(It was Movember)
On a late November morning in 2013 I set out on a ride I’d been plotting for a couple of weeks. I was after something a bit different to do given the winter weather making riding in the countryside less enjoyable than it can be.
I settled on trying to ride to all of the Football League grounds in London and set off at 7am from Putney on a Saturday morning with a route in mind. I planned to ride clockwise around London, ticking off 13 football stadia as well as Lord’s, and skipping only Barnet FC which would have added a pretty hefty detour on the route.
I had banked on being able to ride at decent speed around town and thought the 85 mile route should take around 5-6 hours and see me back on the sofa in time for Soccer Saturday and the 3pm kick offs. It ended up taking just over 9 hours and was dark at both the start and finish. Things like the Woolwich Ferry aren’t (or at least weren’t) well catered for by Strava Routes.
The order of grounds visited was as follows:
- Chelsea, Stamford Bridge
- Fulham, Craven Cottage
- Brentford, Griffin Park
- QPR, Loftus Road
- Arsenal, Emirates Stadium
- Spurs, White Hart Lane
- Leyton Orient, Brisbane Road
- West Ham, Upton Park
- Dagenham & Redbridge, Victoria Road
- Charlton Athletic, The Valley
- Millwall, The New Den
- Crystal Palace, Selhurst Park
- AFC Wimbledon, Kingsmeadow
The main things I took away from the ride were
- Football grounds seem to be in all of the worst places in London, Tottenham in particular was an eye opener
- There’s no bridge or tunnel under the Thames near City airport as I assumed there would be. Whilst free, the Woolwich ferry isn’t much fun on a bike on a frozen winter morning as you stand around for half an hour in the cold with the scant reward at the other side of an industrial park in Charlton
- There were zero interesting landmarks on the route
- Dagenham is a bloody long way east of everything else, adding over 14 miles and an hour to the ride time
All that said though, it was fun to see a load of new parts of the city and cover some decent mileage at the same time. By the time I made it to Charlton there were a lot of match day fans around the grounds with home games which added a bit of atmosphere to proceedings when morale wasn’t necessarily that high.
There’s probably worse ways of spending a day cycling round London, just don’t get your hopes up about finding a nice cycling cafe in Tottenham, or Millwall.
It’s on Strava here: https://www.strava.com/activities/97855149/overview