The Freewheel

The London Freewheel was a great event. Unfortunately, South West trains chose today to have engineering works, meaning that getting into London with a bike was more problematic than it need have been. I managed to get in via a different route (despite several pieces of misinformation from train staff about which route to take). I had a ticket to London Waterloo, but got off a little early at Clapham Junction, I then cycled to the common. I was one of the first cyclists to arrive.

There were free apples and sweeties. This was nice.

Waiting for the start, I did 4-5km just going round... and round... and round.

More and more people arrived, I think there must have been a 1500-2000 at the time we set off. We were funnelled onto a path out of the common and set off in small groups. Encouraged to ride no more than two abreast, the practicalities of groups of people bunching up at traffic lights meant this injunction was more honoured in the breach - though on main roads it was followed. We followed a route up to Buckingham Palace, where we joined the Car-Free route.

There were various stalls along the mall, and I visited the nice people at Evans Cycles and they reindexed my gears for me, for free (I had them close, but it wasn't quite right - all they needed was a little lube on the cable).

The route went from the Mall, around the back of Downing Street, left onto Parliament Square, onto Whitehall and then down onto the embankment. It went through the Blackfriars underpass (which was good fun - I would never dream of cycling there with cars about). We then went over London Bridge, before returning.

At various points there were photographers, and one could pose for free photos (which should be available for download tomorrow - they give you a reference number to find your photo).

I did a total of three laps, I could have done more, but I spent some time in the day browsing the stalls in 'the festival' (they should have had the stalls moved out a bit, made them double-sided - and had one side for pedestrians, and the other for people on their bikes (one way only). The other slowing factor was a bottleneck around parliament square and nearby areas.

The nice people at Hovis gave out Free Sandwiches. Red Bull gave out free caffeine based stimulant. Thames Water gave out free water (duh!), though their water bottles sucked. That was okay as Evans Cycles gave out some nice 'Tour 07' water bottles.

How could the day have been improved?

Well, it would have been nice if there were the opportunity to try a 'fast lap' or a signs saying 'slow? stay to the side', and sometimes the marshals would stop the flow to allow one person to cross on foot, and then stop again within seconds - the marshalls could have bunched the pedestrians a little more. Also, at places like parliament square, there is a subway under Whitehall which could have been employed.

Other than that, it was a great day - and I'm looking forward to the date coming round again.

One other improvement: Annually simply isn't often enough.... monthly would be great. What about weekly....?

My total cycle today was 52km. I probably could have doubled that quite happily without stopping for the stalls, and if there had been fewer bottlenecks - it was just great to peddle on reasonably good roads without fear of being flattened.

I've just uploaded my photos of the day.