory Park.
Every year there is an incentive to vary the routes, offering riders something new each time, and this year riders will have the opportunity to witness the sea when they cycle through the town.
Adam Jones, a councillor at Southend Borough Council and vice chairman of the Cultural Advisory Board, has considerable experience and interest in sport and believes events like these are great for the town. Adam explains: ‘I am someone trying to make an overall contribution to Southend. I am also passionate about promoting increased access to and involvement with sporting and cultural opportunities. I think this event represents a marvellous advertisement for Southend as a cycling city. We have invested heavily in the infrastructure to facilitate cycling and the council works very hard to promote it both as a leisure activity and sustainable, environmentally-friendly form of transport. The legacy of the 2012 Olympics and the fact that the Tour de France is coming to Essex shows this is a golden opportunity to show how accessible and exciting cycling is.’
Adam adds: ‘There is another factor that makes cycling popular — the social side. Riding as part of a group of friends is terrific fun and, of course, taking your children out on a family bike ride is such a positive experience for everyone.’
The route is signed and professionally marshalled throughout the journey and there are official refreshment stops around every 10 miles along the route where riders can get refreshments. The ride is supported by cycle mechanics, first aiders, St John Ambulance and pick up vehicles for those needing or wishing to retire from the ride.
At the finish line in Priory Park, riders are welcomed in by the BHF with a medal and a certificate and there will be a celebratory carnival atmosphere with live music, a barbeque, bar and other refreshments for the riders and spectators to enjoy.
Hayley Reynolds, regional events organiser at the British Heart Foundation, believes events like these are a great way for the community to get involved. She explains: ‘The London to Southend Bike Ride allows the opportunity to not only have the knowledge that you are saving lives, but you’re also helping yourself to keep a healthy heart. I work for the British Heart Foundation as it has affected family members and that’s why it has a special place in my heart. We’re fighting against heart disease, so please come and join us to raise money at events like this in Southend and join the fight with us.’ n
Find out more
For anyone wishing to take part in the ride or looking for further information, visit www.bike-events.co.uk/londonsouthend
Alternatively, you are able to sign up on the day at Victoria Park. Start times are between 7am and 9:15am.
This year Bike Events has introduced 100-mile options to many of its circular routes across the UK due to the upsurge in Sportive and Challenge rides. For more information, visit www.bike-events.co.uk
And there’s more
On July 26 there is another chance to cycle for charity with a great day’s cycling to raise money for AGE UK Essex and Colchester at the same time. Starting in Castle Park in Colchester, the rides offer three beautiful circular routes of 25, 50 or 75 miles, taking you along the quiet country lanes and the picturesque villages of north Essex. For more information, visit www.visitcolchester.com
Click on the related links for more details.