For some time I’d fancied having a go at the London Borough Spiral Ride. It follows a route planned out by a user named Earthloop on the London Fixed-gear and Single-speed forums. Not sure why I came across it as I don’t ride a fixed gear bike. Regardless of that once I found it I had set on having a go at some opportune time.
That time arrived on January 2nd. It was a lovely day. The sun was shining. The sky was blue. No wind. Perfect for a good long ride. I decided that morning to have a crack at it. Got myself ready and was off. Not much prep really. Just some cash to buy food and drink along the way. I’d cleaned and lubed the bike the day before and was confident it would go the distance without any mechanical mishaps.
I rode up to the start in Sidcup from my home in Chatham which added another 26 miles to the route. As the name suggests the ride spirals around the outer London boroughs into the inner boroughs ending at Trafalgar Square.
Earthloop did a great job in the planning. I would never have found the time nor the inclination to have done it myself. The route took me through all 32 boroughs just once and skimmed the edges of the Square Mile before ending in Westminster. I was a bit unsure if I was going to touch Hackney the closer to the end I got but looking at the maps I’m content that it did.
It was of course interesting to note the changing architectural landscape and the diverse demographics populating each area. Taking in all the boroughs in one day highlighted the diversity which we all know that London accommodates but perhaps don’t fully appreciate when seen in isolation of each other. Very distinct differences from south to west, west to east, and north to south in buildings, layout and people.
In terms of the ride; the hardest bit was the drag out to Havering. It felt at that point I should have ridden into London but was in fact riding out towards its nether regions. Fairly dull wide open spaces. Quite how it made the cut to become a London Borough I’ll never know. Highlights for me was the last quarter stage from around Clapham Common and into the centre. It was dark by the time I got that far so it was not so much the scenery but riding through the busy roads that made it for me. I’m one of those apparently rare types who enjoy playing in the traffic. The Woolwich Ferry across the Thames was a bit of a bonus too.
I set out from Chatham at about 8.30 am and arrived in Trafalgar Square at about 8.00pm. I stopped for food and munchies three times along the way. A fuel station in South Croydon and another near Dollis Road in Barnet. A brief respite on the ferry and the last stop at a snack bar on Clapham Common before the final push to the finish. In total I did just a touch over 136 miles from Chatham to Trafalgar Square.
Really pleased to have the opportunity to do this and especially at the start of the year. One of my best rides yet. Not the fastest, longest or most scenic but certainly one I feel great about having achieved. I had thought about riding back to Kent. I caved in. Took a quick ride to Victoria and got the train home.