We rode and we was big

After spending an evening in the tumble dryer, and a few hours sleep, I’m now in a position to report on the London Cycling Campaign’s Big Ride.

For us in Greenwich the day started at 09:30, with some 40 cyclists assembled in Cutty Sark Gardens for the feeder ride along the Thames Path into central London. Bikes were decorated with LCC flags, hugs and handshakes exchanged, and before long we headed west. It was slow progress along the Thames Path, and within a kilometre we lost one of our number to a puncture.

But this loss of a rider was the only significant problem,… ignoring as one does the odd undertaking, right-turning white van driver. Well, there was also a slight hiccup at the top of Borough High Street, which was blocked off with new roadworks, and a small split in the group near Blackfriars Bridge. Still, we made it to Park Lane by around 11:15, by which time the place was heaving with cyclists. On the Broadwalk in Hyde Park I came across a married pair of AWOL members of Greenwich Cyclists, who were taking a break from their usual weekend activities to join the Big Ride.

London Cycling Campaign Big Ride, Saturday 28 April 2012 (Francis Sedgemore)
At this point I had to say farewell to my Greenwich feeder ride charges, and go find my marshalling team leader near the bottom of Park Lane. After finding my place in the throng, and being interviewed by a Japanese TV presenter, it was time for the Big Ride to set off.

The Big Ride was a huge success, despite the rain, which by the end of the event turned into a deluge. It is impossible for me to give a number of attendees, but in the end it must have been close to LCC’s hoped-for 10,000. Certainly, it was an impressive sight at the start point, with the whole of Park Lane dense with cyclists. And then the seemingly never-ending stream of arrivals at Temple Gardens on Victoria Embankment.

On the way back I happened upon an old friend from Bermondsey tearing a strip off a young cycling police officer who had the temerity to stop the multipiercèd one for cycling through a pedestrian crossing on Blackfriars Bridge. Pure street theatre it was, and the young man didn’t stand a chance in the face of the rhetorical onslaught.

Many thanks to the 40 hardy souls who joined the Big Ride at Cutty Sark Gardens, and to my fellow marshals and other Greenwich and Lewisham regulars who helped guide them into London.