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Lee Valley/Epping Forest ride report

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  • jon taylor
    Jim met me at Ladywell Fields, then a swift ride to Cutty Sark Gardens. Jim s a strong rider so we overtook several other riders on the way but couldn t help
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 13, 2006
      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
      time soon.

      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

      Sign up to the email list for any last minute news on rides.

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