Ride: Lovely Lea & Epping Forest Explorer
When: Sunday 24 February 2013
Meet: 10:00 @ Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich SE10 9LW
After the faux-spring balminess of this past weekend, it’s likely to be a bit nippy this coming Sunday, but the conditions should be fine for a spin up the Lea Valley to Waltham Abbey, following which a short tour of Epping Forest. This ride is brought to you by the South East London Commissariat for Social Cycle Rides Planning (aka the Dog & Bell Crew).
The route takes us along the River Lee Navigation as far as Waltham Abbey, where we will stop for a breather in the church grounds before heading into Epping Forest. Before that we shall stop for elevenses at the Springfield Marina café in Hackney. Lunch will be at the Kings Oak pub at High Beach, in the heart of Epping Forest.
Our path through the forest will be on roads shared with infernal combustion engines, with a little roughish dirt track navigable by road bikes. There are a couple of steepish climbs on the route into the forest, but overall little in the way of hills. I do the ride on a 48:19 fixed-wheel bike, and my middle-agèd body has seen better days.
One of the climbs, up Horseshoe Hill to Upshire, is rather steep in one short stretch, and involves a hairpin left bend at that point. Unless you are very fast climbing hills, it is best to dismount here and walk the bike around the bend, on the right-hand-side of the road. Otherwise you run the risk of being rear-ended by an Essex boy racer taking the road at an inappropriate speed.
The bulk of the ride is along the River Lee towpath, and this is particularly lovely north of Tottenham Lock. On my solo rides up the Lea Valley I’ve had herons keep me company for a couple of minutes at a time, flying low over the water and wibbling away merrily to themselves, and possibly to me too. Other local fauna of note include families of ultra-orthodox Jews taking the air. Just say “Zayt moykhl” as you prepare to pass by, and then “A dank!” as you do so.
The return to the Great Wen will follow the outward track for the most part, with minor variations.
Please ensure that your bikes are in working order, with tyres free of embedded debris that could cause punctures. Bring a spare inner tube or two, puncture repair materials, water and snacks, and lights. The total distance is around 70 kilometres, or 350 furlongs for the English imperialists among you.
RSVP, but it’s OK to turn up unannounced on the day.