Fifteen Bridges

Sarah Papas

15th January 2006

This plot was hatched in the deep of winter, and was intended to provide a ride reasonably proof against the vagaries of the weather by staying within London; having so many bridges within reach, it seemed a shame not to cross lots of them, giving the ride a theme as well as plenty of sightseeing opportunities.

Accordingly Les Channing volunteered as a new Road Captain to lead the ride, with me helping out. Several reconnaissance trips were undertaken before we were confident that we had a viable route, and even then it was subject to last minute alteration in case of road works. We also visited the refreshment stops to make sure that they were open and willing to help out. We planned for 10-15 bikes as a maximum, with possibly half that in case of bad weather. Little did we know!

Sunday dawned dry and clear, with damp roads remaining from overnight rain. Briefing at Warr’s was at 10am, so I planned to get there about 9.45 - and on arrival there were already more people than we were expecting in all! By 10am there were over 30 bikes and nearly 40 people, taking advantage of some recent Christmas presents and the unseasonably warm weather. This was turning into a much bigger ride than anticipated... Never mind, adapt, adopt and survive! Amongst the gathering throng was the usual mix of faces old and new, experience balancing enthusiasm, blah blah. At least with a route of only 35 miles, nobody would have to stop for fuel.

So off we went, along the north side of the Thames as far as Tower Bridge. Then after crossing the bridge and being careful to obey the camera-enforced 20mph speed limits, it was turn right to get back to London Bridge. We then crossed and re-crossed the Thames back as far as Chelsea Bridge, followed by a coffee stop in a very busy Battersea Park. Suitably refreshed it was off into increasingly heavy traffic to our eventual destination at the Steam Museum just north of Kew Bridge; we had driven over 15 bridges; the sixteenth, Battersea, re-opened after repairs on 16th January, the day after the ride.

michael and les

Mucho thanks to Les for leading so well, and for Andy Reynolds for doing Last Man duties. My role as roving marshal meant that I got to stop and take some photos as well as check on general progress.

I hope that the success of this run is a good omen for the year; despite getting cold after lunch the rain held off, so it was another Chelsea & Fulham ‘dry run’ completed.

For the sightseers amongst us, did you spot (in no particular order): Cleopatra’s Needle, the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, Boadicea on her chariot, Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, Big Ben, MI6, QVC (for the shopaholics), The London Dungeon, County Hall and the London Eye, or Chelsea Hospital?

Michael Howers - C&F Road Captain