The purlieus of London are littered with hidden sights, I’ve spied kingfishers at the end of Heathrow’s approach, mysterious tunnels and grottos, giraffes in hedgerows, maps to purgatory, creeks, palaces, majestic redwood avenues, amazing views, the list just goes on and on, and that’s without mentioning the wide variety of brilliant gravel cycling.
I’ve spent months discovering and putting together routes along paths and bridleways in broad swathes of outer London. The majority of these are remarkably easy to access using the labyrinthine bike friendly Overground and Thameslink railway networks, so don’t stick to the easy same old same old week in and week out, get out there and explore…
These Saturday morning rides start from a different railway station every week, for example one week we’ll meet in North London, another in the southwest. I’ve planned the meeting points for rides for the 4 weeks ahead and these are listed on our calendar as is the GPX route I’ll be intending to follow.
Not only will this let you explore more of London’s backwaters but allows me to choose routes most suitable for the prevailing conditions. For example, in January most of the natural single tracks are mud fests, hard tedious old slogs across horse churned bridleways, so I’ve chosen to explore rides that are generally on compacted gravel, not the most technically challenging ride, I agree, but at least you won’t be extracting the mud monster from your bike every half mile.
Later in the year, as the trails dry out the rides will shift to longer routes with more natural single track.
“Do I have to be uber fit?”
The rides are normally about 15 to 20 miles long, taken at a steady conversational pace. 20 miles sounds scary to some but spread over 3 to 4 hours its approx. 5 to 7 miles an hour, which is doable by most reasonably fit riders. That said, these are social rides, and no one will be left behind.
“And what sort of bike?”
Any off-road bike, that’s a MTB, gravel bike or cyclocross bike, the important thing is that it’s fitted with suitable tyres and is in good condition.
“Remind me, where can I find out where the rides start?”
The meeting points for the rides for the next 4 weeks are listed on our calendar.
And finally, I’ve limited the numbers of each ride to 8 people, I find it’s a good number, remaining social without overwhelming the trail, but it does mean that you have to book online in advance.
These rides are a wonderful way to visit parts of London that you’d never dream of considering, finding stuff you’d never thought existed, have a look at the calendar and give one a go!