As with any bike ride, we always worry about the weather forecast, particularly hoping not to have continuous rain or too much sun. The day started dull and remained so, but the temperature was easily warm enough for sitting comfortably in Golder’s Hill Park, yet not hot enough to cook our police escort in their heavy gear.
By 9:30 am, Paul Davis from Camden Council Smarter Travel Team was ready outside the Town Hall to greet the riders as they arrived; and the cycle trainers Toby, Irina, Michelle and David Munday were available to check peoples’ bikes before marshalling the ride. Camden Cyclists marshalls included Stefano, John, James, Angela and Geoff. The riders gradually gathered and we were pleased to see people who had done the ride before as well as new faces.
We were pleased to see four councillors – Phil Jones, Sue Vincent, Sally Gimson (for the first time) and Julian Fulbrook (who must have done almost all of these rides, this time with two young scouts).
Police Officer Phil Bloor and PCSO Abdul from Camden’s Safer Transport team came in time for a chat before we set off. We very much welcomed their presence as a protection from the more extreme road users we sometimes have to share the road with.
After Paul had briefed the riders, we set off at 10:30. There were 50 people in our group including several young children with their parents, who proved to be very strong riders with excellent bike handling capabilities. We followed the usual route past Corams Fields and the former Mount Pleasant sorting office, down Hatton Garden and Leather Lane to High Holborn avoiding Holborn Circus.
We had our usual rest in Lincolns’ Inn Fields then went via Remnant Street to cross Kingsway into Great Queen Street. This is where our new variant of the route started. We found that going up Drury Lane and Museum Street then via Montague Place and Bedford Square was far more pleasant than the old route on Charing Cross Road and under Centre Point. The next stage took us across Euston Road into Albany Street and then to Regent’s Park where we had a second rest at the foot of the Broadwalk from 11:45 to noon.
Spoilsports, the Royal Parks, had explicitly forbidden us riding up the Broadwalk, so we had to retrace our steps to the Outer Circle after our “comfort break”. The following photos show the group coming round the Outer Circle to the top of the Broadwalk.
We followed a route to the west of Avenue Road into Boundary Road and then turned off on a new route via Abbey Road and Priory Road, West End Lane, Iverson Road and Maygrove Road to join the old route at Munster road. This avoided the need to go up Kilburn high Road.
We had a very short rest in Hampstead cemetary
The next stage was a downhill run on Fortune Green Road, via Lyncroft Gardens to a safe crossing of Finchley Road. Then came the steep bit through the Kidderpores to Platt’s Lane. We had our customary rest near the top of Rosecroft Avenue where the ‘strong riders’ waited for the slower ones of us to catch up. But we were very impressed with the strength of the junior riders and their ability to deploy their gears effectively.
Finally, we went via Sandy Road to our lunch stop in Golder’s Hill Park at the predicted time of 1:15 all arriving together. Most of us had brought picnics, but we were so busy chatting and exchanging experiences that we forgot to take any photos.
The return route was the usual one via the Heath extension and Hampstead Lane where we had a little wait while we all caught up with the front.
The traffic was very congested on entry to and through Highgate Village and we were subjected to insults by a bystander who accused us of being selfish just for riding in the road (about 15 cyclists taking up the space of a single car). The good thing was that the police officers suddenly appeared and told the astonished person to mind his language. We regrouped on Highgate Hill before plunging down to Magdala Road.
We followed the Islington border via Brecknock Road and York Way, turning right along Agar Grove and then onto the Agar-Camley Link. Since this is the last peripherique ride that Paul plans to lead and that he was the prime mover in getting the Agar-Camley Link built, we stopped mid point to thank him for his eight year stint as Camden’s Cycling Champion Councillor.
After descending Camley Street we went past St Pancras and Kings Cross stations and round to in Judd Street where we posed for a our usual group photo at the end of an 18 mile circuit of Camden. Here we said ‘Good bye’ to the cycle trainers and the final stage up to Hampstead Old Town Hall.
The last stage is a four mile ride ‘up the middle’ via Royal College Street and Queens Creecent, to the Royal Free Hospital, where we siad “Good Bye” to our police escort before. This time we took the little back route to avoid the extra hill on Pond Street.
We gathered at Hampstead Old Town Hall, congratulating the Pearson family (Simon, Diane and Luke) who had completed all eight Peripheriques. A dozen riders made it to the end – witness the photo below.
Jean Dollimore. 18 June 2014
Photos by Geoff Stilwell, Paul Braithwaite, Alex Levashev and Jean Dollimore.
Map of the route is at http://goo.gl/maps/eUYGg