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31 July: Sights of London

posted 2 Aug 2011, 11:50 by South Herts   [ updated 26 Aug 2011, 08:48 ]
Today’s ride was a chance to let someone else lead us for a change, by joining a Forty Plus CC ‘Diamond Jubilee’ ride in central London organised by Bernie of the Essex ‘A’ section.  Bernie used to be a London tour guide and had planned an interesting route around the major tourist sights of London.  Riders from all points of the compass were to meet on the Greenway overlooking the Olympic Stadium and all we had to do was to get there by 10 am.

I led a feeder ride from New Barnet at 8 am, which proved to be far too early for most of our regulars, although Neil enjoyed the ride in from Hatfield in brilliant early morning sunshine.  Our route from New Barnet took us to Bounds Green along a broad cycle route going through various parks and over a superb new bridge across the North Circ.  I then skirted around back streets to the River Lea at Warwick reservoir and followed the towpath right down to The Olympic Park.

  The View Tube is built from recycled shipping containers, including one stood on end to form a high tower, from which we had plenty of time to check on preparations for the Olympics.  The stadium was hard to miss, but we could also see the Aquatics Centre, with its temporary wings providing extra seating.  Anish Kapoor’s Orbit sculpture was nearly finished.  In the distance, we could just make out the Basketball Arena looking like a giant white pillow and the Velodrome with its Pringle roof.  All impressive structures, but all were completely different.  Perhaps the landscaping work will bring it together into more of a park than an industrial estate.

Others arrived by train, car and bike from all around London and the Home Counties and soon there were at least 35 cyclists gathered at the View Tube café.

The logistics of leading such a large group around London were not easy and Bernie split us into three groups with leaders and tail gunners, the idea being to keep in sight, but leave gaps between.   The first section along the Regents Canal was quite tricky as we ducked under low bridges on a narrow towpath with runners, pedestrians and other cyclists coming towards us.  Two of the first group soon fell off due to a cyclist speeding towards them, but escaped with minor cuts, bruises and a dented helmet.  At least they didn’t end up in the canal.

We left the canal at The Angel and soon after Mount Pleasant stopped briefly at 35 Doughty Street, where the Forty Plus CC was founded 60 years ago.  Our next detour was a circuit of Regents Park Outer Circle, with its expensive mansions, mosque and zoo.  By this time we were getting hungry and headed for the Albion Gate into Hyde Park, crossed the Serpentine Bridge and stopped near the Diana Fountain for our picnic.

Tower Bridge
We were then ready to tackle the tourist sights of Central London.  We crossed Hyde Park Corner and passed Buckingham Palace, then cycled down a traffic-free Mall and beside Horseguards Parade, where the trials for the Beach Volleyball had just been held.  Passing Central Hall and Westminster Abbey, we headed across Lambeth Bridge, along the South Bank near the London Eye and over Blackfriars Bridge.  We passed the Bank of England and crossed back over London Bridge and back again over Tower Bridge.  After looping around the Tower of London we walked our bikes along the river to St Katherine Docks, then mounted up to tackle the hellish cobbled streets of Wapping.   Then we joined CS3 (Cycling Superhighway) and it was a relief to stop briefly while the Triathlon went past on the Limehouse Link.  Before we knew it, Bernie had led us through Poplar and Canning Town alive and we were back on the Greenway, and heading for the View Tube, to finish the 30-mile circuit.

 View map full screen

Many thanks to Bernie for organising such an interesting ride.