FNRttC FNRttC London to Cambridge 20th August

StuAff

Silencing his legs regularly
Location
Portsmouth
Small point. The very kind "Man in a Van" who witnessed the crash dialled 999 and stayed with us for what seemed an age, finally gave up on the very stretched Ambulance service and ferried the injured party plus one and two bikes to hospital. :notworthy:


Not being used to "London Ways" does every street corner host a party every Friday night? :wacko: :eek:
Chapeau to that man! Even by big-city standards, Friday's nocturnal economy did seem somewhat overdrawn…
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
Well done all. That sounds like it ended up challenging to epic.
missed the next Kings Cross train, but not too long for another. Ended up in a vestibule again, there appear to be no actual cycle spaces on these trains.
Yes, there's only one, outside the accessible toilet but it's unmarked on most of them and vestibule use is expected and tolerated.

The Thameslink trains have big bike symbols and I think 6 bike spaces in 12 coaches and more are often tolerated off peak. The new Liverpool Street trains later this year have 8 bike spaces in 10, tolerance tbc.
 

mmmmartin

Random geezer
Stu,
Thanks for your usual great report, I love all the detail, it's a great way of bringing the event alive rather then simply saying that "we started, we finished", so please continue this.
I'm off on Tuesday to walk across Spain again and won't be back for several weeks but please keep up the good work with the reports, it's a great way for non participants to keep in touch 👋
 

Gordon P

There's no Calvados? I'll have a beer or a whisky
Location
London E3
Right…that was rather eventual, for the wrong reasons (ambulance required, though thankfully injuries appear to have been minor). We were rather late into the delightful Birchanger Services, again, but unlike last time we weren't sopping wet and only two felt inclined to bail at that point, not the entire ride. And it was a bit headwindy on the last stretch, though at least it was a good workout.

Back to the beginning/end of the evening. Late shift at work actually made a few minutes for once, but just for a change, there were delays on the trains…I wasn't sure how much time I'd have before the next Waterloo service, so opted to wait at the station rather than get changed first. Eventually got a train at about 2210- not sure if it was the 2008 or 2038 service…It ran on (delayed) time so into Waterloo at just after 2330, so no problem making it to the NT in bags of time for reintroductions and the safety talk. Nick made the usual entreaty to check tyres…

…Someone didn't listen. We set off a fraction early, and then came to a rapid halt. On Upper Ground (!) I spent 20-odd minutes waiting for the tail end, and the rest of the ride waited on Blackfriars Bridge, thanks to a deflation. Onwards, eventually, and mostly steady progress through many sets of lights and virus carriers on nights out (Delta variant? What Delta variant? It was having a jolly good spread that night). And then, Lea Bridge Road. Now, for those not familiar with the cycle routes being built in that London, this one is one of the prettiest in terms of design details, and one of the ugliest in terms of actual usability for vehicular cycling. A Dutch planner wouldn't have done it that way after half a dozen strong spliffs. Sharp angles where there should be curves. Twisty bits where there should be straight. Weird pointless changes of direction all over the shop. You have to be on your toes, or you'll come a cropper. And someone came a cropper. If I remember correctly the details relayed to the front of the ride, he missed a dropped kerb, caught a corner with his wheel, and went down hard. Fortunately, the rider was badly shaken but otherwise only minor injuries, ECG & CT checked out OK. Kim dropped out to look after him (she joined us in Cambridge for breakfast), Nick and Ross rejoined after about 40 minutes once the ambulance had arrived.

By this stage, we were obviously massively behind schedule. Nick and Claire took the decision to minimise faffage and to cut the Birchanger break short, or we'd be in Cambridge in time for brunch rather than breakfast. On into Essex. Quick loo stop at a garage in Epping remained a quick loo stop. Intended quiet photo op in Matching was…unmatched. Not for the last time on this ride, a TEC (@Elybazza61) suffered a fairy visit. We didn't get to Birchanger, its almost impenetrable pedestrian access (achieved by clambering across grass and high kerbs) and its mostly-closed retail options, until five. If you couldn't get it at WH Smith, you were out of luck. Rather than risk poor choice and epic queueing, I'd opted for a Morrisons meal deal, again. Nick decided to bail there, (as did @Mr Orange), so Claire became sole ride leader.

On we went after forty minutes or so, into the dawn, and our pace picked up somewhat, thankfully. The literal high point of the ride (400 ft!), after a very rolling route, came just before seven. There was a temporary split in the ride when a waymarker, under the impression the planned break into two groups had happened, left their post, so the actual tail end ended up taking a more direct route to make up time. Twenty minutes after that 'summit', we got to our final mid-ride stop, Flint Cross garage, about a dozen miles from breakfast. At this point, the original plan was to split the ride into 'speedy' (Claire) and 'full value' (Nick), to avoid swamping service at the cafe. New plan: 'speedy', 'slightly less speedy'. I forget who led the second group, but I joined the first as all-upper. It did what it said on the tin. Hard work, especially in what suddenly seemed like a fairly stiff headwind, but fun. I frequently lagged behind somewhat, but that was OK. By this stage, my GPS was giving me a nice countdown to that breakfast.

Into the city at about 8.15, so not much later than my last visit, thanks to the pace and lack of faffage. We swung by the station, and those who wanted to head straight for a train did so. On the last (lockdown, four distanced groups) ride here, I did that (after tea and a bacon roll from a van). I was determined to get a sit-down breakfast this time, despite the trip home. Then…all-upper had a fairy visit. I kid you not, half a mile from our destination. At first, I thought **** it and just rode anyway, easier to limp on and sort it at the cafe, but then then it got a bit too squishy, unrideable, so walked the last stretch. There are areas of Cambridge called Petersfield and Romsey. Nope, they're somewhat SW…

Espresso Library had opened at 8.00, so our 8.30 arrival time was no problem. For breakfast, I opted for builders' tea (a decent, four-cup pot), and rather splendid porridge (with chia seeds, nuts, banana and berry compote), even better than Picnic in Reading. And then, to sort out the American Patient. An (entirely unrepentant) confession: I don't fix punctures, through lack of practice- I prefer puncture-resistant tyres that generally do their job, and those puncture-resistant qualities do not lend themselves to getting tyres on and off, at least if you lack nous and brute force. Tried and failed to get wired Marathons on at home, had to limp Chutney home after punctures a couple of times (20 inch wheels are even worse). If at all possible, get a professional to do it. I do enough swearing already. Dave in my former LBS could fit a Durano Plus on with bare hands (no chance for me!). I still do what I can, anyway…So, time for some practice. Through-axle out easily as always, wheel out after some wrestling with the chain, then after a bit of a fight, the tyre and tube followed. Folding tyres in a larger size on a wider rim (and after a few years of hard use) are rather easier than the ones I've fought and lost against…No idea what caused the flat, I felt all round the inside of the tyre, nothing, nor any visible holes in the tube. The trusty mini pump had somehow become separated from its handle, but that screwed back on. Tube slightly inflated, I got it back on rim. @robjh kindly stepped in to help, and got the tyre back on without levers. Once inflated (usual reliable pump service resumed), there was a bit of fiddling before we got the correct alignment for that through axle to go back in, but job done.

I left @Gordon P (booked on a later train) and headed off to the station, via an Eric Morecambe route. Thanks to taking some of the wrong roads, missed the next Kings Cross train, but not too long for another. Ended up in a vestibule again, there appear to be no actual cycle spaces on these trains. And then, to Waterloo…eventually. Kingsway, Strand & Aldwych were closed due to pedestrianisation works (a long programme, but the switch of Aldwych to two-way traffic and the closure of Strand to vehicles was happening this weekend), so that meant a walk, and missing the noon train south. So the 1230 it was. Home just after two, and then a nap. Missing Blackpool (leave cancelled before I knew cycle reservations were, in fact, possible), and Barry (DJ Shadow that same night), but I'll be back for Shoreham. Thanks everyone!
I was amazed to learn that @StuAff had not fixed a punctured tire, given his significant mileage, and was largely unsympathetic "it's about time you learned" apart from supporting the frame while he fiddled the wheel out. @robjh was far more useful.
 

Gordon P

There's no Calvados? I'll have a beer or a whisky
Location
London E3
does every street corner host a party every Friday night?
In Shoreditch, yes
 

Outlaw Hobbs

Well-Known Member
Location
Herts
My thanks to all the hard-working Fridays team who make these events happen. Its easy to forget how much preparation has gone in. Special credit to Claire who had to step up as sole ride leader for much of the ride and did a great job plus managing to maintain a sense of humour throughout.

I hope that the rider who was unfortunate enough to come a cropper has not come to any serious harm. Riding at an angle up a kerb of a deceptive appearance in poor light……. we’ve all done it so no need to feel bad. A few minutes after the group set off from the scene, another rider went down in a similar way after straying up a low kerb defining the edge of the cycleway apparently unhurt.

As we headed out along the long straight road through Epping at increased pace, I was interested to see how low the temperature would go and if my kit choice was going mean ‘boil-in-the bag’ or ‘ass freezing’. Commuter style shoes, bib shorts, thin base layer, club jersey, soft shell jacket and racing mitts with silk inners proved to be just right for the minimum temperature of 12 degrees C in a nice tailwind interspersed with regular stops to waymark or re-group.

Properly out in the sticks traffic free, and on largely smooth roads is the essence of these rides and the especially convivial atmosphere added to the enjoyment. Leaving the Birchanger stop in daylight the next phase of the ride was livened up by the sudden and inexplicable racket from my ‘Basque road rocket’s’ fancy electronic transmission but only in the big ring much to the amusement of my long time riding buddy on his ‘Eroica’ Geoffrey Butler iron steed. Fate then stepped in and visited the p fairy on his front wheel. Both minor problems were sorted out in a similar timeframe and we carried on merrily; stopping every now and again to retrieve the Eroica’s frame mounted pump as it regularly made a bid for freedom.

The brief stop at a petrol station just outside Cambridge to re-group found everyone in high spirits like horses catching scent of the stables and we time-trialled it the last few miles to the DNA trail. Several of the Fridays stalwarts packing massively heavy panniers showed what they were made of by having no problems keeping up with those of us with no such impediments.

The Espresso Library lived up to expectations of up market trendiness and expense but I think we all enjoyed breakfast.

Having reluctantly canned plans to ride back owing to dire predictions of biblical rain we made our way near to the station and celebrated the lesser achievement of a one-way trip with some fine ales. The temptation for a repeat performance at the John Betjeman in St Pancras was overwhelming. Mr Eroica headed off to Marylebone to catch his train back to Oxford whilst I hit the Thameslink platform two minutes before the next fast train arrived to whisk me back to Hertfordshire with only a five-minute ride in light rain to contend with. Mr Eroica was less fortunate almost drowning after leaving the station.

Strava reveals that our intrepid ride leader went on to ride back to the Fenlands recording a massive 135 miles that’s outstanding.

We’ll be back. But remember the ride's not over until the washing ups done.

605711
 
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