Monday 2 January 2017

Rapha Festive 500: Day 7

Friday 30th December - My Tour de Londres - Eastern loop (East London)

This should have been my last day of the Festive 500. It was all set to be the grande finale of my Tour de Londres, doing a half star-shaped route covering north-west, north, and north-east London.

Tower Bridge in mist
However, when I looked out of the window I could barely see the houses across the road. Everywhere was full of thick mist. This was classic pea soup! Sure, it's not uncommon to see this in rural areas or the suburbs - but in urban London?? It's been a long time since such dense fog hung over the metropole.

My initial thought had been to not go out at all, even though I still had more than 90km left. Did I really want to leave it until the last day to do all those kilometres? Also, I had been hoping to do other things on New Years Eve, rather than be out all day on my bike while others were celebrating the end of the year. After some thought I decided to end my Festive 500 with two "easy" 45km days.

As the fog didn't seem quite as dense in East London, I decided to head that way. So at almost midday I left the house wrapped in even more layers than I'd had on for my Berkshire ride, and with every bit of orange and yellow high visibility clothing I could find. I might have looked like an explosion from a paint factory but at least nobody could say they didn't see me!

As well as the issues around being seen when you ride in dense fog, there's also the cold. There was no sun to burn away the mist, so this dankness was set to stay all day, and it also meant that the temperature would not rise. In fact, as time went by I felt colder and colder as the air was quite damp too.

London Olympics velodrome
In my bag were extra clothes - an extra anorak and an extra cycling jacket. It may have seemed like overkill, but in fact having them was a godsend, as I found later, when I felt quite cold standing in the Olympic Park. It's interesting how weather can really influence your experience of a place. In the warm August sunshine of 2012 this part of Stratford looked wonderful with all the livery of the Olympics set in the green pleasant landscape.

Today, set against the backdrop of greyness and mizzle the park looked positively uninspiring and grim. Even the Velodrome building, also known as "the pringle" had lost its charm.
I just wanted to get home as soon as possible. There was no temptation to stop and take photos at Docklands, Canary Wharf, or even the attractive Cutty Sark in Greenwich. The only good thing about Greenwich during the ride was the temporary respite from the cold when going from Isle of Dogs to the Greenwich via the foot tunnel.

Blackheath in mist

After that, I put on my two anoraks, which I kept on for the rest of the ride, including when I rode up the steep Maze Hill to get up to Blackheath!

This ride was just done to rack up the necessary kms towards completing the Festive 500, and then get back to the warmth pronto. I had considered going out to Wanstead Flats, Epping Forest, and even Dagenham! But the sun was not shining there so I decided that a trip to those places could wait. Today's grim ride was just about going out to get my card stamped and then returning to the warmth where I could wrap up and watch Midsomer Murders or another Christmas film.

52.3km ridden; running total: 460.1km; 39.9km left
Weather: thick fog, 4degC (felt like 0degC)

Ride on Strava
Eastern loop (East London)

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Rapha Festive 500: Day 1

Tackling the Rapha Festive 500

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