Posts Tagged ‘River Thames cycle path’

 standing upI was astonished to find a large ugly bruise appear on my leg days after those killer hills .  On the inner thigh of my right leg.  I was so surprised.  The shape is like an arc, about seven or more inches long!  I took a photo of it to show the instructors.  They said I should change my boyfriend!!  But also said it might be to do with the saddle but my saddle is quite comfortable.  I felt no pressure whilst riding.  But I’m sure those killer hills and cycling all day last week had an effect. I’m just not used to it yet.


Anyway, this week I felt really really tired all over my body so I cancelled my personal cycling session during the week despite protestations of ‘mind over matter’ and ‘don’t waste the effort you’ve already put in’.  I just could not face it.


 Never mind that bruise, today I wanted to ride my bicycle so I cycled to training via the high street.  The bruise didn’t affect my cycling at all.  In fact, I was so pleased with myself now that I can cycle along the high street, albeit a very short one.  With my usual smile on my fabarrierce instead of contortions,  remembering to peep and creep at the junctions if I had to stop or continue if nothing was coming, I enjoyed it. 


Peeping and creeping is when you slow right down at a junction but can’t see because of the parked cars, so you stop, peep and creep out slowly until you can see behind the parked cars to turn either left or right. I wish I was quick as my instructor in getting pedal ready and setting off because I feel pressured to turn when cars are behind me and I’m still a bit slow even though now I don’t wobble.

For a change we cycled in the opposite direction along the Thames to the Royal Arsenal Gardens.  It’s very elegant, opened in 2000 and built on the site of a power station. It includes a conservation meadow with wild flowers, stone sculptures and a skateboard park.  We practised standing up but the bike wobbles and becomes unstable.  However the instructor says that it might help me get up those hills.  I really need that. 
Last week, when we met those other cyclists on their day out, we cycled on the other side of the Thames.   This week, we explored this side of the Thames Barrier further down from The Royal Arsenal Gardens.   A lovely flat wide paved cycle path.  Thank god it’s flat!  I say it again.  Thank god it’s flat! No cars, no traffic and no junctions and more importantly no hills.  Quite scenic, twists and turns and with ramps and so on. Very pleasant and enjoyable on this sunny day.
At the Barrier, we couldn’t find a ramp to cycle down to get a closer view. We had to carry our cycles down steps and then cycle through a tunnel.   We stopped at the cafe. It was daylight robbery!  £4 for a sandwich!  We agreed that the other side of the Thames had a better view and facilities for cyclists.
I cycled home whilst wondering if  another bruise would show,  wondering if the bruise I had was due to the saddle or something else and wondering whether I would recover in time for my personal cycling training in a few days time!

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cycle-network-1I saw these three funky mileposts whilst cycling along the River Thames.  They mark the Millennium and the creation of the National Cycle Route No. 1 that spans from Dover through London up to John O’Groats, which is Scotland’s most northerly place in Britain.  Now, that famous saying ‘from Land’s End to John O’Groats’ springs to mind.  

Hey.. that would make a great cycling trip…following along the said route!

 What fun.  Well… no harm in dreaming… but maybe in the very long term … maybe… there are so many possibilties.  Errr, London to Paris… Land’s End to John O’Groats…. Triathlon….Hmmm…  

Anyway back to reality and mileposts.  On one of the mileposts it says there are 1000 of these.  So I’ve found three along the route in Woolwich and Erith sections.  I wonder where all the others are!  997 to go!

Hands Off!


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alleyEven though I was very tired, knackered in fact, I wanted to ride my bicycle  so I did.  Following the route to the Thames, I came across this path. I wouldn’t cycle that route in the dark especially as it seems to be little more than an alleyway.


I followed the route I did last week, with the narrow green cycle path, anticipating hazards e.g. ‘door zones’ of all the parked cars, glancing down minor roads. But another hazard are the bollards as cars can’t overtake with bollards in the middle of the road.  So I either slow down to let them pass, speed up or keep in my primary position until they have the space to over take.  But it was very quiet, no buses or any other cyclists and few cars.


I was pleased with myself  for looking behind three times before moving out as the road curved. As I knew the route, I lowered the gears to climb up the dual carriageway slope/bridge although I didn’t signal at the huge four way roundabout as I felt a bit wobbly but there was minimal traffic and I connected with the ‘eyes’ of the drivers as my instructors taught me.



saracenGot on the Thames path, saw the remnants of Arsenal, but it started to drizzle so I tried to find a short cut home to avoid getting soaked, (got to get some waterproofs)using one the exits of the Thames but got lost and came across this lake in the middle of another housing estate.


lakeIt seems as though there are a large number of canals and lakes around here which has something to do with the Thames and this area being a former industrial area and marshes.  There were swans and herons, birds chirping in the trees, very peaceful and quiet. But it lead to another dreaded dual carriageway.  The juxposition of the peaceful like countryside in the middle of a housing estate surrounded by the concrete dual carriageways and underpasses seems odd to me!

So I doubled back, cycled up and down the Thames Path looking for another exit, asked a policeman the way back, only to find on following his directions lead me to a monstrosity of a concrete jungle of busy dual carriageways and bridges at the top of a hill in all directions.  Too tired to face another uphill slog, I got off Saracen and walked. 


Past the monstrosity, I thought theres got to be another way home so I explored and found two short cuts under underneath those monstrosities.  Well pleased with myself but I was so tired, really knackered! All that cycling for hours but I got home just before it started to rain!

Cycling & TV Adverts

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cycle-laneBicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my Saracen                         I want to ride my Saracen
I want to ride my Saracen                      
I want to ride it where I like

Both nervous and very excited, I took Saracen out onto the streets this morning.  I cycled through the lower back streets (no hills).  I thought I’d go through some back streets to explore  (relatively new to this area). Some were dead ends, others were industrial areas.  

On these quiet streets, I slowed down, but didn’t come to a complete stop, (as these Victorian streets are narrow with parked cars on both sides), to let oncoming cars through,  looked left/right and slowed down early enough so I didn’t have to stop at the junctions if nothing was approaching.  Cycled in the middle of the road to avoid the ‘door zone’ of parked cars.

Double backed and decided to cycle the Thames Path that the instructors had shown me when I was alone at christmas

The above photo is of the cycle path in the direction of the Thames and parallel as well as an alternative to that 10% hill! Its very narrow and due to the parked cars seems to be of no good use!!  Had to avoid the ‘door zone’ and therefore cycled in the middle of the road where necessary.

At the entrance to the Thames Cycle Network Path, I cycled up that slope with gusto! I couldn’t manage that before! So happy to reach the Thames. thames-path-tarmaced This is futuristic looking building is the Crossness Incinerator plant.  A mile or so past this is the Victorian Sewage Works which has recently been restored to its former glory and in direct contrast to this space age sewage plant.  You can smell it a mile off!

I don’t know what purpose these barriers serve on this long stretch of tarmaced path!  


Several miles later, the tarmaced path turned into a dirt gravel track, still with sludges of snow/ice.  Then the realisation hit me!  Saracen was getting all dirty and muddy.  Oh dear!  So that’s what the instructors meant when they said I would have to wash and clean my bike.  My response to that was quite reluctant!  But I looked at bike whilst riding.  Dirty.. muddy.  Mmmm…  I  then made a conscious effort to avoid riding through dog mess cos I certainly didn’t want to clean that up! This colourful signage has some details on which I’ll get next time but Saracen likes to take photos!


pavedresting After a few miles, the path widens and is paved. In the far distance you can see Canary Wharf and other such buildings.  There are lots of places to rest and enjoy the River and its business in the peace and quiet.

I cycled miles on and then doubled back but not as far as the Smelly Futuristic  Building, got off before that, via another exit and then spent hours finding my way home, avoiding the dual carriageways and that hill.

Eventually, I  recognised my location and got home.  I was especially pleased with myself that I managed to cycle up the gentle slopes, of which there were quite a few!  I must have cycled miles and my thighs were absolutely aching but as they say no pain no gain and I rode my bicycle!

Get Set, Get Ready, Go!

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trainingToday was an excellent day. I took more account of the weather so I didn’t have to strip off  but I couldn’t wear my lovely hat that matched my jacket because of the helmet! Anyway neither were there any hills but more left and right turns from minor to major roads.  Thank God.  I bemoaned the hills last week but as ever they were very encouraging and said I was too hard on myself.  It was my first time, after all.


I felt so confident doing the ‘t’ loop;  that is moving out and positioning a metre from the middle lane, turning right, signalling right, making choices about the traffic, positioning correctly at the junction, accelerating, slowing down again to do a U turn and turning left. Then repeating the whole thing for hours. 


Sometimes I didn’t even stop at the junction, just went straight across because no traffic was coming. Even if traffic was coming, I’d judge how far/speed and do a U-turn and signal right before they caught up with me!  I even got an ‘excellent’ from the instructors. Wow and wow again!!


I told them about my knees and got a lesson in revolutions!  You have to demonstrate. You have to show me because I have no idea what you’re talking aboutSo one instructor held the bike steady, I got on and put one  foot on one pedal and he indicated that the knee and something on the bike(can’t remember what) should be horizontal or was that 90 degrees.  No, I think it was the knee and the ‘thing’ on the bike should be at 90 degree… that revolutions is how many full turns the pedal does (?).


They elaborated on pedalling by pushing downstroke or was it by pointing the toes forward and pushing back?  Also something about pedalling fast/slow in conjunction with gears. I should have (???) per minute revolutions!  Mmmm… Right… Okay.  That’s more research to do to fully understand the implications of what they were saying.


thames-pathThen we went for a ride through the back streets and back to the base via the Thames where I got up some speed for a few seconds (!) with the instructors and also managed to stand up over a sleeping policeman.  Well pleased with myself today!

Uphill Slog Part 2

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women-cyclingjpegHooray!! I passed Level 2.

Wrapped up warmly with my new thermals, thick jumper, overcoat, two pairs of socks, boots, scarf and a hat under my helmet, I turned up at Cycle Training, the last week before Christmas.  I was the only one, alone at Christmas, the last lesson before the holidays, and guess what? I got to choose what to do.  Jumping around like an excited pupppy, I asked to go on the Thames  riverfront. I was delighted and I had three, yes three instructors all to myself!

I lead the way! Behind me, Jake shouting out instructions as usual. We set off along the dual carriageway in the cycle lane, pass the speeding cars, then along the High Street pass the parked cars, stopping in the correct position at the traffic lights, to the right of the buses, cycled straight ahead (hey, I can cycle in a straight line!) pass the roundabout and up a slight hill but then, I had to stop as I was getting very hot and tired. What a lack of stamina! 

I made an excuse that my gears wouldn’t change to a lower gear so I could have a rest.  I took off my jumper and hat and Jake put it in his panniers.  This week was not as cold as the week before. You can never tell what the weather is going to be like!  Cycling certainly warms you up.

We cycled for what felt like miles, came across a huge roundabout where I was supposed to signal right but for some reason my hands were stuck to the handlebars.  Jake then took the lead and we passed industrial looking buildings and came upon the path for the riverfront. 

I was knackered.  I had to dismount and push the bike up the short slope to get to the riverfront.  Get on the bike. Come on. You can do. They encouraged me but it was to no avail, I determinedly pushed the bike up the slope. 

Jake then said I was cycling too fast about 13 mph along the main roads. What I should have done is cycle about 10 mph and then I would be able to cycle longer and not get so tired until I build up my stamina.  But cycling on the major roads was quite nerve wrecking. Although I felt both excited at the element of danger (!) and thrilled, there, I didn’t want to hold the cars up so I tried to cycle quickly.

Along the riverfront was definitely more relaxing.  It was the first time I had been out that way. I could slow down, enjoy the view, enjoy cycling, enjoy exploring. No traffic, just one or two joggers and other cyclists along the gravel and then tarmaced paths. Jake laughed when I said it was a long way – about eight miles in total.  That’s absolutely nothing to him but anyway I was knackered and elated to have passed Level 2! Hooray.  Can you believe that? Now its time to get a bike but where shall I put it?  I know I’ll miss cycling until next year.

What To Do When You’re Depressed

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Journey Planner

Chatting to Leon, one of the instructors during lesson break, I learned about the Transport for London’s cycle routes. So I eagerly tinkered around with TFL website after class to find out more about our previous Thames riverside cycle paths and was amazed to see that their cycle route included a  bicycle moving, actually cycling along the route after I clicked on the ‘cycle only’ and ‘wizard’ options.

Such fun! I watched it studiously, enjoying the vicarious cycling and plan to use it when I’m more confident and experienced and with bike! Its soooo funny!  This goes in my ‘Thing To Do When Not Cycling’ category. I’m really impressed! Seems like London is really promoting cycling. Enjoy virtual cycling!

Cycling major roads


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