Annual London Ride – Saturday 12th August

A reminder about our annual London ride!
We will meet outside Euston Station at the picnic tables outside Café Rouge / Café Nero (a slight change from our spot in previous years closer to Melton Street) at 10 a.m. on Saturday 12th August.
This is a return to our usual ride around London.  Last year we rode to London but in previous years we did this:
  • 2015 included Karl Marx’s Grave in Highgate Cemetery, an ascent of Swains Lane, a Northampton connection at the Emirates Stadium, Burgess Park, the Imperial War Museum, the Oval, Battersea Park, Brompton Cemetery and Hyde Park.  Led by Ian M.
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With Herbert Chapman at The Emirates (2015)

 

  • 2014 included the Cross Bones Burial Ground, elevenses at The George Inn, a Banksy near the Alaska Factory, the Cutty Sark, the tunnel to the Isle of Dogs, the Bamboo Bicycle Club, Victoria Park, and Columbia Road Flower Market.  Led by Alex & Miriam.

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Elevenses at The George, Southwark (2014)

  • 2013 took us around Regent’s Park, house façades with no houses behind them in Bayswater, over the Serpentine, across Hyde Park Corner, viewing graffiti under Waterloo Station, lunch on the South Bank, over Tower Bridge, the Cable Street Mural, alongside an ornamental canal, and Postman’s Park.  Led by Iain D.
I hope that gives you a flavour of what you might expect.  The route isn’t revealed until we actually ride!  But there has been a request for a visit to the Olympic Park; may include an unusual Blue Plaque; and could well involve a ride along a Cycle Superhighway.  Two of us will ride a recce of the route one week earlier to get a feel for the traffic flows on an August Saturday – and to be clear where we’re going!
The ride is open to everyone on any sort of bike.
I’m grateful to Alex for reminding me about planned engineering works on August weekends.  Fortunately, Saturday 12th August is free of these and there are normal train services from Northampton to Euston (other Northamptonshire stations are available).  There is no charge for taking full-size bikes on London Midland trains.  You do *not* require a reservation.  All of Saturday is off-peak and so there are no restrictions on bikes on any trains.  (Wellingborough to St Pancras on East Midlands Trains are a different matter.)
From Northampton the 0825 and 0850 trains will get you to Euston before 1000.  If you are thinking of buying the cheapest Advance Non-flexible tickets over the web for particular trains, presently on sale at £7.50 each way (£4.95 with railcard), experience suggests that you do not select your return leg train before 1800.  Otherwise, an Off-Peak Return – which can be bought on the day and used on any train – is £27.80 (£18.35 with railcard).  That will allow you to enjoy a pint in the Bree Louise at the end of the ride (with a price reduction if you have a Camra membership card with you).
Save the date – Saturday 12th August – for what is always an enjoyable day out!

Ride *to* London – a Report

James, one of our Ride Leaders, reports on the CTC Northampton ride *to* London on 7th August 2016, planned and led by Ian Macsporran (group Treasurer and your regular correspondent). 

Northampton Station

Northampton Station

With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, seven of us met 
outside Northampton Railway Station on a veritable assortment of bikes, 
e.g. tourers, Italian fixies, hybrids and trusty racers. On this 
occasion, however, we weren’t there to board any of London Midland’s 
delightful carriages down to Euston but to ride there instead. Our goal 
was to follow a route Ian had planned with his usual thoughtful 
meticulousness insofar as it incorporated as many ‘bike-friendly’ 
stretches of road as possible. Typically, he was also kind enough to 
provide a very helpful information sheet for members who like to ride a 
little quicker than others. This highlighted regrouping points, lunch 
stops and junctions where the traffic could get hairy. Unfortunately, 
for anyone (me) who’d left their reading glasses at home, Ian’s careful 
handiwork was reduced to a blur and ensured that stopping at the correct 
places was largely due to guesswork and a well-known online mapping service.

Setting out via the B526 towards Newport Pagnell it soon became clear 
that – aside from some surprisingly gusty blasts of wind – the day was 
going to provide us with something akin to perfect cycling conditions. 
The sun was out, the thermometer was rising and, with a few exceptions, 
even the drivers seemed happy to share the roads with us. After Newport 
Pagnell and the outer reaches of Bedfordshire our route became more 
rural as we passed through Sharpenhoe, Barton-le-Clay, Hexton, etc., 
climbed a few hills and reassembled for lunch at The Lilley Arms in, 
err, Lilley. The food was wonderful, as was the service and the 
plentiful supply of free water. The only downside being the sad news 
that a fellow cyclist had been taken seriously ill somewhere along our 
route.

En-Route in Hertfordshire

En-Route in Hertfordshire

Post-lunch riding began with a suitably gentle five mile(ish) descent to 
Whitwell; a village it is easy to assume must have an exceptionally poor 
water drainage system until you’re told that it’s actually the 
watercress capital of the universe and is, in fact, meant to look like 
that. Such fascinations, however, were quickly forgotten thanks to the 
incline that greeted us as we took a right turn out of the village 
centre. Still, we continued to make good progress as we headed on out 
through Blackmore, Wheathampstead and Sandridge before finally reaching 
a cycle path that took us to our afternoon tea break: South Mimms 
Services.

Cycle Sign for MWSA

Yes, it’s real

In terms of atmosphere, this particular stop was a million 
miles away from your usual cyclist’s café. However, we were thirsty, 
hungry and, to be fair, it did have a Waitrose. Aside from the fruit 
machines, additional entertainment was provided in the form of Ian and 
his latex gloves as he sought to locate and repair a puncture with a 
dexterity and precision more commonly associated with world-class 
cardiac surgeons.

Cyclists at South Mimms Motorway Services

Cyclists at South Mimms Motorway Services – Not a Usual Sight

The final stage of our jaunt was perhaps the most demanding insofar as 
we were soon in Barnet and the outskirts of London. Cycling through 
London is always an adventure – even on a late Sunday afternoon. 
However, we made good use of the bus lanes and Ian was always keen to 
make sure that as a group we never became too spread out. Highgate, 
Gospel Oak and Camden all passed in a haze of traffic and frazzled 
pedestrians before we finally crossed Hampstead Road and arrived at our 
destination: hot, but happy, and, for those of us who’d not bothered 
with factor 50, some tan lines that were to look quite peculiar on 
Monday morning.

Euston Station

End of the Road

I’ve been to London many times by train, car, coach, etc., but can 
easily say that this was the most interesting and fun way that I’ve ever 
travelled there. It was just a shame that we didn’t carry on down to 
Brighton! Many thanks to Ian for organising the trip and making the day 
such an enjoyable one.

Note: this report has been edited slightly from the original for legal and other reasons.

Cycle4Cynthia – Sunday 21st September

We’re not planning our own ride this weekend as many members will be taking part in the annual Cycle4Cynthia Ride.  This year’s event starts at Lamport Hall and you can read all about registration and sponsorship here.

Our programme for October and November has been finalised!  If you’d like a copy in advance of publication on our website, e-mail iain.d@ctc-northampton.org.uk.

Our last ride in September is our annual “London Special” on Saturday 27th September.  Led by Alex this year, we’ll be starting at 9.55 a.m. for 10.00 a.m. from Euston Station.  We’ll be back at Euston for 6.00 p.m. approximately (and will pass King’s Cross and St Pancras on the way).  So … those are the timings; we’re promised “sub-zero” “unique” and “guarantee”; it’s going to be interesting.  If you are thinking of coming, Alex would be please to hear from you so he can gauge numbers, although everyone is, of course, welcome to just turn up on the day.  Alex is on 07710 911158.

A few more London ride details next week!

Ride Report – London Ride – Saturday 1st June

 

Miriam took part in this ride and writes:

Six (three Bromptons) of us gathered at Euston on Saturday 1st, sightly cool for June, and a minor route amendment was discussed to cater for closure of the Mall and Coronation anniversary celebrations around Buckingham Palace.

We rode, the aroma of roasting coffee in the street, to look at the Black Cat cigarette factory building, a wonderful art deco structure modelled on an Egyptian temple with two giant effigies of black cats and a frieze of cats faces!

Black Cat cigarette factory

Black Cat cigarette factory

The ride took us around the edge of Regents Park to see fake house facades near Bayswater, above an old cut and fill tube line, and then on to the Necropolis Railway which took coffins and mourners to Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey at a time when London cemeteries were in danger of overflowing.

Facade

Facade

Reality

Reality

The Waterloo terminus of the Necropolis Railway

The Waterloo terminus of the Necropolis Railway

Our route took us under the railway lines at Leake Street to see several hundred square yards of very artistic graffiti before an al fresco lunch overlooking the Thames at Tate Modern.

Lunchtime view

Lunchtime view

We wove through busy Borough Market, down Tooley Street and over Tower Bridge to Wapping, the Ornamental Canal an oasis in the busy city, and to see the striking gable end mural celebrating the ugly Battle of Cable Street, the fight against fascism in England.

Pedalling over Tower Bridge

Tony pedalling over Tower Bridge

David at the Tower

David at the Tower

Pedalling alongside the Ornamental Canal

Pedalling alongside the Ornamental Canal

Miriam and Alex at the Cable Street Mural

Miriam and Alex at the Cable Street Mural

We cycled through the world of banking and finance – Leadenhall Street, Paternoster Square and past St Paul’s – to see the Old Bailey and on to Postman’s Park to admire George Frederic Watts’ “Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice” – a memorial to ordinary people who had died saving the lives of others.

At the entrance to the Old Bailey

At the entrance to the Old Bailey

In Postmans' Park

In Postman’s Park

Having viewed the graves of many notable Nonconformists (including Daniel Defoe and William Blake) at Bunhill Fields we enjoyed welcome refreshments at the cycling cafe, ‘Look Mum No Hands!’. After Clerkenwell Green, we cycled past the large urban children’s park at Coram’s Fields (which adults are only permitted to enter if accompanied by a child) and Tavistock Square with its Mahatma Ghandi statue and cherry tree in memory of Hiroshima victims before returning to Euston.

John Bunyan's grave in Bunhill Fields

John Bunyan’s grave in Bunhill Fields

David outside LMNH

David outside LMNH

LMNH interior

LMNH interior

Most roads in London are flat and its possible to find quiet roads to avoid the traffic. The research undertaken by Iain and Ian (complete with handouts) and their route planning was exemplary; the day went smoothly as a result. Very enjoyable!

Photos by David

A London Ride – Saturday 1st June

Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, will be leading this (train-assisted) ride and writes with these joining instructions (and hints & tips):

Start Point: Zebra Crossing, Melton St, London NW1 2EB (near the Taxi entrance to Euston Station)

Start Time: 9.55 a.m.

For those of you coming through Euston station, find the station concourse and then, with the platforms behind you and the sunlight streaming in the windows ahead, make your way to the West (right side) Exit by the ticket office, past the “Lift to Underground” and “Lift to Taxis” signs. Once out of the building, keep going, down a few steps to the zebra crossing. If you haven’t seen anyone you recognise by then, check your watch and decide whether to wait there, retire for a coffee in the station, or ring the ride leader to see where everyone’s got to.

Those of you not coming through Euston Station can probably work out where we’ll be from the information above. If not, feel free to email me for directions.

We’ll be taking a combination of quiet streets, quiet main roads (and I do mean quiet), tourist routes, park paths, cycle lanes and blue paint to make our way round the capital and we’ll also negotiate what is probably Britain’s smallest traffic island. There are only a couple of spots where we’ll encounter serious traffic and it is pretty tame in those locations.

This ride is slightly different from our usual trips so a few things worth mentioning:
1. Bring a camera; there’s lots to see.
2. Bring something picnicable to munch on at lunch time.
3. NO RUNNING RED LIGHTS. I know you wouldn’t anyway but the group WILL wait for you if the light changes. Do not be tempted.
4. Don’t go up the inside (left side) of large vehicles: it never works out well. The group WILL wait for you.
5. You can opt for lycra-free dress on this ride, if you so wish, as neither the pace nor the distance makes lycra a necessity. (Please wear something in place of that lycra though – the WNBR is not ’til the following weekend) !

The weather forecast’s looking dry but cloudy. Warm though. I just need to book my train tickets now.

See you Saturday!

Iain’s contact details:
07909 992468
iain.d@ctc-northampton.org.uk
or comment below (automatically forwarded to Iain)

Advance information for our London Ride – Saturday 1st June

Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, shares some information about the London ride and transport arrangements:

Transport / Getting There

We are planning to be rolling from Euston Station – from the exit onto Melton Street – by 10.00 a.m., so the best trains – assuming you want to take the train – from Northampton would be the 0825 and the 0850. Please remember that ticket queues can be enormous at Northampton so don’t roll up at 8.20 a.m. expecting to make the train if you haven’t already bought your ticket(s).

Currently, London Midland is offering GroupSave tickets, allowing 4 people to travel for the price of 2, but the group that travels on the ticket has to stick together. I’m sure that can all be arranged between individuals.

There are no such joys to be had on East Midlands trains.

We can’t guarantee a finish time because if riders find one of the stops particularly interesting, we’ll hang around a little longer. We built stoppage time into our reconnaissance and made it back to Euston just before 5.00 p.m. so I’d advise either buying an open (day) return – off-peak – or leaving an hour longer than we did, unless you want to hang around a little longer in London, of course.

You don’t have to take the train if you don’t want to; there are other means of getting to London. 

Maps

TfL*1 and LCC*2, have produced some excellent cycling maps covering London; I use them for walking as well.

You don’t need to bring a map for this ride as your ride leaders know where we’re going but if you want to follow the route, they’re available FREE OF CHARGE from: https://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/11682.aspx. Our route is contained entirely in Sheet 7, also entirely in Sheet 14 (they overlap) and the bulk of it is in large scale on Sheet 1.

Food and Drink

For logistical reasons, we’ve opted for a riverside picnic. It is near a pub though. Very near. But bring something picnicable to munch on.

We’ll also be making a café stop later in the day at a place known to be friendly to cyclists. (And which was offering a Guest Coffee, in the manner of pubs’ Guest Beers, when we recce’d it. That ride was such hard work!)

Safety

The route stays almost entirely away from the major through-routes and their associated traffic. On the couple of occasions where we have to deal with traffic, it’s at traffic-light-controlled junctions or in low-speed zones so traffic speeds are low. Cycling is never a no-risk activity but there’s no reason why being in London on a Saturday should be any more dangerous than being in Long Buckby on a Saturday if you pay attention to your surroundings and try to stay safe.

Our biggest problem is likely to be pedestrians wandering around in the road.

Ride Distance/Pace

Distance and pace are similar to a Leisure Ride, in addition to which we’ll be stopping to see the sights en route (and having reviewed some of the photos from the recce, even a London Tour guide would have trouble finding all the sights we’re going to see).

Boris Bike Hire

Possible: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/cycling/14811.aspx but it’s expensive for the whole day.

Better than that: bring your own bike! Even one of those fold-up jobs will cope with this ride!

*1 Transport for London
*2 London Cycling Campaign