London Nightride 2011

Mission Accomplished!

And what a ride it was, despite the excitement of variously discovering our rear lights were slightly out when we changed luggage plans at the last minute and having a bolt work loose which detached the upper stokers bars early in the ride.  The one thing which did perform throughout were our bluetooth Scala headsets, which were a definite help in keeping the team tandem spirits up.

There was a great sense of urgency and of a team event as we pressed on through the night.  One could be in no doubt of being in a city environment, the biggest delaying factors were jams and traffic lights, despite this being an overnight ride.  It's hard for me to single out any one particular moment, I was enjoying every moment of the ride and felt as though I was warming up as we progressed, perhaps peaking around the fifty five mile mark.  The breaks rolled around with regularity and it surprised me how much I could eat.  It was a real luxury to have various snacks available at the breaks and the mechanic from Druid Bicycles was patient and managed to improvise a safety strapping with cable tie and sticky plaster for the bars when we pulled up near Tower Bridge for the first break point.

The climb to Alexandra Palace was special, with the "rosie fingers of dawn" just visible over London to the South as we consumed our hot dog and bacon and egg baps!  No real need for coffee as the buzz of the ride and the exercise kept us awake.  I was filled with respect for the cyclist we met there who managed the climb with just one leg, having a prosthesis for the other.  Not only that, but he has already completed a 32 mile ride that morning, with a brief nap in the afternoon then on to the Nightride, making his total mileage over a hundred within 24 hours!

The descent from there through Hampstead was one I had experienced before, and but not on a tandem.  There was definitely something extra to be had from the descent with company, and it was interesting that an aerodynamic recumbent joined us during the descent and our idling speeds were comparable. 

Approaching the last ascent I suddenly realised that the walking riders we had just passed on the pavement were another tandem team!  I braked to a halt and we said hello - then got to hear their story.  These two young ladies had travelled down from Scotland on the Friday to collect a hired tandem they had never ridden before for the event!  Not only that, they were staying some ten miles from the start point and had been assured they could take the tandem there by bus!  I don't think so!  Having managed to walk and ride to the start they had set off and at the point we were completing our ride they were still shy of the half way mark!  We had to admire their spirit of adventure, but I really hope they called in for help and got taken back to the start before the weather closed in later on the Sunday.  Whatever became of them their adventure was surely something they will remember; I just hope it does not put them off tandem riding in future.

We plan to write up a better account than this one, but I wanted to lay out some of my impressions and memories early.

From our cycle computer we know we managed about seventy miles with 5:45 riding time, keeping an average of almost 12 mph.  I'm quite happy with that given that the event was a leisure ride and we were aiming to enjoy ourselves, which I think we did, possibly more than we could have hoped for.  The weather staying dry was a big help, the break stations and marshals were great and gave things a real team spirit, and the public we met along the way were generally great about it too.