What did you do today Dad?
Well, we were bored again, so thought we’d make Sunday interesting instead.
It was pouring with rain, so me (West Ham), Pete (Milltag & Man City), Tim (Bolton Wanderers) and Steve (South Africa??) decided to cycle around the busiest city in Europe and visit all of London’s finest football clubs.
How did it go?
Well, we ended up on the centre circle of Upton Park, meeting Alan Taylor – 2-goal hero of the 1975 FA Cup winning side and Phil Parkes – the world’s most expensive goalkeeper!?
Not a bad result for another mad idea.
I’ve been trying to think what to call these rides where we try and fill in the gaps between sportives, races and audax’s with something stupid. Apparently our M25 ride created much debate – were we idiots or idiots? I think ‘What Would John Noakes do?’ would probably sum up the inspiration behind these ‘mental recovery’ rides (Google him if under 40).
We met up at Wembley at 7.45am after a long drunken night watching the national team achieve the same as it always does, very little. I also spent four hours last night listening to Pete telling me that despite the fact the BBC website said it would rain most of the day – it wouldn’t – unfortunately they were right.
We headed south to QPR – what is happening to that club these days? On to Chelsea – we were made to feel unwelcome by the guard on the door (I’m saying nothing). Then onto Fulham – we’d all love to support Fulham – nice club, nice location, nice local pubs – but we don’t unfortunately. Then it was out West to Brentford – our first old-skool proper ground.
We thought it must be possible to get on one of these pitches so started to have a nose round but all were very closed up for the (rainy) summer.
Kingstonian, where AFC Wimbledon play is really unbelievably small – from Wembley to a park, with standing for a few thousand fans. Everyone should get to a league game there this season.
Across to Selhurst Park and luckily it did at least have the club café open. So sheltering from the rain we managed to 'down' the ‘traditional’ bacon sarnie and…flat white.
Further over East to the Valley. I think it used to be the biggest ground in England – it is still very impressive – hopefully their fans and the club can sort out their problems soon.
Then – Millwall. As a West Ham fan I’ve not been here for a while. it is an impressive small stadium – and looked like they were hiring it out for all sorts of members of the local community to use on a Sunday – thumbs up from us.
Do you know you can cycle through the Rotherhithe tunnel? No, nor did we – but Strava does – and again I have to praise the ‘create course’ function on it. We rode through the busiest parts of London – but would often find ourselves riding along cycle paths, through parks and even National Trust properties. It really is amazing that you can do this ride – and a lot of it was really enjoyable.
Next. The West Ham double – new Olympic Stadium – still feeling a little alien and then down Green Street to home – the club I’ve supported for 47 years. And, this is a club that has a hotel in the executive boxes! So a quick ‘ask’ at reception and we are literally whizzed down the tunnel and out on to the pitch – really – amazing hospitality.
They were hosting a stadium tour so FA Cup winner, Alan Taylor and Phil Parkes (once the Worlds most expensive goalkeeper) were present and more than happy to have photos. I’ve always wanted to get on the pitch at Upton Park – just ironic that I end up doing it wearing Lycra and cleats, than shorts and studs.
Out to Dagenham - such a contract to the Olympic Stadium – the difference in money available through the leagues is depressing really. It replicates society – the rich get richer - the poor get poorer. Not great.
On to Orient – and yes you can almost see the Olympic Stadium from there.
Then the two North London big boys, Arsenal and Tottenham with quick homage to Highbury – iconic facade still standing.
Then the very impressive Emirates, followed by the building site of White Hart Lane – as they start the process of turning it into their own impressive stadium.
One to go – Barnet, the highest point in north London, so a chapeaux to Pete and Steve who spent the day on their fixies. But – we couldn’t find the ground! It was getting late – we’d enjoyed this day far more than our expectations so we’d been taking our time, mobiles running out, Garmin’s running out – thought we’d be home by 4pm – managed to crawl in by 7pm!
A great day - now just can’t stop eating… A stop/start day takes a lot our of you.
If you fancy trying it the course is here - until the battery runs out! http://bit.ly/1UM0rH8
Apologies for 16 pics of the same four cyclists with a different background photoshopped on each
Chris Ward has raced, bike-packed, mountain-biked and written about cycling around the world.
He's been fortunate to have cycled to the Great Wall of China, Mount Everest, North Korea and Australia, mountain biked across the Rockies, Alps and South Africa and bike-packed across India, Bangladesh and Taiwan. He has also twice represented GB in the amateur world championships, became the oldest Briton to cycle up Mount Ventoux six times in a day, ridden almost every Grand tour climb and guided groups throughout Europe.
It was when he cycled the length of Greece and reached the Peloponnese, that he experienced his best ever time on a bike; endless glorious roads and the odd island-hop, to ancient cities, amphitheatres and a modern-day, tourist-free, holiday paradise. With his wife Helen he has set up Breakaway Greece, in order to share this cycling paradise and their simple approach to life, with others. www.breakawaygreece.com
When he's not cycling he's hanging out in coffee shops, writing books and trying to engage the world in charitable campaigns.