Tuesday 3 January 2017

Rapha Festive 500: Day 8

Saturday 31st December - My Tour de Londres - Northern loop (North London)

George Michael's London home
It's the last day, hoorah! I only have 40km to do, though being a Saturday, I don't start my bike ride until after taking part in the 5km-Park Run - just like on my first day of the Festive 500.

Rather than going back to Dulwich Park for the run, I stay close to home and do the Park Run in Crystal Palace Park. This venue is not doing the double - organising an event on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day so they have made a bit more of an occasion of today's run, given that it's the last one of 2016.

Prosecco and chocolates are kindly provided as finish-line refreshments. What a great idea, they should do that every week! On any other day I would indulge, but sadly I can't part-take today, given that I'll be cycling immediately afterwards. More importantly, as I have run on an empty stomach a glass of wine would just make me fall over!

Regents Park
So my ride begins just after 10am, bound for north of the river via the well-trodden (or well-ridden even) route through Dulwich, Brixton, Stockwell and Vauxhall then through north London via Regents Park.

Once again, the weather is grim. No sunshine, just cold and fog, though not as thick as yesterday. Like yesterday, I have taken no risks with my clothing and have set out with a spare anorak and a spare long-sleeved jersey as well as wearing four layers.

Worryingly I very quickly need to put on my spare anorak and waterproof trousers over my cycling tights and three quarter trousers. I have only got as far as the exit gate of Crystal Palace Park! Although this part of the ride is uphill, it is still necessary to be so wrapped up as things are just not warming up in these harsh temperatures!

It is not until I am doing another climb later on, at Hampstead Heath, that I work up a semblance of a sweat and remove just one of my anoraks.
The remaining anorak and the waterproof trousers prove useful though, as there's light rain from Primrose Hill, through Chalk Farm and Hampstead.

That's a shame really, as those areas usually look lovely and quaint - particularly the high street in Primrose Hill. But today, it's all a bit drab and people look as though they are just putting on brave faces for the last day of the year.

Chalk Farm bridge
Many folks, myself included can't say that 2016 has been a great vintage. The numerous deaths of high profile celebrities and national treasures has really not helped. We all remember the shock at learning of the death of David Bowie at the start of 2016, and this end of the year is marked by the death of George Michael. So how fitting it is, that my route (inadvertently) takes me past the fallen pop star's former home in Highgate.

I had no idea where the guy lived; I only stumble across The Grove after following the many cars and cyclists also turning into this road off Hampstead Lane. It turns out that this is a short cut into Highgate Village. Once in the village, I see crowds of people outside the house, leaving flowers and even writing inscriptions on his Range Rover that is parked outside.

I am not sure if all the traffic congestion there is due to the people turning up at the former Wham singer's house or if this is just part of the normal business of people trying to get into and leave Highgate Village - given that the property is situated on the edge of a rather tight one-way system. I can definitely imagine long queues of 4x4s and other high class cars regularly getting stuck outside his house. So it's hardly surprising that dear Georgios would have needed to escape to the edge of heaven, (otherwise known as the South Oxfordshire countryside) given all that chaos!

Ironically, The Grove is the high point of my ride - literally and metaphorically (or given the circumstances, should it be the low point??) Afterwards, the route is basically a long descent south to Camden Town, King's Cross, Blackfriars, and back into south London with no more climbing again until the hill taking me up to Crystal Palace.

Returning home after clocking up 510.5km this week and meeting the challenging should be a cause for a celebration, but I am just tired and want to flake out first before I can appreciate what I've achieved. However, as it's New Year's Eve, there's no time to rest. Instead I get changed, showered and then zoom into Croydon to do my last bit of shopping in time for the New Year's Day. No bicycle for me, for this local trip. I catch the bus!

Looking down Primrose Hill
So that's my Tour de Londres wrapped up. It's been varied and fun, but mainly cold! Also the wheel I wanted to trace around London is incomplete as the changing meteorological circumstances meant that I missed out north-west London. Sorry Wembley and Harrow! So my wheel will be rather wobbly until I put in the missing spoke. Hopefully that will be repaired soon - at a time when I won't be wearing five layers on my top half and three layers on my legs!

50.4km ridden; running total - 510.5km; 0kms remaining! Boom!
5km run
1 bagel, 1 hot cross bun, 2 biscuits, 1 Quality Street
Weather: cold, misty, light rain, 4degC

Ride on Strava
Northern loop (North London)

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