David Parkinson our ride host / leader called it Route 21. It is a 48 km loop from London Eye going south mostly following the cycle path Route 21 and terminating back at London Eye. It was to commence at 10 in the morning and scheduled to be completed by 2 in the afternoon. Most of the LBC members will call it short ride but not me. Anything over 10 km is a long ride for me.
|Graham, Tony, Sleebus and David
I prepared for this for weeks. Well, I did not really trained for it. I merely went online and checked those New Year sales for cycling apparels. But as with sales, the size or colour is not normally available and I ended up buying those that are not on sales. I spend a fortune. I bought 3 shorts, 2 jerseys, 1 tight bib, 2 snods, 1 anti pollution mouth mask and 1 base layer. I thought, with these lot I would be property rugged up for the ride.
I spent the whole Friday night choosing the attire I will be wearing bearing in mind that the temperature will be hovering around 0 degree. I knew that the next morning I would not have much time as I have to catch the train at 9.08 am.
|Lost Horizon found.
I wore my new tights which the manufacturer claims will provide me with a supreme comfort and warmth. They have this wonderful term Nanoflex which means, it would not only repel rain but it would also make me cycling faster and I would look as sporty as those riders in Tour de France.
I caught the 9.08 train to London Waterloo and to my pleasant surprise Sleebus Jones, one of the big names in LBC, was also in the same carriage I hopped into. He came on board from a station a mile or so up stream, if I can use that word.
I thought, this is going to be a great day. With Sleebus, there is no dull moment. We chatted all the way to Waterloo. The express non stop train felt even faster. We arrived early and because it was very cold outside we decided to stay in the station until about 10 minutes to the meeting time.
We found a quiet space opposite the Wasabi Shop where Sleebus allowed me to scrutinise, touch and play with his little ding-a-ling. It is fantastic. It is a bell. A bike bell made by Spurcycle, if I remember it right.
|No, this is not Sleebus ding-a-ling. It is a 12 gear modification.
We were right on time when we arrived at London Eye. Two members were already there, then the rest arrived. In no time David was briefing us about the ride. It was cold. Very cold. Thank goodness for my new tights. We were all wearing the same thing. We were wearing a smile. ( oh no they are not smiling about my tights, no one even noticed ) We were smiling because we know we have a great day ahead.
As soon as we zoomed off, we have forgotten about the near zero degree temperature. It was perfect, well for me anyway, because I could pedal as hard as I could and not getting a sweat. We had a brief photo opportunity along the river before we reached Greenwich. From there, I felt like we headed south until we reached the Comptons Cycles.
|Bubble Bee, Graham and Chris caught on camera riding the BMX track.
I like this bike shop. They have a lot of Brompton bikes ready to take away. Also they have all the things you could possibly want for your Brompton. I am sure they also have a lot of ding-a-lings for which they are quite happy to oblige to be inspected and played around with. But more importantly, they are very welcoming and very friendly. A sort of shop where you are treated as a person rather than a number. Pity though that I live at the opposite side of London. Otherwise I would be visiting this shop everyday checking out their ding-a-lings. Thank you Comptons Cycle for your genuine hospitality.
|Chris, Bee and Tony enjoying hot chocolate at Cromptons Cycle
National Cycle Route 21 is about 150 km long. We did only a small segment of it which I find very nice and very interesting. There is that part that runs along a creek home to so many birds and ducks. You wouldn't think you are in the middle of the big city.
|You wouldn't know you are in the city of London
|Image by David Parkinson
The loop back was also very interesting and challenging. David took us to some hilly bits. Everyone seems to have enjoyed those hills which to me looked like Mt Everest. As we got closer to the finish line about 4 members bid their goodbyes and thank you(s). The remaining 8 of us crossed the finish line.
It was 3 pm when we reached back London Eye. We continued on chatting our merry way as no one seems to be in a hurry to go home. Six of us, Graham Parks, John Malamatenios, Sleebus Jones, The Legend Andrew Barnett, Chris Bridges and yours truly ended up at Katzenjammers for drinks and food. It was most enjoyable. Just as well that Graham and I were there. Otherwise it was a case of every body is talking and no one is listening. ( But I supposed that is better than the opposite of everybody is listening and no one is talking. )
|Waiting for the food and drinks
|I ordered schnitzel. I can't believe I've eaten all this.
What a fantastic day, wonderful route and superb company.
This is the thing I like riding with LBC. It gives me opportunity to see, explore and appreciate London more. It gives me a chance to rub shoulders with the fun,wonderful and beautiful people of LBC. I get to ride my Brompton and it forces me to get fit so I can keep up with the peloton.
Thank you David and Anne. You are dynamic duo. Thank your for organizing rides. I know it is not, but you make it all look so easy. Navigating, keeping the herd together, timing the loo stop, the coffee stop, the waiting and waiting. I don't know how you do it. But you do it so well and effortlessly. My thanks and my respect to you both. Please don't get tired doing it.
|We got the finish line. No one is in a hurry to go home.
We finally said our "hasta la vista". Sleebus, Chris and myself headed off to Waterloo Station. Chris proceeded to the Underground while Sleebus and I took the same train towards Southwest London. No, we were no longer talking about his little ding-a-ling. We were talking about the next upcoming rides which both of us are excited about.
I arrived home very pleased.