General Category > LEL 2022

Getting to Debden - what advice to give to overseas entrants?

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On the LEL Facebook page there's a slow trickle of questions from overseas riders about the best way to get from Heathrow / Central London to Debden.
I've stuck my oar in a couple of times (as has Helly) but it's a while since I've ridden in London and even longer since I lived in the Great Wen.

What to say to these people?
They may well be not used to riding on the left; they might be jet-lagged; they may have camping equipment or other luggage.
London is not an easy place to navigate if you're not used to it, and I used to find the traffic (and other cyclists) unforgiving of hesitation & uncertainty.

Various suggestions have included:
Train to Paddington and ride from there (see above)
Train to Paddington and ride along towpaths (I'm not sure I'd suggest the badlands of the River Lea to the unwary)
Train to Paddington, Circle Line to Liverpool Street and Overground to Chingford - short ride to Debden
Illegally taking your bike on the deep tube all the way to Epping (Ha!)
Arriving a day early and going outside the M25 (my favourite)
The campsite has a minibus & trailer for those who are camping (dunno if this is correct)

Am I likely to be overstating the issues of London cycling for the unwary in any replies I make?

I would prefer the Train/ Circle/ Overground if I was flying in from overseas, despite the numerous transfers, from amongst the public transport options. It depends if my luggage could easily be carried on the bike, which suggests a short-haul flight.

I might opt for a taxi all the way, if I had problems comfortably carrying everything on the bike. A transfer doesn’t cost a huge amount compared to long-haul flights.

Neil C:
I think you are wise to be wary of giving advice without knowing more about their experience.

I've lived in the London suburbs all my life but wouldn't want to be cycling through the centre in the Friday evening rush hour, with lots of luggage, not exactly sure where I was going.

The minibus and trailer is run by the wife of the caretaker of Davenant School.

Riding out of an airport or through heavy traffic when jet-lagged is no fun, particularly when riding on the wrong side and/or trying to understand foreign language signage e.g. Thai and Greek lettering is difficult for me to recognise. I do my best to avoid repeating those circumstances.

Lightning Phil:
I provided a route from Luton Airport to Debden in 2017.  A quiet one through the lanes.  Think I split it in two, with a hotel stop near Waltham Cross.  A few riders took that option.   I will still have the GPX track from Luton on my PC but I haven’t been on FB for 4 years.

Stansted Airport is also an option for some, with either a 30 min taxi, 2 hour ride through lanes, or train part way then ride a shortish distance.

If a rider isn’t fixed on staying in central London, then those airports may be alternate options for them. There’s still trains from them into London if they are.  Luton airport parkway will land them into St Pancras.   Stansted they might need a short ride to a station to get a local train.  That’ll drop them into Liverpool Street.


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