Mountain Bike - Once More Into The Smoke

Posted: Sunday, 17 November 2013 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,

I was enjoying a very chilled out Friday afternoon only to have my reverie disturbed by the notice of the unexpected, but not unwelcome early arrival of Pyro Tim. He would be coming all the way from Bournemouth in Dorset and wanted to avoid an early morning rushed drive by overnighting chez moi.

It was a good excuse to do some much needed housekeeping and where possible tidy up my pit, as I went around I realised that some areas hadn't be touched since August. Ah, the joy of bachelorhood,  speaking of which, Tim will soon be a dad and I suspect he is enjoying his last months of freedom before his life takes a new direction. He also had the good grace to arrive bearing copious quantities of the splendid "Ringwood 49er" beer, a fine, dark, nutty brew perfect for winter drinking.

At around 4am, whilst I slumbered Pete (elpedro666) was leaving Stockport, on the outskirts of Manchester, in order to be down in time for breakfast. As soon as I awoke in the morning I checked on the net and could see that he was well on his way. Soon after, Andy from Sevenoaks arrived, having elected to leave his car at my place to avoid the hassle of Croydon's multi-story car parks on a Saturday. Within minutes, the three of us were making the short sprint to East Croydon for the official start of the ride.

We soon located the Wizard of Oz "G'day mate" who had travelled over from Ealing, Pete (FlossyRockstar) who had made the descent down from Biggin Hill, Kent and John who had taken the train from his base in the Surrey Hills near Guildford. Last to arrive was Pete (elpedro666) having pedalled the 15 miles from Euston without so much as even stopping for breakfast, top banana.

This promised to be the best attended Urban RetroBike ride ever and also the first in nearly perfect conditions, with light winds and sunny skies. It was even reasonably warm, at least when not in the shade.

We set off, however the pleasant and peaceful run through the parks of South London was marred by much squeaking from pedals of Tim's ride. Taking this as an omen, we made an early pit stop at Catford for bacon sandwiches and supplies of GT85 lubricant, earning poor Tim the nickname "Vaseline Boy" for the duration.

Vaseline Boy - refreshed and fully oiled

Refreshed and fully oiled, we soon headed uphill to Blackheath with Pete deciding to go head to head with Tim for the "King of the Mountains" title. Despite Pete's promising start, Tim drew on his reserves and made it to the top first. We had the obligatory photo opportunity at the statue of General Wolfe, by the Royal Observatory before the break neck descent back down to Greenwich.

Statue of General Wolfe - Obligatory photo opportunity

Crossing under the Thames though the foot tunnel we made our rendezvous with Gordon who had made the ride across from Paddington station and was delay by mechanical troubles. By popular demand, we halted for a couple of swift halves at a nearby river side pub.

Urban RetroBikers - in full swing

Moving off the Isle of Dogs and into Bow we made a sad and poignant stop at the notorious crossing of the A108 and the CS2 cycle superhighway, where a only few days earlier, there had been a fatal collision between a cyclist and traffic.

Leaving the busy traffic behind, we joined the tranquillity of the Regents Canal for a slalom between the tourists up towards Haggerston. At this point the A-Z of London came out twice in order to find a short back street route to the BMX pump track in Haggerston Park.

Gordon - BMX track Haggerston

The lads demonstrated their BMX prowess by making a lap or two, then we returned to the main roads for a new route through the City of London taking us across Tower Bridge and towards City Hall for a late lunch.

Pete - Furthest Distance Travelled

After lunch we had a quick vote and selected the following ride winners:

RetroBike de Jour - Orbit - Andyz
Highly Commended - Diamond Back - Pyro Tim
Furthest Distance Travelled - Pete - Stockport (200 miles)

We navigated some pedestrian sections of the South Bank, full to bursting point, around the Golden Hind to cross the infamous wobbly Millennium bridge by the Tate Modern Gallery heading towards St Paul's Cathedral.
Regrouping on the North Bank we headed down The Strand, round Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace before splitting apart.

Pete, Gordon and the Wizard then headed North towards Euston and Paddington stations, whilst the Southerners headed towards Victoria and on through; Vauxhall, Loughborough Junction and Herne Hill.
Some miles further on Pete challenged Tim to a flat out ride up Gypsy Hill and (apparently) won, leaving the score for "King of the Mountains" an even draw.

Pete - King of the Mountains, almost

After a final beer we made the rapid descent of South Norwood Hill back to East Croydon, dropping off John at the station and returning home with Tim and Andy.

My commendations to all who took part, you are all stars and not a single puncture all day too.