Leader: John Chamberlain
16.5 miles (26.5 km)
“The good news is we have made the ride shorter than previous years. The bad news is that we’ve kept the hills.” said John Chamberlain as he briefed the riders at the junction of The Broadwalk and Chester Road in Regents Park. It was a extremely warm day so we were all advised where we could fill up our water containers in the park and other locations on the ride.
Riders had been arriving from 10:30am where we met up with John and several cycling police officers and PCSOs, some from the Roads and Transport Policing Command and some from the Safer Neighbourhoods Team. There were eight in all which was a record. There was also support provided by marshals from Camden’s Cycle Training Team and experienced amateurs from Camden Cyclists.
It was difficult to do a headcount initially. We waited till we got out onto the Outer Circle and out of the park, to a pinchpoint the riders had to go through one at a time. The count came to twenty-seven riders plus eight police cyclists. This included Councillor Julian Fulbrook who is the current Cycling Champion for Camden, and former Councillor Paul Braithwaite also the former Cycling Champion.
There was a minor collision in St Johns Wood when two small boys clipped handlebars and came off. After cleaning grazes and drying tears we were ready to set off. Thanks to the Joanes family who were using a tandem with trailer as well as three conventional bikes, one of the boys got to ride on the back of the tandem (Clara kindly giving him her place) and his bike was carried in the child-carrier trailer.
We safely negotiated the back streets of St Johns Wood and West Hampstead and even the busy West End Lane. We checked that there were no riders waiting to meet us at Sidings Community Centre and started the slow incline towards Golders Hill Park going alongside the Hampstead School playing fields and through the Hampstead Cemetery, again negotiating West End Lane before tackling the steeper climb up to Sandy Lane.
After the steep climb in the midday sun, Golders Hill Park was a great relief for us all. We took an hour to eat our lunch, eat ice creams, drink coffee and generally relax in the sun while enjoying the wonderful panoramic views over London from one of its highest points. Yes, as you can see from the photos, even the police relax sometimes. Here we said goodbye to three of the police from the Safer Neighbourhoods Team as they had other responsibilities elsewhere.
Refreshed we set off again around the top of Hampstead Heath. To avoid the ever-congested Toll pinch-point at Spaniards Inn we took a diversion through the Heath Extension and again later to get off the busy Hampstead Lane.
We cut off another corner to avoid the busy double-roundabouts at The Gatehouse in Highgate and eventually came out on Highgate Hill. It was all downhill from here, again enjoying views of the skyline of London (which looks a bit misty in the photographs).
We then had a careful ride to Camden Town Hall down Dartmouth Park Hill, Brecknock Road and Camden Square. Here a couple of the police riders spotted a scooter being ridden by a couple of suspicious youths and decided to give chase. Unfortunately the youths spotted them and made a hasty escape. We continued without them down Camley Street to cross the Euston Road between Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations.
The town hall was officially the end of the ride but we were obviously going to guide riders back to the start point in Regents Park if necessary. The obligatory photos show eighteen riders (nineteen if you count me taking the photo) and even the youngest of the group, Clara who cycled most of the ride on her own tiny bike. We used the Tavistock Place cycling infrastructure to travel west and up Bolsover Street and Albany Street and back into Regents Park via Chester Gate.
Here we said farewell to the survivors of that warm day (British understatement!). Those left were all Camden Cyclists who voted to go to a nearby pub and have a cool drink. The most convenient was the pub we sometimes frequent after our monthly meetings in Primrose Hill Community Centre. The first pint of lager was reminiscent of the famous John Mills film ‘Ice Cold in Alex’.
While I’m on the subject of monthly meetings, the next one is on Monday 17th July at 7:30pm but this time at Sidings Community Centre, NW6 2BA. Clare Rogers will give us a presentation on the new Mini Holland in Enfield.
Grateful thanks go to all the people who helped plan the ride and all those who helped on the day, marshalling and ensuring the safety and well-being of all. Thanks also to Jenny Linn-Cole for her photographs.