Looking forward to summer? If so, Saturday 21 June 2014 is the longest day of the year, and since time immemorial people of all faiths and none have marked the occasion of the summer solstice by rising to greet the dawn. London cyclists do this in their own special way, by riding through the night from Greenwich to Primrose Hill, following a tradition established by the late great Barry Mason.
This year’s Midsummer Madness cycle ride will follow a familiar but never entirely predictable pattern, with the early risers setting off from Cutty Sark Gardens in Greenwich at 02:00 on the morning of the solstice. We then stop at Southwark Needle by London Bridge to collect more riders.
Previous years have seen one hundred and more London cyclists foregoing their beauty sleep, giddy with excitement at the prospect of experiencing the rise of the midsummer sun. Overcast skies and rain are no deterrent, for Midsummer Madness is a community happening, fun whatever the weather.
- 02:00 – Set off from Cutty Sark Gardens, SE10 9LW
- 02:30 – Collect more riders at Southwark Needle, SE1 2SY
- 03:00 – Stop for coffee and a chat somewhere in the City
- 04:30 – Reach the top of Primrose Hill
- 04:40 – Sunrise!
Following the sunrise, some participants will head off for a communal breakfast, either at Lock 7 on the Regent’s Canal, or in a Southwark café. Others will hang around Primrose Hill or do their own thing, before bidding fond farewell to friends old and new, and promising to return next year for more of the same.
Midsummer Madness is brought to you by the Dog & Bell Crew: an informal collective of social cyclists based in southeast London. The leader is science journalist and sustainable transport activist Francis Sedgemore, and the ride is organised under the auspices of the London Cycling Campaign.
There are no rules other than those of the road, good sense and common courtesy.
Dog & Bell Crew: @dogbellcrew
London Cycling Campaign – www.lcc.org.uk
Barry Mason (1950-2011) – www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Mason_(cyclist)
Update (17 June @ 10:15)
The coffee stop this year will be Polo Bar on Bishopsgate, with the change from the usual Bar Italia being to avoid the ultra-congested Soho on a Saturday morning.
Following the coffee stop, the ride will head back south along Bishopsgate, turn southwest along Threadneedle Street, and then west along Cheapside and Holborn toward Oxford Street. From Oxford Street we join the usual route at the junction with Wardour Street, turning north up Portland Street.
As for the post-ride breakfast, I’m still working on this. No response from Lock 7, but there are other possibilities on the Regent’s Canal, and one that seems keen to have us, if the guvnor can persuade chef to open earlier than usual at 06:00, is The Proud Archivist. If that fails I will default to The Island Café in Southwark, where we went last year.
I shall do a final recce of the route within the next few days.
Again, I appeal for volunteers to help marshal the ride.