What can I say about the ride from home to Southend. On Google Maps it shows a distance of 34 miles, as the crow flies. Once it works out the route that changes to more like 81 miles depending on the way you go.
With the 1945 kick off as the last time I could get there, counting back and allowing for traffic, I set off at 1615.
Traffic was relatively light on the M20 considering the hour, but as I got nearer London it started to build. The swoop from M20 to M25 is quite a nice experience as long as there is clear road and Pepe managed it at the legal limit without any trauma. That’s when I was faced with a four lane wall of traffic all crawling along at walking pace.
Even filtering through between the outside two lanes I lost over 20 minutes getting from the M20/M25 junction to the tunnel itself. The last couple of miles had cars and trucks at a standstill, and it was the same for the tunnel itself. There was a brief respite from this when we started to move and achieved 40mph for a mile or so. TomTom wanted me to exit onto the A13, but the column of stationery traffic meant I went past to the next junction, the A127. This is the route straight into Southend some 23 miles away. And 23 miles of solid traffic, sometime stationery! How do people do this every day.
As we entered Southend the “miles to empty” showed 55 miles but the yellow fuel light had come on. Rather than mess about after the game I saw a Tesco off at the next roundabout and went in there to fill up. This tank had managed just under 45mpg. Gulp. It was 1823 when I came out and put the details into the MPGCalc app on my phone.
Traffic was still heavy as I went past the ground and was unable to turn right into the club’s car park that's next to their club shop. So I had a detour around the houses to get back with it on my left! In the end I found a Sainsbury’s with an ATM. Dinner could be paid for now.
All in all the journey inc petrol and ATM stop was 2h 35m. I had passed the entrance though after a mere 2h 20m.
Parking was easy enough. I had contacted the club in advance and they said the car-park was for season ticket holders only but bikes could be found space. The guy put me next to the club shop where there are cctv cameras. I locked everything away in the panniers and took TomTom with me! My helmet was locked on the back seat by cable.
The pictures were taken from the small area in the North Stand where they would let us sit. Nearly 200 made it, mostly from Oldham, some on the club’s official coaches and some by train. Only me by motorcycle. The rest of the stand was empty save for a few flags laid across the seats behind the goal.
In the end it was worth the trip for the 1-0 win for Oldham.
After the game I applauded the team and manager as they came to the supporters and then shot out to get togged up for home. It was quite cold and I wanted to get away as quickly as possible. It was just gone 2145 when I turned out of the car park onto the A127. Traffic as already at a standstill despite it being two lanes in either direction. The reason was the local authorities had decided to dig the road up. About 400 yards from the ground the road takes a left turn at a roundabout, then it's two lanes all the way to London….. So on the night that there were thousands of people coming out, they had coned off one lane!
It is sometimes hard to credit the joined up thinking that doesn’t take place sometimes. The cones and workforce weren’t there when I had gone the other way a few hours earlier.
Once clear of that and keeping to the legal limits I was at the M25 in 35 minutes and home at 2310 or 1h 25m door to door. It was cold and it took a while to warm up once I got to bed. At least I had Reggie lying next to me like a little heater for a while before he cleared off to bark at something through the window.
So some more miles under the belt and Pepe behaved like the perfect gentleman.