Chris Ward did it - and it's a lot better than you think!

As with all the best, mad ideas, this one started while on strong coffee in a great coffee shop. “I’m bored of the Surrey Hills, I’m bored of London – Brighton – London, I’m bored of just going out and back – where else can we cycle…?”

What about round the M25?

Ha-ha - how far is that then?

231km, plus another 42 km out and back to the start line! A 273 km day!

Surely, it’s going to be full of traffic lights, duel carriageways and horrible towns?

Might be – lets just do it and see…

And here is where I have to sing the praises of Strava – being able to ‘create the route’ http://bit.ly/1siAAjk that includes hills and the most popular local cycling routes, means we ended up with a route right round London, on the nearest roads to the M25 and more often than not were cycling along fairly quiet roads, through little villages and amazing scenery, both sides of the road. With only the ever present distance hum of the M25 traffic and the regular view of its overhead bright blue road signs, as a reminder of our mad challenge.

Me https://www.facebook.com/chrisjward, Pete (co-founder of the excellent Milltag Cycle Clothing) and Tim, set off from my west London home around 7.30am and headed for the nearest spot outside the M25 – the start line became self nominated as Iver in Buckinghamshire.

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We headed anti-clockwise  - no real reason  - it just felt right! Through the reservoirs around Staines, via Cobham and up the backside of Box Hill – the highest point of the ride. Through the nice lanes and hills of Oxted and Westerham, we then turned north into the wind and up to the Dartford Tunnel.

If you haven’t been through the tunnel, under the Thames before, it’s a fun little experience. You find the ‘bike stop’ and use the provided phone, to call for a truck to come and carry you under the river. It took 5 minutes for a very friendly driver to help us, and a young kid on his daily commute to work at Decathlon, just outside Bluewater, through the tunnel and drop us straight into the traffic chaos that Bluewater has no doubt been creating since its opening.

We didn’t hold up much hope for a good lunch but out of the desert of car after car, appeared a real old fashioned 50’s garden centre – a full English, 2 omelettes and a load of cake later, we were back on the bike and heading through the surprisingly quiet and green lanes of Essex.

Little known fact, we actually cycled round North Ockendon – which is technically the only town outside the M25 which is actually inside Greater London. We cycled round the whole of Greater London, something M25 drivers cant claim to do!

How many counties did we ride through altogether?

5 – Surrey, Kent, Buckinghamshire, Essex and Hertfordshire.

Through Potters Bar and Watford was more the environment everyone would expect the whole ride to be – the traffic, lights and duel carriageways. But luckily, short lived, as we hit the A412, which despite its name, was quiet, countrified, traffic light free and we flew down through Denham and to the finish line – back at Iver!

This was a great day, a great route. Maybe, partly because our expectations had been low. We didn’t push it but still  easily managed a respectable 28.2kph for the 9 hours 41 minutes that the whole 273km took.

All three Garmin’s predictably gave different climbing results, from my 2,097m to Pete’s 2,350m?!

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Conclusion. This is a great ride. Please download on Strava and give it a go. If you spent a little more time creating the route, than the 5 minutes I did, you  could probably cycle almost the whole route without traffic.

Also, the route would make an iconic spring classic and/or sportive for London. The only difference being you might need to go out for a detour using the Gravesend – Tillbury ferry – or close the tunnel for a few hours – this ride would be so iconic for London, surely it would be worth it!

I wish I could erase my memory and do it again, it’s that good. Might have to go clockwise round before this summers out!

PS – even after looking this up I still not know if we went ‘round’ or ‘around’ the M25?

PPS  Sunday wasn’t spent recovering but leading out my 10 year old daughter, Audrey on her longest ride to date – 33 miles – down the M3 to Grandma’s – I loved the M3 just as much as the M25!

PPPS if you have any questions please get me here https://www.facebook.com/chrisjward  Please note Strava created a few little anomalies on the route which sends it 200m up and back down side roads a few times - I noted them in advance so we carried on past them. I'm always up for mad ideas - cycled Ventoux 6 times in a day, whole Tour de France route with Tour de Force etc - so please join me on Facebook for idea sharing!

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Chris Ward was brought up with the dodgy sight of his father appearing in their lounge every Sunday lunchtime in the brightest red & yellow wool of FCCC (Farnborough & Camberley Cycling Club). It was the spindle thin bright white legs though that put him off cycling until he was 40.

Since then, in a bid to play catch up he has cycled up and down Ventoux 6 times in a day, cycled the whole Le Tour route with Tour de Force, managed C2C2C in a day, ridden around the M25, competed in the Trans Alp, Trans Rockies and Cape Epic Mountain Bike Races and finally in 2015 & 2016, qualified in St Tropez and Albi and competed for GB in the UCI Amateur World Championships.

When he's not cycling he's hanging out in coffee shops, writing books and trying to engage the world in charitable campaigns.




Al__S [1304 posts] 3 years ago

Actually sounds fun! And obviously lots of alternative start points.


And love the father & daughter picture!

NOC40 [37 posts] 3 years ago

of course you go anticlockwise: left turns are easier than right turns  1

a great read and an inspiring ride!

tritecommentbot [2266 posts] 3 years ago

Nice one guys! 

ped [321 posts] 3 years ago

Chapeau! Microadventures FTW.

iUpham [177 posts] 3 years ago

Good Stuff! Congrats and thank you for the enjoyable 5 min read with my evening tea.

wycombewheeler [1381 posts] 3 years ago

DUEL carriageways? For jousting maybe? Interesting ride though. London revolution sportive does similar but they use tower bridge. I guess the guy in the truck might struggle with the numbers.

vonhelmet [1657 posts] 3 years ago

I did the same round the m60 round Manchester a couple of years ago. It came out at a metric century. I live a few miles outside the m60, near Bolton. My rule was to go round Manchester without crossing the m60, which made for some slightly odd bits of routing. I went clockwise, so the scenery got nicer as I went!

EddyBerckx [769 posts] 3 years ago

Good stuff and an enjoyable read! 

Nick0 [189 posts] 3 years ago

Brilliant. Best thing I've read in months. Thanks for sharing the route too  1

jiberjaber [33 posts] 3 years ago

Nice write up.  Coincidently I am planning a similar jaunt (though based on an Essex start/finish).   Here is another similar route worth a look at too..  https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=96446.0

(BTW, I think you might mean Thurrock rather than Bluewater for the commuter going to Decathlon, unless he was heading home through the tunnel of course  1 )

Ramz [74 posts] 3 years ago

I'm doing this on the coming bank holiday weekend, but I've plotted a route that keeps entirely outside of the M25 (and uses Gravesend-Tilbury ferry). I think if you take roads that pop inside the M25 at various points you can't claim to have gone 'around' the M25. (Incidentally, if you went 'round' the M25, you would be on the actual motorway, which is not legal since it officially opened).

vinner [2 posts] 3 years ago

Hey Ramz, good luck - you had the same idea as me, to stay entirely outside the M25. I did it last year on the hottest day of the year. Check out the route here:

Buffalo Girls go round the outside

Again, good luck. Hope it's not too hot.



Canyonaro [24 posts] 3 years ago

The thing about doing it inside is its not just easier to plan but you can plan some really nice lanes as well. Ie in Surrey if your outside the M25 your only option is the A25, which I prefer to avoid!


Instead you can take ridge rd and other lanes and avoid significant stretches on major A roads.



Moving time: 9:02, done clockwise yesterday. Strong southerly made the eastern drag to the Dartford crossing tough!

Fair effort on the 180mi on a 30+ deg day!


sybaric [1 post] 2 years ago

I did this around the outside of the M60 in Manchester, it was about 65 miles, had to make some big detours to get over a couple of the canals, great fun cheeky