Lee Valley/Epping Forest ride report
- Jim met me at Ladywell Fields, then a swift ride to Cutty Sark Gardens.
a strong rider so we overtook several other riders on the way but couldn't
help noticing that he rang his bell every time he was about to pass one and
gave them room. If only some of the macho pratts on the canal towpath later
could do the same. Well enough grumbling for the start of a report - it was
a glorious day and we found another 10 out to join us by the river. Maybe
the summer's not yet gone.
After a bit of discussion Junior dropped out, not wanting to risk his narrow
racer tyres on the Lee Valley towpaths and the mild off-road to come in
Epping Forest. Check the info on the web site and the email list - we
usually try to remember to give guidance on suitable bikes for each ride.
So 11 of us carried our bikes down to the Greenwich foot tunnel - despite
the lengthy recent closure, the southerly lift was out of order. Thankfully
the northern one was still working.
We took it easy up the Limehouse Cut, paused at Three Mills for a puncture
to be fixed, at Springfield Marina for a short natter, then headed
northwards. Soon afterwards the phone rang - a crash under one of the
bridges had apparently entangled Jane, Karen and both of their bikes in some
form of devilish puzzle.
Best to slow to a near halt under those bridges and don't ride too close -
the crossways ridges are pretty bad but almost worse are the deceptively
gentle ones where the separate tiles can pull your wheels off course,
particularly with narrow tyres. Some of the corners are pretty blind as
No serious injuries though, bikes remarkably unscathed and Karen's
super-powered twin front Halfords lights (yes really - they do some good
stuff) were later reassembled.
On we ambled. Roy manfully fixed another puncture and a Cyclaire pump (the
clever thing you pull a string on to inflate the tyre) was deployed to get
us going again.
I'd intended to stop at the Sun in Waltham Abbey but we were making such
gentle progress that I was concerned that we'd hit the Sunday crowds if we
got to Waltham Abbey too late so decided on an earlier stop a few miles
short. Decent pub, decent beer, though McMullens can be an acquired taste,
and straightforward food, but too late I realised that we had vegetarians
with us and I couldn't retract my order. Others didn't fancy a Sunday roast.
So lunch was a split-site affair, some of us staying at the pub for solid
and liquid lunches and others heading up to the Cafe half a mile further
north. We joined them later. When I reccied the ride a few days before I was
surprised to find the Cafe still there as it's apparently due to be hit by
redevelopment. A third puncture was fixed at lunch - unless I imagined it -
they were starting to blur a little.
At Waltham Abbey some went inside (must go myself sometime) while the rest
of us chilled on the grass next to King Harold's supposed tomb underneath
the old altar.
After Waltham Abbey the only real climbing of the day which slowed us up a
bit, then down through the forest on a mixture of generally quiet roads and
hard beaten tracks. I had a vague plan to stop at the pub in the forest or
at the snack hut where the rather ageing motorcyclists hang out, but we
needed to bat on.
At Chingford where there was an optional drop-out for a swift train ride
back to Hackney or Liverpool Street, everyone gamely elected to carry on.
The quiet signed route from Chingford back to the Lee Valley near
Walthamstow is a marvel of twists and turns and I was worried that we'd lose
someone but we made pretty good progress and stuck together. Then down
Coppermill Lane. Swinging left to avoid the risk of decapitation at that
awful bridge we cruised along the top of Walthamstow Marshes.
Round the side of Hackney Marshes (congrats to Hackney council for winning
against the mighty Nike's attempt to win a bit of street cred - we know all
about you Nike), a failed attempt by me to interest folks in a mild
diversion by the waterside rather than taking the high path, we came out at
the complicated road junction near Eastway. In view of the lack of vim for a
genteel pootle along a grassy bank I thought better of the idea to hoist
bikes over a barrier so that we could ride the ridge above the old Hackney
Stadium, soon to be the heart of Olympic-land.
Back to the canal, a very short bit of repetition, then along the Hertford
Union to Mile End Park. Some had to head for home but a fair bunch of us
chose to lounge outside the Palm Tree pub, enjoying the last of the sun. A
great pub, though the landlady may well not have appreciated me comparing
the rich shaded interior to a brothel. Meant in the best possible way but
despite Jane's game efforts to loudly proclaim the merits of the
brothel-look I may have to put my darker shades on if I choose to return any
Thanks to Roy for helping with punctures, Ray for brake adjustments at
Waltham Abbey and thanks to everyone for coming.
Next Saturday (September 16) Ian's ride to Southend. Come and join us -
details at www.lewishamcyclists.net
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