I was in London at the weekend and I wanted to get home on my bike - however, I fancied a change from my normal route which would take me up the A roads through Highgate, Barnet and out to Potters Bar so I decided to check out the route via Stratford.
The Stratford route is via the Lee Valley canal and National Cycle Route 1. In fact, I could take a cycle route from my work place, almost to my front door - perhaps less than 10Km on the 70Km route was on open road - the rest was on a cycle path.
I started at Waterloo station, having come in from Wimbledon. I cycled across London to Kings Cross to meet my riding buddy for the ride, my colleague Dan. He'd not done the route before either and it looked like a nice route so I'd invited him along to show him more of London, rather than his native Edinburgh.
We set off from Kings Cross and headed out to join the canal at Angel. However, our progress was rapidly slowed by a boating festival on in Islington and so we dismounted to carry on along the canal before getting back on the bikes and getting to Stratford. This wasn't the first boating festival or regatta we came across either - there was another further up the River Lea that we came across.
The route wasn't quite as straight forward as I expected but in general it was fairly easy to follow. The path was a mix of packed gravel and occasional bits of tarmac but in general was doable on a Brompton and Dan was riding a road bike without much trouble (though had to be careful cornering as that wasn't quite as easy as it could have been).
We stopped at a cafe along the canal which was quite nice and ended up with a slice of cake and a cup of tea before heading onwards.
There was a lot of other riders out but a lot of them seemed to be going in the other direction, especially once we cleared the M25 and started heading North out of London properly.
We got to Hertford and managed a wrong turn but quickly got back onto the Cole Green Way before heading into Welwyn. I dropped Dan back at the station and headed home. Overall, a distance of about 70Km from Waterloo.
The ride was pleasant in terms of scenery, though a bit industrial (and smelly - not your typical outdoor smells but unpleasant chemical smells) around the Tottenham area of the canal. However, that cleared up, especially after the M25.
There were a lot of canal boats out and about along the canal which was nice to see and provided some entertainment as we watched various locks open.
However, one thing I wasn't impressed was how tired I felt in the evening! With only a few days to go until Paris, going to bed aching isn't something that I want. I felt fine the next day but the average day I'll be riding will be 70Km, I can hope things are a bit better than this ride!