We assembled outside the Town Hall in Bidborough Street where Paul Davis registered participants in the Camden electric van and Richard Riddle’s team of cycle trainers did a quick bike check. There was a very friendly atmosphere as people greeted the regulars from other years and the newcomers as well. Paul and Stefano did their usual double act of welcoming and briefing the riders, advising them to drink plenty of water along the way.
|Registration of riders||Stefano briefs the marshalls||Paul briefs the riders|
|Our police escort||Happy family with Dutch bikes||David and Murray|
As Paul led people out at the start, and as they turned down Judd Street, I counted 63 cyclists including the five police officers, the cycle trainers and the marshalls from Camden Cyclists. We took the usual route via Guilford Street and Phoenix Road, using Herbal Hill instead of Back Lane to reach Hatton Garden. We dodged through Leather Lane market and via Chancery Lane to Lincolns Inn Fields where we had our first toilet stop. Already it was pretty hot, and people looked for shady spots to wait.
|Stefano briefs riders at the start||Lincolns Inn Fields||Leather Lane Market||Regents park|
The crossing over Kingsway required four sets of lights – very frustrating, but Great Queens Street on the other side and our traversal of Covent Garden was peaceful although we did have to watch out for pedestrians. Charing Cross Road and the route round the works at St Giles Circus into Tottenham Court Road were an unpleasant contrast due to traffic, road works and other hassles. Then we went via Howland Street to Euston Road and in Albany Street the marshalls hurried us on up to Chester Gate from where we soon reached Regents Park and our second stop – unfortunately the water fountain was dry. However, the mass ride away up the Broadwalk was one of the highlights of the day.
We continued our ride on the outer circle and then went west along the border of Westminster on Ordnance Hill and Boundary Road until the border of Brent on Kilburn High Road – probably the low point of the ride with its preponderance of buses, road works and numerous red signals, although we were relieved that the jams on our side of the road were less bad than those on the other side. After what felt like a couple of miles, although it’s only one, we turned right into Minster Road and then went past the playing fileds into Hampstead Cemetry where we stopped to fill our water bottles.
|Hampstead Cemetry||waiting for water||water|
The fresh supply of water helped us make the final climb to Sandy Lane and into Golders Hill Park by about 1.30pm where we relaxed, chatted and consumed our sandwiches and ice cream.
|lunch for cycle trainers||lunch for Julian and Mary||lunch for cycle trainers|
We set off again by about 2.15, round the edge of the Heath with a small excursion into Barnet on the north side of Hampstead Heath to see the grand houses on Ingram Avenue, thus avoiding the dangerous pinch-point of the Spaniards Inn, onto Hampstead Lane with a last climb to Highgate Village (the highest point of the ride). We then swooped all the way down the hill following the Islington border on Dartmouth Park Hill, Brecknock Road and York Way, returning to the Town Hall where we said goodbye to our police escort. We were very pleased that Camden’s police Chief Inspector had agreed that the police would support the ride. The presence of their uniforms seemed to have a good effect on other road users.
40 participants completed the circumnavigation of the Camden boundary and 20 hardy souls made the final four miles to the official end, having visited every one of Camden’s wards, at Hampstead Old Town Hall. Congratulations to the Pearson family and specially Luke on completing the ride for the fifth time and arriving looking quite cool.
|Pearson family on arrival||Jean arrives||Richard|
Richard’s team of cycle trainers Irina, Joost and Toby worked tirelessly during the ride organising the safe traversal of the multitude of junctions on the route. Their efforts were aided by work from Julian Fulbrook.
You can look at more photos (by Paul Braithwaite and me) as well as enlargements of the above on our Flickr site. Try the slideshow option.
A map of the route is here.
Jean Dollimore 1.7.11