On Sunday 15th August 2010, we took the train from London to Bedford for the start of the ride. We had seven riders from Camden Cyclists, David Arditti came with two other Brent Cyclists and our numbers were made up with two people who ride with Central London CTC. John valiantly took up the back; fortunately there were no punctures this year.
It is a short ride from Bedford Station to Sustrans Route 51 which runs along the banks of the river Ouse and then joins a disused railway track for about 8 miles. We left the Sustrans Route just before Sandy to turn south towards Old Warden. We saw in the distance a gigantic hangar for the R101 airship (the biggest one built) which came to a bad end when it crashed and caught fire with a substantial part of the British government on board. We also noticed some tasty blackberries, but didn’t stop to harvest them.
There are possibilities for other rides on this route (e.g. to Oxford). See Information on Route 51
After a pleasant ride through a few small villages, we turned off at Old Warden into the grounds of the Shuttleworth Collection of old aircraft. We sat outside eating lunch at the pleasant café and watched a few small planes take off. There was a petrolheads rally of TVR sports cars so we were annoyed by the racket from sports cars without silencers. Then most of us went into the museum and looked around the collection – its 8 hangars have representatives of aircraft from the early 1900s, the first world war, the twenties and thirties and the second world war and a few after that. Everyone who went around found it absolutely fascinating in the way it captured the feel of early aviation.
About 3 o’clock we set off again through rural Bedfordshire, feeling that we must be quite high up as we had wide views over wheat fields. The terrain became hillier as we progressed and then we had to face the stiff climb up into Harlington for the train back to London. Some people took an alternative way into Harlington on a quieter road with a more gradual climb. We left two of our number in a pub. Trust they made it back to London.
You can look at the route of the ride together with its altitude profile at Bedford to Harlington on Google Maps
You can see larger versions of these photos and some others on our Flickr site where you could try viewing a slide show.
Photos by Phil Appleby