Cycle ride: Lovely Lea & Springtime Epping Forest Explorer

Ride: Lovely Lea & Springtime Epping Forest Explorer
When: Saturday 8 June 2013
Meet: 10:00 @ Cutty Sark Gardens, SE10 9LW (by foot tunnel entrance)

There are a number of group rides that I like to do every season, and Epping Forest is one of them. Following my last Lovely Lea and Epping Forest Explorer back in bone-chilling February, I hereby offer the ride again in late spring, this time on a Saturday. The ride is brought to you by the South East London Commissariat for Social Cycle Rides Planning (aka the Dog & Bell Crew).

High Beach, Epping Forest (photo: David Iliff)

The route takes us along the River Lea Navigation as far as Waltham Abbey, from where we head east into Epping Forest. Before that we shall stop for elevenses at Springfield Marina 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 motor traffic, with a little roughish dirt track perfectly navigable by road bikes with bald, skinny tyres. There are a couple of short and steepish climbs on the route into the forest, but overall little in the way of hills. There is only 250 metres of ascent over the entire ride, and a single 100-metre-long sharp incline that defeats me on my 48:19 fixed gear.

The bulk of the ride is along the River Lea 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. 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.

Please ensure that your bikes are in working order, with tyres pumped up hard, and free of embedded debris that could cause punctures. Bring a couple of spare inner tubes, puncture repair materials, water and snacks, and lights in case of poor visibility. The total distance is around 75 kilometres, or 350 furlongs for the English imperialists among you.

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