There was plenty of rain about as I awoke but being the leader I couldn't just roll over. However there was a rapid improvement and it stayed fine and warm all day. Surprisingly the ride started from North Cheam but nonetheless we were six (Graham, Ann, Ed, Jake, Richard and Steve) at the start. The route was predictable: back to Kingston Bridge, Hampton Court, Shepperton and Laleham where the towpath was taken to Staines. Here Irene and Pam joined but on restarting Ann’s front tyre exploded just after the bridge. Purchasing and fitting the replacement took the best part of an hour and a quarter. We continued via Wraysbury and the Jubilee River to arrive at the Dorney Court elevenses around 1230!
Through sheer luck no change to the ride was needed, as the lunch stop was only six miles away. I stretched that to eight by switching to the Royal Standard at Wooburn Common (well reviewed on the web). The road past Cliveden was closed to all including cyclists. Here the group showed its true colours by allowing the leader to investigate the advertised guard dogs alone – fortunately there were none. The pub was fine if somewhat crowded and beside a busy road.
The lane after the pub was a delight – narrow and full of farmyard hens, ducks and geese. Later I enjoyed a fleeting glimpse of a water deer (but it might have been a muntjac). The road was flooded at the ford near Fulmer despite its recent conversion to an Irish bridge. And then it was the long straight road past Pinewood studios to Langley, Colnebrook and Poyle before we took the roughly restored bridleway across Staines Moor. Tea was at North’s of Staines (est. 2006) – thoroughly recommended.
Monday, September 04, 2006
"You're better off by bike" says TFL and today it certainly felt like it.
Today the Tour of Britain came to London for the finale of it's six day road race and we were there.
Simon, Ed, Keith & Steve were waiting for me at NC for the ride to Holland Park via the Wandle Trail and Brompton Cemetery. Graham joined us for tea (a very reasonable 85p pot) and we set off for "Bike Fest 06" in The Mall.
This was a couple of dozen companies promoting their products by, in many cases, giving away free items (like the caravanne publicitaire on the TDF).
This proved a big draw to myself and the others but the usefulness of the giveaways was brought into question when a large pink inflatable hand was picked up from the T-mobile stand.
Better items included 2 TFL "gym bags", TDF London 2007 T-shirt, TFL bike computer, 2 bright red E-On (owner of Powergen) sun hats & a bottle of water.
Loaded up with freebies we headed to "The Man in the Moon "in Whitehall for two for one lunches.
The "racing" arm of the CTC joined us and with the race arrival imminent Ed & myself headed off back to Horse Guards road for a glimpse of the cyclists doing their best to win the stage or just keep up.
Tom Boonen won the stage with Martin Pedersen taking overall victory.
On the way back to our bikes, we somehow got ushered into the corporate hospitality area and found ourselves surrounded by wealthy, tanned and attractive people enjoying food and wine in warm sunshine. Resisting the temptation to join them we picked up complimentary programmes (£5) and left.
Special mention is deserved is for excellent organisation by TFL in particular the secure bike park arrangements (surely a dress rehearsal for next year's Tour).
Today's (Mon) Guardian seems to dwell on the serious collision of two motorbikes (police & race marshall) at the deviation in the final lap. Seven go to hospital but hopefully this will not effect London's start of the TDF next year.
Pictures included in this blog and can you spot Keith in the background?