To cycle in London can be a tricky and sometimes scary affair. We have done it a couple of times and each ride has left us a little frustrated. The cycle superhighways have definitely helped commuters and other cyclists getting around the city although we have heard at during rush hour, they could be busier than the actual roads! But it's the horrendous traffic which can really spoil a day out on the bike in the capital. So if you are an early bird like us, set your alarm for sunrise on a Sunday morning and you will find the city will become your playground!
*Special acknowledgement must go to Sam Hodges aka @smhdgs who showed us the way to some hidden city climbs and got us back in one piece!
NITP Ride Breakdown:
0-10miles: Beginning at the iconic national rugby stadium of Twickenham, unless there are roadworks or an emergency of some sort, you will fly all the way through Brentford and Chiswick, through Hammersmith and into central London. Do be careful of the roundabout in Hammersmith, roads will be quiet but it's a 4 lane nightmare in rush hour but you will taking the second exit heading towards Kensington. You'll pass Olympia and then head left before Hyde Park. Follow the road to the right and head towards Paddington for the one of the most poular spots for the city cyclist.
TT Challenge #1: Isleworth Fire Station - Kew Bridge, 4.1km
10-20miles: In this section, you'll be heading towards Regents but even at this time in the morning, be extra vigilant as you will crossing the a40. Regents have a number of entrances into the ring road but we thought it would be nice to tick off another national stadium. Get your camera out as you pass the home of English cricket in the form of Lords. We've pencilled in the London Zoo entrance but like we said before, there are other roads which divert you into the park. You should really just have some local club rides as company and it's best to ride anti-clockwise so you don't need to cross any traffic. If you fancy a beverage, there is a cafe in the middle but this is London, you are surrounded by coffee stops! Stay for one lap or stay for 20 but when you're done, make sure you've recovered as you're heading towards the main test of the ride. Head north of Camden and you will eventually find yourself at the bottom of Swains Lane. A very popular climb for the London wheelers, it's got a wall so make sure you read our review first before you tackle it.
TT Challenge #2: Regents Park CCW, 4.3km
Polka Dot Challenge #1: Swains Lane, Highgate, 0.9km, 19% max
20-30miles: The climbing does not stop there. This part of the capital is quite lumpy but the next climb is as gentle as they come and the view is so worth it. Alexandra Palace is the home of the world darts championships along with being a great venue for music. But the view back across the city is what brings riders up here. There is often a farmers market at the bottom of the hill so there's an option for a brew and a treat before you head back into the city. It's literally a straight shot back down into central but you'll be passing another iconic stadium in the shape of the Emirates where Arsenal play (we follow Fulham here but we can tolerate the gooners!). The roads may start to become more busier now as people start to recover from their Saturday night hangovers. There's plenty of sightseeing to do still on this route. Take a detour to the very surreal district of the Barbican or continue to head towards the river for the main sights of London
Polka Dot Challenge #2: Alexandra Palace, 1km, 9.5% max
30-40miles: Choose to cruise this section as you take in the sights and sounds of our bustling capital. The tourists will be out in force so be wary when using the superhighways, not everyone knows how they work! You might even be able to throw in a few sprints between the traffic lights and bridges, the surface is mostly decent with the CS painted in blue and in most places a good width to keep you safe. Put your posh cap on as you spin through Chelsea and Fulham before you pass through Putney onto Richmond Park for another city gem. Here, you can choose what you want to do, we've planned in this route some figure of 8's so you can see the whole park in all its glory from all angles.
Polka Dot Challenge #3: Queens Road, Richmond Park 0.8km, 4.8% max
50-53miles: If you've got the legs, stay in the park for some more laps or if you want a final test, find Nightingale Lane opposite Richmond Hill Hotel, it's like a mini Swains. Richmond is full of cafes or if you want to avoid the bustling town, head towards Twickenham where Church Street has some quaint little cafes tucked away.
Maillot Vert Challenge: Marble Hill Sprint, 0.3km