Leader: James Brander
Distance: 30.28 miles (48.73km)
Just one other rider came to meet me at Sidings Community Centre. Michael thought another friend, Jiten, was also coming. He gave him a call but he couldn’t make it. Michael and I cycled down to Regents Park.
There were 5 other riders there, James, Kevin, Alan, Nicola, Ann. Will and Clare arrived soon after.
Nine of us altogether set off from the café back to Gloucester Gate where, due to HS2 works, we had to dismount and walk our bikes out to Albany Street then eastward on mainly cycle paths and quiet roads to St Pancras Way, down past St Pancras Station and across the Euston Road.
James took us via back streets past Mount Pleasant Sorting Office and down the Cycle Super Highway on Farringdon and over Blackfriars Bridge. At last we were south of the river.
A couple of the riders, Ann and Clare, decided not to continue with the ride and left us to ride home. The rest headed east along union Street and Newcomen Street and through Guy Street Park and Leathermarket Gardens, under the railway and north to ride along the river opposite Wapping. We then rode south through Kings Stairs Gardens and across the Jamaica Road into Southwark Park where we stopped for a coffee and a comfort break.
Continuing south through the park and out of Southwark into the borough of Lewisham. We rode over the railway this time and past The Den, home of Millwall Football Club, then north and westward, back into Southwark and skirting Burgess Park we rode down the lovely, peaceful, Surrey Canal path to Peckham.
We went through the busy Rye Lane market area skirting the busy junctions to visit a favourite tree of James’. We came out onto and across Peckham Rye Common then south-west towards Dulwich Park. I had to remark how lovely it is when the park entrance is finally revealed as a surprise as you turn a corner. Hats off to the planners and designers of the roads and parks when they were laid out (in the 1890s for Dulwich).
Dulwich Park was very busy as it was hosting a funfair and many food stalls. By now we were all quite hungry but James pushed us on to the next park a short distance away, Brockwell Park.
The café in Brockwell Park is in the centre but up a steepish hill. We felt we’d earned our lunch when we got there. The lunch was excellent. There were several choices of dishes from which you could pick and mix and all of us took advantage of this.
It was here that Nicola discovered that she had a broken spoke on the back wheel. James always carries essential tools with him and tried adjusting the tension on the remaining spokes so the wheel was aligned a little better. The wheel had been rubbing on the brakes for a while.
After another visit to the facilities we set off down the hill northward through Brixton towards Clapham Common. Continuing northwards we entered Battersea Park and cycled around to the kiosk for a break.
However, no-one was in need of refreshment (or the loo). Here both Will and Alan left us in different directions. The rest of us, now only 5, continued across Chelsea Bridge, through Pimlico and Belgravia to Knightsbridge. Coming up Chesham Street my eye was caught by a beautifully decorated corner house. I am loath to say what flowers they are, not being at all knowledgeable, but it was a lovely surprise.
We eventually managed to cross Knightsbridge, the lights didn’t seem to include a cycle phase, but we entered and cycled across Hyde Park, avoiding Speakers Corner full of people debating important issues.
Just north of Hyde Park we split up again. James, Nicola and Kevin went east back to Regents Park. Michael and I continued north in a more direct route back to our respective starting points. We finally said farewell to each other in St John’s Wood.
Thanks to James for planning an excellent route covering so many of the parks in South London. Will kept saying that we would have to do the route again on our own. And thanks to all the riders for your company. It was an excellent day’s cycling.