Although I was born in London, been cycling for nearly 60-years and worked there for most of my life, it’s surprising and somewhat ironic that I did not cycle in London until returning from my ride to Paris on Eurostar in 2009. Since then I have briefly cycled in other parts of London e.g. on the way along the River Thames to Oxford in 2012 and returning from the East Anglia tour in 2014 but have never really cycled around London, until yesterday.
It’s got to be said that cycling in central London with the traffic is challenging and frankly somewhat dangerous at times due to the volume of traffic and driver attitudes – not exactly a pleasure, though they are currently building demarcated cycle lanes (cycle superhighways) that could change all that. Notwithstanding, it is a city full of wonderful sights and since the 2012 Olympics once a year the main streets of central London between Buckingham Palace and the City are closed off from 9am until the evening for cyclists to ride round unencumbered by traffic. Given my background I am naturally very familiar with this area but seeing it at a leisurely pace from a bike was a new and very enjoyable experience – together with more than 60,000 other cyclists!
Other than the spectacle itself and familiar iconic sights along the way, it was particularly good to see families out on the 8-mile circuit, often with quite young children riding solo. Credit must go to the sponsors Prudential and organisers for creating a safe and enjoyable ride which it seems is set to become a feature of London cycling for the foreseeable future.
After the so-called Freecycle ride (it is free and anybody can join in) the roads are then cleared for a women’s road race, a precursor to Sunday’s 100-mile ride / race though the Surrey countryside – broadly mimicking the 2012 Olympic road race – which this year includes the three times Tour de France winner Chris Froome; very well done to Chris + pleased to see him joining the throngs of cyclists through Surrey, close to where I live. Vive la Londres.