Monday, 15 August 2022

2022 Greenwich Ride, 13 August. Mad dogs and Sou'Westers.

by Paul

By nine or so, when folk across South London were in various stages of preparation for the traditional annual ride to Greenwich, it was seriously warm out there.  A number of riders had called off, some citing the heat, but the Magnificent Seventeen turned up and we had ourselves a convoy; two convoys, in fact!

For the journey north we used the familiar route.  Maggie and I are thinking of trying to plan a bit of a change next year, maybe involving Crystal Palace and Dulwich parks, but we were too busy this time around.  We have also experimented with different routes through Croydon but the one past the the Parish Church, the Town Hall and East Croydon Station presents the fewest high-risk spots.  Coffee at Kent House Station is not cheap but it is the only practical option and at eleven in the morning we found some shade and the coffee and cakes were good.  

Kent House coffees.  The proprietor brought in extra cake (seriously!)

As the years go by the bridges across the Pool and Ravensbourne rivers become increasingly worn but the ride through South East London parks, weaving over the rivers, remains a relaxing one with little reference to the busy urban traffic or the cares of life off a bicycle.

The mazy trek through Lewisham went smoothly; the traffic was light; many people must have been on holiday or hiding from the sun, and the only real hill of the day was the climb up to Blackheath.  On the parched top of the Heath the lack of cover was mitigated by a welcome easterly breeze.  

Dave's group on the Heath.....

....and at the viewpoint......

....and Paul's group arriving at the statue of General Wolfe

General Wolfe still looks out across Wren's astonishing demonstration of imperial power (and amid the gherkins and walkie-talkies you can make out his dome at St Paul's).

The following few miles are a history lesson; Hawksmoor, the nineteenth century wool trade, Peter the Great, Brunel, Turner, Judge Jeffries and Edward III, not to mention the lightermen and stevedores and the rest who slaved in the dockyards and the immigrants who arrived there.

Dockers?  Immigrants?  Dave shows off his private yacht

Paul's group at the Dog & Bell

The Dog and Bell remains the best pub in Greenwich; the Red Thai Curry was as good as the Green had been on the Thursday recce.  The sadness was having to eschew all those East London ales and sit with a pint of Coca-Cola!  The volunteers at the Brixton Windmill could not have been more welcoming for a much needed tea stop and their tea seemed like the elixir of life itself.  Those strawberries on top of the cake were delicious.  

Brixton Windmill on a scorching afternoon.  The volunteers there had home made cakes for us.

And MED at Merton Abbey Mills was still open for a farewell coffee and ginger beer when my group got there at around 5.30; Dave's had already left for a cool drink in the garden at home.  Not Coca-Cola, I presume!

A warm day out, but a splendid one.  Thanks especially to Dave Vine and Helen for helping with the leading, and to everyone else for the company.  See you next year, when there will be a special reduction in price for those mad enough to cycle in the sun this year. 

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Greenwich Ride Saturday 13 August; order of play

The ride itself will start from the Pavilion Cafe in Beddington Park.  It is an urban/park/riverside ride through some busy places and to make things easier and avoid annoying drivers and residents, we will go in three groups.

At 09.30, from the crossroads at North Cheam (eastern corner of junction between Malden Road and London Road), Helen Tovey and Steph Wyatt will lead those who said they would prefer to meet there to Beddington Park.  These we know of are Mayuri Patel, Jen Carmichael, Debbie Sands, Maggie Gibson, Kasumi and John Brooker.

Morning tea/coffee is at the Kent House station cafe.  They should be ordering extra cake for us, though be prepared to take out a small mortgage if you want two cakes!  There is a loo; only one, but very smart.

Lunch is at the Dog and Bell, Prince Street, Deptford.  Thai curry recommended, plenty of loos.

Tea is at the Brixton Windmill.  Unbelievably reasonable in price (to make up for the morning) and splendid home made cakes.  One loo.

The ride formally ends at Merton Abbey Mills.  We will ensure that those who are not sure of the way will be led back to Morden Hall Park and/or Beddington Park, though you may have to wait for the final group to get in if you require that service. 

Group 1 will depart the Pavilion Cafe at 10.00.

Leader, Dave Vine.

John & Anne Connaughton, Alan Clark, Sharon Smith, Anna and Roger Parsley, Ken Jones.

Group 2 will depart at 10.15 or as soon as Helen arrives with the Cheam contingent (allowing for a comfort break if necessary), whichever is the later.

Leader Helen Tovey

Mayuri Patel, Jen Carmichael, Debbie Sands, Maggie Gibson, Sue Bellamy, Kasumi and John Brooker

Group 3 will depart at 10.30, or if Helen is late off, ten minutes after her group.

Leader Paul James

Maggie James, Steph Wyatt, Madeleine Shearer, Justine Hawkins, Paul Guiste, Kamaljit kaur heer, plus any late applicants.

Please remember to bring plenty of water (we recommend freezing it overnight), a spare inner tube, a bike lock (though at all the stops the bikes can be parked within sight of some of the group), and some spare energy of your own choice (eg banana, cereal bar, etc.).  Despite the hot weather, there is a fair amount of shade along the way and much of the ride is along waterways.

The ride will be conducted at Beginners pace and the leaders will ensure no-one is left behind.  If you are split from the group, remember that the rule is to carry straight on because the leader will be waiting for you before or at the next turn.  Dave rode it yesterday and Helen, Maggie and I rode it today.  Just to give some idea of timings we left at 10.30 and in no hurry we were at morning coffee by 11.30, at lunch by 1.15, at the tea stop in Brixton by 4 and at coffee at Merton Abbey Mills by 5.15, home by 6.30. 

For those with electronic mapping the route can be found on Ride with GPS or on Strava, though leaders may deviate if the circumstances require it.

Paul's mobile number is 07718 753 234.  He promises to pay attention to it between 10 and 10.30 on Saturday!

Monday, 8 August 2022

Greenwich ride 13 August; recce on Thursday 11 August

Paul is looking for a couple more group leaders to assist in the All Day ride to Greenwich on Saturday next, 13 August.

He will be riding the route for the final recce on Thursday 11 August, starting from the Pavilion Cafe in Beddington Park at 10.30am.

Anyone welcome; if you are on the list of insured club leaders and available to lead on Saturday and free on Thursday, just turn up for a 10.30 departure on Thursday.

Otherwise, if you are able to lead a complicated urban route just using the electronic map, let him know and he will publish the final route on Thursday night.  

If you are on the way to Beddington Park on Thursday morning and a few minutes behind schedule, ring or text him on 07718 753 234 so he doesn't go without you. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Messin' about on the river again. Nonsuch Beginners 30 July

By Paul

A decent number tuned up at a warm Nonsuch on Saturday and there was not really a short ride; Lynda took one group to Teddington Lock and I took the other to Molesey.  Bereft of the sea, the river seemed the only sensible thing.

The ferns were huge and richly green in Bushy Park, a reminder that they have been around for five hundred million years and will long survive mankind, let alone this drought.  But with the wide swathes of brown grass and the clutches of young deer gathered at the watering places it felt like we were riding through the Serengeti; you half expected a lean lioness to be stalking in the undergrowth.

There were twelve of us in my group including Rob'n'Ruth on the tandem and, attacked by no predators we had a pleasant ride to take tea at Eight on the River.

Could you just take a step back, please? Eleven on the river at Eight on the River

We meandered back past the lovely pondside church at Weston Green, designed by Edward Maufe, who designed Guildford Cathedral; the only hitch was a puncture for Alan on the way home on South Lane in Old Malden when at the roadworks there he ran over a screw big enough to hold the Forth Bridge together, which made a mess of his tyre and his mudguard.  Oh, and I ran over a huge rat in The Grove at Carshalton. 

Otherwise, another good, relaxing day out.  Thanks everyone for the company.     

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Invitation to the All Day Ride to Greenwich on Saturday 13 August

The annual All Day Ride to Greenwich will be on Saturday 13 August, leaving the Pavilion Cafe in Beddington Park from 10am.

We hope to escort a group of those who can't find Beddington park from Cheam at 9.30.

32 miles back to Beddington Park, flat as a pancake apart from having to climb up to Blackheath (annoyingly, they built the Observatory on a hill!), through South London parks in the morning, up the river to Bermondsey Beach and then through the back streets of Camberwell and Brixton to see the windmill, and home over Tooting Common.

Depending on the uptake, we hope to run an alternative home route to Cheam, and an option of a pub lunch or sandwiches.

Volunteers for group leaders would be most welcome, and a final recce will be available if you want it on Thursday 11th or Friday 12th, or by arrangement.  I will shortly publish the route on Ride with GPS.

Those who want to join the ride please e-mail   

Monday, 25 July 2022

The Alpine method; Beginners, 23 July

Paul reports.....

Nigel is still injured, so Steve volunteered to lead the longer ride out of Nonsuch Park on a warm day with a bit of a breeze.  The rides list said it was to be Farthing Down but Steve decided that Farthing down was too far away and too hilly for a warm day, so he would go over Box Hill (which is further).  Box Hill, he explained, was not hilly at all except for the Box Hill bit.

Once we had vaguely agreed that those who cannot deal with altitude could turn back from Rykas, he had eleven takers so we decided to split into two, Steve taking the first group and Paul the second, giving him a five minute start.  It became a bit longer than five minutes when Lynda set off with the short ride to Ashtead, but set out we eventually did, Ken, Karen, Anna, Roger, Maggie, Alan and yours truly with Mariaan, a relative newcomer to the club, who is trying to get in the training to do a charity London to Brighton ride in September.

There had to be a balance between maintaining Beginners pace and not being stranded overnight on the vertiginous slopes of le Col du Box, so onward we drove, through the Valley where the glacial waters of the Mole tumble from the Surrey Hills slopes and we set up Base Camp on a wooden table at Ryka's.

The earlier expedition had not even bothered to stop there, but we were taking no risks and the support team made themselves at home coiffing tea and coffee and cakes while the climbers took quicker refreshment and set out for the peak.  

We climbed in the Alpine tradition, no supplies, no oxygen, to gain the peak and return safely as quickly as possible and that we did, all of us attaining the first objective, the viewpoint, but only the leader making it to Smith and Western.  Just as he got there he believes he made out, in the distance, the shapes of Steve's earlier expedition, some quarter of a mile ahead of him.  It proved a poignant moment, for they were never seen again.  We may never know whether they made the true peak, or disappeared in a valiant attempt, though thee tracks in the snow recorded by Strava suggest that they conquered it.

In contrast, we three returned safely to base camp where the support team were on their umpteenth cake and beverage, and from there we returned to civilization via Ashtead Common, where we took a "short" cut to make the ride a really worthwhile 37 miles door to door.

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Sunday 10th July - ride report

 Thanks all for accompanying me on my quest to see the amazing interior of the barn.  Ian - well done for determination to get there after missing us at Kingston.  Thanks to Tony Hopkins for excellent off road route alternatives and Tony Hooker for back marking.

It was a lovely day with a good turn out.  The off road section was improved by avoiding the tunnel by the old marshalling yards nature reserve and heading northeast for Hounslow Heath through better surfaced off road .  A leisurely lunch ...mix of picnickers and Crown pub.  Such was the improvement to the route we arrived before opening time but were able to confirm our orders and order a much needed drink.  The village is pretty and the barn impressive.  Some took in the church with the gravestone of Mr Cox the grafter of Coxes Orange Pippins and testament to the orchards and market gardens that once occupied the fertile soil beneath the concrete runways of Heathrow.     The memorial down the road to Barnes Wallis and his bouncing bombs was visited by John who was then accosted by a lady with news of a time trial shield for West London Cycling club with names engraved on it from the 1950s.  She had picked it up out of a skip but was reluctant to hand it over.  

The return route joined the Grand Union via another section of Tony Hopkins inspired invention.   The notable sign at Balls Bridge informed of the mileage to Paddington if anyone wished to return by train.  We exited the canal into Osterley Park but it being Sunday and busy we kept to the perimeter bridleway.  Soon cruising down Church Rd into Isleworth we kept north of the Thames enjoying the Twickenham riverside with teas and ice creams and finally a viewing of the massive Carrera marble statue of mermaids and webbed hoofed horses hidden away in the shrubbery.

A great day out.