When we told friends that we were going away for Easter and taking the bikes, everyone assumed we meant either Scotland, the Lake District or somewhere equally as scenic with lots of mud and hills to climb. Imagine their surprise when we said we were taking Mountain Bikes on the train down to London and staying in a hotel. Comments ranged from ‘You’re mad’ to ‘What on earth do you need mountain bikes for in London’ however we refused to be deterred. A recent article on a blog I follow had inspired me, the author spoke about riding through London crossing the river Thames on all accessible bridges. This set a chain reaction off in my head and I began to hatch a plan……
I wanted to ride out to Greenwich to play in Greenwich Park
I wanted to ride through the financial district when the normal machinations of the city had shut down for the weekend
I wanted to explore the Thames path and use in for normally unseen vistas of famous London landmarks
I wanted to ride through the royal parks and explore Hampstead Heath, and finally to the exasperation of my long suffering riding partner in crime Al
I wanted to climb the hills around Highgate to prove that hill climbs are possible in London
So did my plan come together? – Yes it did
We explored the sights and sounds of London that we have never encountered on our normal city breaks. We rode out to Greenwich, exploring backstreets and unknown paths on the way. We returned via the city using the empty streets, like something out of a horror movie as a giant playground, cutting through alleys and ginnels normally heaving with city workers.
We rode through paths to Hampstead Heath to play on its grassy hills fueled by fantastic coffees and bagels from Brick Lane. I swear I even saw Al smiling as I pedalled away from him uphill on secretly discovered road climbs.
A surprising side effect of our adventures was discovering restaurants and cafes away from the normal tourist beaten path that sated our hunger from all the miles in our legs, places that we would otherwise not have discovered.
3 days. 68 miles ridden, we both now feel like we have seen a side of London that we want to explore more and so the planning begins once again….