With just a couple weeks to go before RideLondon Essex 100 and one 7 hour ride on my Beyond CC training plan, cycling from London to Whitstable seemed like the ideal route.
We spent some time checking out routes and settled on the Greenwich to Whitstable cycling route from Dirty Wknd – the first club I ever joined. Jade put in most of the work, double checking the route on Google street view and looking for bike paths which is super important when you’re riding an unknown route.
Clip in for a long day in the saddle…
Greenwich, London to Whitstable Cycling Route
A slightly earlier start than usual as we needed to make progress in good time in order to get to Whitstable, eat, refresh ourselves and then make our way back to London. So I spent some time in the days before planning the best way to get to Greenwich with my bike.
I took the tube from Essex to Leyton, then rode ~2km to Stratford to get the jubilee line to Canning Town. From there, it was a short 5 minute ride to East India Station to meet Jade (@sci.clist), then towards Greenwich Foot Tunnel to meet Melania.
Although it was a super early start, I made sure to have breakfast (my current favourite being weetabix) and packed plenty of snacks for the route.
We didn’t “plan” any stops as we wanted to see how self sufficient we could be, in practice for RideLondon Essex. We did however know there were options for stopping in Aylesford – our half way point – and that worked out well as we needed to top up our water bottles.
The Village Pantry, Aylesford
As mentioned, we didn’t make any formal plans to stop but with it being such a hot day and needing to top up our water bottles, we decided stopping in Aylesford would be a good idea.
Jade suggested The Village Pantry and they have a great garden out back – access is via the cafe which you can walk your bike through. We wanted the stop to be short and sweet as we learnt from previous long rides that long stops don’t do us much good.
So it was an iced oat milk coffee (which tasted sooooo good) along with a salted caramel brownie, water bottle refills and a loo stop before we were back on the road for the second half of our ride to Whitstable, our final destination.
The Old Neptune, Whitstable
We made it to the Old Neptune – our endpoint in Whitstable – just before 5pm and with minutes to order food before the kitchen shut. The weather was stunning that day so the seating on the beach was full but we managed to find enough space for us and our bikes.
I ordered the fish and chips, along with soda water and lime, which we enjoyed in the sunshine. It was nice to know we could eat what we want and not have to worry about getting on the bike to ride home. We enjoyed a couple hours on the beach before making our way to the train station to start our return journey to London…
Total Distance: ~116km (including riding from my house to Loughton tube station and then switching tubes between Leyton and Stratford)
Returning To London Via Train
Well, I’m pretty sure if you’re speedier than us (and leave earlier than us), cycling back to London from Whitstable is feasible. However, for us, we only needed to do the one way journey.
I did actually look into booking a hotel for the evening but nothing was available and to be honest, it would have meant having to carry extra stuff on the bike. If you do fancy stopping over though, I’ve been recommended the Whitstable Fisherman’s Huts.
So, train back to London it was and my number one tip is to buy your ticket in advance. You have 3 options for where to go – London Bridge, London Victoria, London St Pancras or Stratford International (on the way to St Pancras).
Advance ticket prices (up to the day before) were around £13-15 for a single, versus the ~£28 we paid for the same ticket (off peak), buying it on the day.
The station was so busy I checked in with South Eastern Railway on Twitter about bikes and they informed me that they don’t do bike reservations on their services.
I asked if there was a specific carriage for bikes and they said “…outside the accessible toilets, there are flip-down seats allowing space for bikes. However, wheelchair users have priority in this area and you will need to move if someone requires the space”.
That evening, I got the Victoria Train, then hopped on the District Line to Mile End and got picked up, but in hindsight, I would’ve paid a few extra quid for the quick train to Stratford.
Long Ride Lessons
For once, I actually followed all my own advice and long ride lessons learnt from my ride to Windsor.
- READ MORE: Riding London to Windsor
Here are some extra takeaways from the day:
My musette has taken the top spot as my most useful piece of kit on long rides – I got this one. I don’t even notice that I’m wearing it, and should I empty it, it’s packable and can be attached to the bike.
Have bike lights, even when you think you don’t need them. I never ride when it’s dark, but on long rides, you might be making a return trip and need lights. I found my front light, but couldn’t find my back light so I just got this one ready for RideLondon. I think I’m gonna use it even in daylight hours for the event.
Don’t forget your sunscreen – even if it’s cloudy. Here are the best sunscreen for cycling recommended by cyclists. I’ve also been testing out Pelotan which I’ve had stashed away since the Winter, and I love the smell of it.
This London to Whitstable cycling route was approximately the same elevation as RideLondon Essex 100, but around 55km less. So it was a great ride to complete as my final long ride before event day. There are gonna be no hills in RideLondon Essex like this route, so it’s a great confidence boost.
- READ MORE: How To Tackle Hills In Cycling
This ride honestly felt like a mini vacation… the weather was perfect, the food was great and the company was great. It made me wanna plan some bikepacking adventures for the Summer – like London to Paris – and have some time to relax as well as ride.
Have you got a London to Whitstable cycling route or tips you recommend?!