Saturday 12th August – London Ride 2017 – *Two* Olympic Velodromes

Ian M will be leading this ride and writes (with photos from the recce last Saturday):

Everyone is very welcome on this ride which will take us from Euston Station to the 2012 Velodrome in the Olympic Park at Stratford, then on to the Herne Hill Velodrome, the last site still standing from the 1948 Olympics, and back to Euston.  In between, we will see much of “hidden London”.  I am very grateful to Brian who came with me on the recce for this ride last Saturday.  We checked the route thoroughly, paying particular attention to junctions, to the suitability of river-side and canal-side paths for a group, and to the cycle super-highway network.  More importantly, we checked the proposed lunch stop.  Even more importantly, we sampled several pubs before deciding on the afternoon refreshment stop – it was a hard job but someone had to do it!
The route is 29 miles long of which
  • River-side & canal-side paths = 10 miles
  • Parks & cemeteries = 6 miles
  • Cycle super-highway = 2 miles (1 mile blue paint, 1 mile fully segregated)
  • Quiet streets (defined by Transport for London – TfL) = 7 miles
  • Roads with traffic = 4 miles.
We will leave Euston Station (meeting outside on the picnic benches in front of the cafés) at 10.00 a.m.  (Trains departing from Northampton at 0825 and 0850 are very suitable and you can carry any type of bicycle.)   Rather than give distances in miles, the following description of the ride gives distance length in time, and allows for photograph stops.

We’ll take about 1 h 10 m to get to the 2012 Olympic Velodrome (now named the Lea Valley Velopark), via the Regent Canal and Victoria Park, and with a good view of the Olympic Stadium, now the London Stadium.

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View of the Olympic (London) Stadium. The building work appears to be running late.

Entry to the velodrome is free, there is bike parking inside next to the reception desk and there are toilets and a café on the viewing level.  We can spend upto twenty minutes having a look inside.

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Brian outside the Velodrome

We’ll circumnavigate the outside of the Velodrome and return to the London Stadium.  There we will join the path alongside the River Lea and then the towpath alongside Limehouse Cut, the oldest canal in London (1766), taking us to the western side of the Isle of Dogs  where we’ll follow the Thames Path.
We’ll then find a single-track path lined with countryside bushes which emerges above Mudchute Farm, a large urban farm with educational aims where we’ll have lunch.  Olympic Velodrome to Mudchute Farm will take about 1 h 20 m.  The Farm has a kitchen with a range of food from coffee & cake to daily specials.  The prices are good value and the profits are going to a good cause.  Bikes can be taken to the tables.
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Mudchute Kitchen

It’s a stone’s throw to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel (which we’ll walk – there are lifts at each end), emerging at the Cutty Sark.  We’ll cycle through Deptford and behind New Cross, with the only climb of the day, to Nunhead Cemetery.  Allowing for photos in Greenwich, that’s about 1 hour.
We’ll enter the Cemetery through the North Gate, follow the looping East Path, and exit via the South Gate.  The path surface is a little like the Brampton Valley Way.  There aren’t any famous Victorians buried here really – but it’s such a different environment in which to cycle.
Stuart Road with its allotments, which links Nunhead Cemetery to Peckham Rye Park, is where we’ll find The Ivy House, London’s first community-owned pub.  Orignally a Truman’s house, it was owned and neglected for decades by the Enterprise chain.  They tried to sell it four years ago for the development of apartments.  The local community had it declared a listed building and raised enough money to buy it.  They have thoroughly cleaned it with the bonus, as far as we could tell, that having had no money spent on it by the previous owners, the original fixtures and fittings are in place.  And the pub has bike stands on the street outside.  We enjoyed a glass of very local beer: Peckham Pale!
We’ll then pedal on through Dulwich Park and into a suburban street behind which lies Herne Hill Velodrome.  Brian and I watched some local amateur club racing; I can’t guarentee that we’ll see racing this Saturday but it will be busy!  There’s a good café and modern toilets.  From leaving Nunhead Cemetery to leaving the Velodrome took us two hours (but we had to investigate more than one pub as well as watch the racing!).  The modern grandstand is supported by the pillars of the Victorian grandstand!
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Victorian support for the modern grandstand

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Track racing at Herne Hill last Saturday

We’ll go half-way down Denmark Hill (busy but we’ll use the bus lane) before turning into quiet residential streets to reach the Oval cricket ground.  Then it’s onto a very impressive stretch of infrastructure, a new cycle super-highway giving cyclists separation from and priority over motor traffic, under Vauxhall Station and over Vauxhall Bridge.  Then we turn east along the next super-highway (blue paint at this point) past Tate Britain and up to the Houses of Parliament.  After navigating Parliament  Square, we’re on the separated cycle lane along the Embankment, pulling off to cycle under the Savoy Hotel to the spot where Bob Dylan recorded probably the first pop video – for “Subterranean Homesick Blues”.
From the Savoy Steps we’ll walk over the Strand and cycle up Bow Street, past the Royal Opera House, and Drury Lane (both busy with pedestrians).  We’ll go around the British Museum and through parts of London University (the School of Oriental & African Studies and the Institute of Education) to find ourselves at Euston Station – and possibly a well-deserved pint at the Bree Louise.  From Herne Hill Velodrome to Euston will take us a little under an hour, with time allowed for photographs.
We’ll be back at Euston before 6.00 p.m.
If you would like to come on the ride, then just turn up!  If you would like to let me know you’re coming, then send me an e-mail to ianmac63@icloud.com or text 07960302095.  That will mean I won’t leave without you.  But it’s not necesary – the velodrome cafés are large, and the staff at Mudchute Farm and The Ivy House, when we enquired, will be very happy to see us without any definite booking of numbers.
The IAAF World Athletics Championships at the London Stadium won’t affect any of our route in the Olympic Park.  I subsribe to TfL’s weekly e-mail about weekend road closures and will use this to check all the other areas.
I’m really looking forward to seeing you – and am hoping to post a .gpx file of the route in the next couple of days onto our RideWithGPS page.
Any questions?  Phone me on 07960302095.  That’s also my contact number on the day.

Ride Report – Annual London Ride – Saturday 27th September

Wow! What can I say and keep this brief?

Nine of us met at Euston at 10.00 a.m. for a brilliant day led by Alex and Miriam.

Starting to gather at Euston

Starting to gather at Euston

We went through the City and stopped at some unusual sights. Bow Bells aren’t in the East End; they’re in the centre of the Cordwainers Ward. Cordwainers = Shoemakers – a Northampton connection. And John Smith, who married Pocohontas, was a shoemaker!

At St Mary-le-Bow

At St Mary-le-Bow

We crossed over Southwark Bridge to look at the Cross Bones Cemetery and the Redcross Gardens. (Maybe my non-bike-related favourite for being so surprising! And I now know the meaning of “Winchester geese”.)

Outside Cross Bones Cemetery where prostitutes licensed by the Bishop of Winchester were buried

Outside Cross Bones Cemetery where prostitutes licensed by the Bishop of Winchester were buried

Redcross Garden, an oasis near The Shard

Redcross Garden, an oasis near The Shard

We enjoyed a pint in The George Inn and fish & chips in Long Lane. We went to Alaska and saw a Banksy. We saw street markets and the river in Bermondsey; and then a statue of Tsar Peter the Great in Deptford. We passed (we didn’t use) the worst cycle lane in Britain to get to the Cutty Sark and the Greenwich Foot Tunnel (we’d been invited into the original Brunel tunnel), sampling the products of the Meantime brewery on the way.

A cycle lane?  Really??

A cycle lane? Really??

North of the river again, we paused to admire Millwall Dock (not many people can say that) and reached the Ragged School in Mile End. And then my cycle-related favourite: the Bamboo Bicycle Club in Stratford where we had the opportunity to ride bamboo bikes.

The Bamboo Cycle Club

The Bamboo Bicycle Club

We rode down Columbia Street, famous for its flower market and paused outside Lululemon who sponsored a team in this year’s Tour of Britain Women’s Race. We enjoyed another pint in The Albion in Islington before stopping at The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Mural in Copenhagen Street.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs Mural

The Tolpuddle Martyrs Mural

And we were back at Euston before 6.00 p.m. as promised so that everyone could catch their trains.

All the photographs I took are here on Flickr.

And … above all … huge thanks to Alex and Miriam who led us well, kept us informed and entertained, and left us wanting more!