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 the cheapest of options and at eleven in the morning shade was at a premium but we found some 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.
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.
General Wolfe still looks out across Wren's astonishing demonstration of imperial power (and amid the gherkins and walkie-talkies you can still see his dome of 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 show 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 volunteers at the Brixton Windmill could not have been more welcoming for a much needed tea stop.
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 the second group got there at around 5.30.
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.