Thursday, 18 November 2010

Shiny, shiny West End

After the seemingly obligatory hour spent fixing mechanical issues and attaching lights, the Pedal Power Kennington ride to the xmas lights in Regent Street and Oxford Street was ready to go, but with a deadline to be back in 45 minutes! A light drizzle for a few minutes didn't dampen our spirits and made the West End all shiny. We went up to the Mall, through to Trafalgar Square and up to Piccadilly Circus.  A quick glance at the lights on Regent Street then it was across to Leicester Square, down to Trafalgar Square, along Whitehall and back across Lambeth Bridge.

Two of the lads hadn't ridden with us before and totally loved it. Where next?

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Kennington takes on the Arsenal

Fourteen Pedal Power Kennington Cyclists rode to Arsenal Emirates Stadium today to get a behind-the-scenes tour.

We had a good 6 mile ride to the stadium where we were admitted through the Directors' Entrance before going up to try out their exclusive match seats

and admire the view they have of the pitch

Next stop, the players' changing area (where I managed to fail to take a photo of the amazing group bath!)

and out to the pitch through the players' entrance

Starting to cycle back we stumbled across Theo Walcott doing a photo-shoot in a phone box, and I failed to get a photo again. We arrived back in Kennington as dusk arrived after a really good day out.

We had a couple of children who were under 10 with us and everyone managed to cycle the 12 miles comfortably as we took a leisurely pace and it wasn't too hilly. Those who were with us now know that it's easily doable - let's hope this rubs off on their mates who didn't come along this time.

Thanks to Arsenal for giving us this tour free of charge and to Southwark's School Travel Plan Manager for negotiating that.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Then the world turned upside down

The chilly weather certainly impacted on attendance at Pedal Power Kennington's ride tonight with only three young riders (one of whom seemingly stayed warm throughout in shorts and t-shirt!). But what a good and fast ride we had, over Lambeth Bridge, through the magically hidden square that avoids Parliament Square, up past the Treasury and Pelicans, along the Mall past Clarence House with its mannequin soldiers outside, past Buck House along Green Park, under the Wellington Arch, through Hyde Park past the Serpentine and Serpentine Gallery Pavilion and then the world turned upside down with Anish Kapoor's help.

Everyone enjoyed themselves - helped in huge measure by most of the route being off-road - and we were even back on time (despite opting for the horrific full on traffic around Parliament Square, followed by Westminster Bridge on the return journey to compare and contrast with our outward journey).

The workshop this week was, as usual, packed and pretty chaotic with people desperately wanting help fitting a found derailleur, finding a rear wheel quick release skewer (only front wheel ones to be found), etc. etc. Some projects were started, some were finished. Most made progress but not enough for the bike to be ridden home that evening, with ensuing frustration - it takes experience to learn that fixing things takes time.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Mellow Route to Earl's Court

Cycling from Kennington to Earl's Court Exhibition Centre would be the stuff of nightmares for many, but a quick check of TfL's Local Cycling Guide no.7 reveals that for much of the journey there's an off-road and scenic route. Pedal Power Kennington had a great ride on it in the sun today to visit the Cycle Show.

Nip over the river at Lambeth Bridge, down John Islip Street and Lupus Street, and you can cycle on the shared use pavement along the Chelsea Embankment and Cheyne Walk. On one side you have the river, views of Battersea Park and houseboats. On the other you have the mass of queueing cars that you're meandering past. On to back streets for a quick look at the antique shops and auction houses in Lots Road before nipping across Kings Road and Fulham Road to cycle up through the wonderfully atmostpheric Brompton Cemetery (above) to the back entrance of Earl's Court.

There is one little fly in the ointment on the riverside Embankment, which is part of National Cycle Network 4 (like the M4 but with a total budget equivalent to less than a foot of the motorway). Crossing the road leading to Chelsea Bridge is a doddle due to a Toucan crossing; likewise Albert Bridge. However at Battersea Bridge the powers that be have decided no pedestrian or cycle crossing lights or crossing time is necessary.

So you stand there while traffic goes straight on over the bridge, then the lights change and traffic turns left over the bridge, etc. etc.
After observing this a few times you take a deep breath and just chuck a couple of the smaller kids into the way of the cars. The drivers beep at them getting in their way but, 'cause they're kids, squeal to a stop. While they're in chaos you get the rest of the group to go across. Simples, innit.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

We might never have seen this

The local youth cycling group, Pedal Power Kennington, had a really pleasant after-school ride today. We meandered along the embankment, along Belvedere Road and nipped up by the National Theatre to ride slowly and considerately along the river bank to Gabriel's Wharf.

Of course, if the landowners have their way this would be BANNED and we'd have stayed on the horrible motor-traffic choked road all the way instead.

We'd never have chanced upon the head appearing from the sand, and we'd never have had a stone throwing contest (what reckless vandals we are!).