In recent years WNBR London has had multiple start points. We regularly have over 1,000 riders so it would be hard to fit you all in one place. This also means you can choose a convenient location. But, wherever you start, all groups converge to form one peloton that can be around 4Km long when stretched out! This post talks about how to choose your start point.
So, what considerations might you have?
- Convenient location
- Transport links (train/tube/bus)
- Bike hire locations
- Length of ride
- Scenic / sightseeing opportunities
- Where your friends are starting from
- Opportunity for social time before ride
- Crowds vs Small Group
- Public vs Private
- Minimising spectators and photographers
Kew Bridge is the longest ride at 17¾ miles (28½ Km). It tends to attract a small group of enthusiastic cyclists. The ride crosses the meandering Thames five times before joining in with the Clapham Junction start. Altogether you should get to cross the Thames eight times! The ride starts from the southbound roadside at the north end of the bridge. This means there is nowhere to socialise or do body painting – and no point in arriving early. It is a relatively small group of riders.
Clapham Junction is very convenient for the train connections, after all, it is the biggest junction and has the most trains passing through – over 2,000 on weekdays. Our start point is alongside the station (Platform 1 side) in a fairly small public square, so there is no time for socialising or body painting. The overall route is 9 miles (14½ Km).
Deptford is new for 2019. At 10⅓ miles (16⅔ Km) it is another fairly long ride, crossing two of the best Thames bridges,Tower Bridge and London Bridge, before joining the other groups. The start is at Matchstick Piehouse, a theatre, café and bar. It is a private location which means you can arrive early to socialise, do bodypainting, eat pies and drink.
The other rides are relatively easy rides into the centre.
Tower Hill is arguably the most scenic ride, starting alongside the Tower of London, crossing four bridges, riding alongside the river, passing through Trafalgar Square and Westminster. It’s handy for London Bridge, Waterloo, Charing Cross, Fenchurch St and Liverpool St stations. We use a reasonably large public park, so it is possible to arrive early, picnic, socialise and do body painting. Because it is a public space there will be onlookers and photographers. The ride from here is about 7¾ miles (12½ Km).
Hyde Park is the best known starting point and always attracts large crowds (including photographers), so those riders need to enjoy being in a crowd! Each year we have to agree details with the Royal Parks (and the Parks’ Police), but we expect to be able to gather early enough for socialising and bodypainting. Being a large group of riders, it tends to move slowly. It is a short route at just over 7½ miles (12¼ Km).
Regents Park is an easy ride down through the centre of town, and particularly good if you are bringing your bike in via Euston or Kings Cross stations. The Royal Parks do not give us permission to start from the Park, so we start roadside instead. There has not been a problem with people visiting the park before the start, but do not get naked, do bodypainting or look like you are lining up for the start! This is the shortest route at just under 7½ miles (12 Km).
This year, unfortunately, we have been unable to agree starts at Kings Cross or West Norwood.
All the routes merge for the core part of the route, from Westminster Bridge onwards, to form the 1,000+ rider peloton (which always moves at a safe, comfortable pace and gets stuck a bit).
If you are worried about how far you can cycle, bear in mind that you can choose to finish any time you want to. You don’t have to do the full course to show your support for the campaign.
Start points and routes may be subject to change due to unforeseen traffic conditions on the day so riders should check the exact locations and details on the WNBR London website, FaceBook pages or Twitter feed.