Went on my first ride with the London Brompton Club, though my Brompton hasn't yet arrived.
Got the day going after a quick trip to the Kings Cross shops… nothing better to get the day started than a bacon bap with brown sauce! (Though probably not the best of foods to go cycling with but it tastes good!)
I'd left my bike at the office over the weekend and so picked it up and changed before heading down to Embankment to meet the rest of the riders. It's a ride that I've not yet done (getting South of the river), but have a vague idea of how to get there (involving Gower Street, bridges and trying to avoid Whitehall), when I came across a road closure at Covent Garden, I ended up having to make a detour down to Trafalgar Square and Whitehall and across Westminster Bridge (I was aiming for Waterloo Bridge!).
Ended up at start of the ride and met the seven or eight others that would be forming our little peloton for the day. The weather was fantastic and couldn't have asked for much better over the past few weeks.
The ride started off quite nicely, running alongside the Thames and then off into South London. The route was interesting as I don't often start rides in London, and when I do, it's usually at Kings Cross and heading north, straight back out to Potters Bar. And when I do go north, it's usually along the A roads from Camden to Potters Bar so it's not exactly scenic so it was nice to take in some paths and cycleways that are a bit more scenic.
London provided some nice trails that were being either done up or contained the remains of the UK floods. Stopping for a quick break at Merton Abbey Mills, we headed off towards our lunch stop.
A brief climb up a hill (probably somewhat easier for me than my Brompton riding co-riders, though I was still beaten to the top of the hill by most of them - some of them probably double my age!) and then onwards to lunch, of which I neglected to get any pictures of the carrot cake I tucked into with gusto!
Anyhow, a quick stop, a few more miles and then up to the tallest point of the ride where we suffered our first puncture. Orange Brompton was climbing the hill when he suffered a blow out and we waited for him to complete the repairs to his rear tyre and tube. The benefit of having it happen on the hill meant that the rest of us could enjoy the scenery whilst he was busy.
So with that conquered, we ended up descending (fairly rapidly), down into the final stretches of the ride, which were dogged with potholes, mud and gravel with the occasional sewage leak and rubbish dump for good measure. It was a bit like taking part in a cyclocross ride - I'd certainly got the advantage over the others with my mountain bike framed hybrid.
With this route, it wasn't a surprise that this took it's toll on the bikes and as we pulled into the last town before Gatwick, I realised my front tyre had sprung a leak and one of the other riders ended up with a leak as well. We added some air and then hurried to Gatwick before we would need to change the tubes! (more of a hassle for the Brompton than for my quick release wheels to be fair).
Getting to Gatwick, I felt it was quite surreal to go up a goods elevator and arrive directly into the airport terminal in amongst all the check in desks! I wasn't the only one to be surprised, with passengers staring at the muddy bike riders amongst there midst! Just making it onto the train to Bedford, I was able to get back to St Pancras and managed to fix the puncture on the train. An interesting experience - a good thing my tyres are easy to get on and off the wheel!
You can read another view (with more and better pictures) over at Orange Brompton.
This has the effect of adding on another "tail" to the roads I've ridden. (I sort of the the bulk of the London rides look like a scorpion, hence the additional tail). I'm hoping to ride some more rides outside of London soon to cause more "spokes" to be added to the "hub" of London.
With luck, the next ride I do with the LBC will be with my own Brompton! I know that I'll have to get used to the gearing when that happens as it's not as simple as the standard gearing but it should prove interesting at least. Total distance riding for the year is 208Km - 8% of the estimated total for the year. It seems that not counting the commutes will make it harder to meet that target, but with perhaps a few cycling holidays planned. I'm looking at exploring the area between Leicester and London via National Cycle Route and I've investigated the Devon Coast to Coast and the Way of the Roses as well - perhaps I'll be doing one at Easter and another during the Summer. In fact, I've bought some kit specifically to allow me to do a few longer rides such as these (hence my previous post about turning my bike into a multi use touring bike!) In fact, the latest purchase I've made, a one man tent, should mean that I'll now have everything to start touring.