Cycle ride: the Consumptive Greenway

Where: Jubilee Greenway with a coughing fit
When: Sunday 24 March 2013
Meet: 10:00 @ Cutty Sark Gardens, London SE10 9LW (by the foot tunnel entrance)

At the last Dog & Bell Crew meeting I joked that Sunday 24 March is listed in the United Nations calendar as World Tuberculosis Day. Given that I offered to lead a ride on that day, but at the time hadn’t a clue on a possible route, it seems that I’ve been volunteered by my friends to lead a ride with a consumptive theme. It’s there on the Lewisham and Greenwich Cyclists websites, so there is no getting out of it now.

As it happens, I discover that there is a TB-related feature on one of my regular routes – the Jubilee Greenway. Near to Victoria Park in Bethnal Green is the London Chest Hospital. While I do not yet know anything about this renowned institution, you can be sure that I will by the time the ride takes place. It won’t be a detailed history I present you with, but I shall at least outline the role of the hospital in a city regarded as the TB capital of Europe.

As for the ride itself, from Greenwich we head west along the Thames Path into central London, crossing the river at Lambeth Bridge. We then cycle northeast up Millbank through St Stephens, passing the Mother Of All Parliaments. From there it’s along the Mall to Brenda’s Gaff, and up Constitution Hill to Hyde Park Corner.

After terrorising the tourists on Rotten Row we exit Hyde Park by Kensington Palace, and make our way towards the Grand Union Canal at Little Venice. From there it’s onto and along the Regents Canal through Camden. We stay on the Regents Canal all the way to Victoria Park in Hackney, and stop for a while at the London Chest Hospital. We then join the River Lee Navigation by the Olympic stadium.

From the Olympic park we proceed east, following the line of the Northern Outfall Sewer. At Beckton we leave the Greenway, cross the A13 via a ramped bridge from which there is a splendid view of the Beckton Alps, and cycle through Beckton Park towards the Royal Albert Dock. After crossing the Albert Dock Basin we head south, and cross the river using the free ferry to Woolwich. From Woolwich the final 10 kilometres runs along the Thames Path back to Cutty Sark Gardens.

Much of the ride is on canal towpaths shared with quadrupedal lifeforms and their accompanying two-legged bondservants, whose behaviour is not entirely predictable. On shared-use paths such pavement beasts have right of way. Gentle pings of the bell and restrained coughing are advised.

The ride is fairly long for a London outing, so bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you going. Also lights, puncture repair materials, and preferably a spare inner tube or two. We could stop for lunch at the outdoor café in Kensington Park Gardens. Please ensure that your brakes are fully functional, as talking an early bath in a London’s canal is not a good idea at any time of year. Total distance ~65 kilometres (325 furlongs in old money).

RSVP, but it’s OK to turn up unannounced on the day.