Wednesday 25 December 2019

Rapha Festive 500 - Park Life tour: Day 2, East and Central London

Kms ridden: 70
Running total: 150
Kms left: 350

Weather: Mild and sunny; 11 degC

Parks: Brockwell; Highbury Fields; London Fields; Victoria; Queen Elizabeth Olympic; Mile End; Green; St James; Burgess; Brunswick

Routes on Strava
Ride to Highbury Fields Park run
Post-Park run ride

My day began with a ride up to Highbury Fields to do the Christmas Day Park Run. The plan had been to do a mini London tour, as I am accustomed to doing on Christmas Day. So with that I thought why not throw in a 5km run as well.
Arriving at Highbury Fields for the Park Run
Naturally I took it easy as I trotted around the five laps of the park, knowing that I would be cycling straight afterwards. Mind you, I was going to be on an eBike so I also knew that if I was flagging I would be able to add in a bit of throttle!

This Festive 500 is not only characterised by riding through parks, but also using different bicycles. Yesterday I was on my road bike; today I'm was on a Liv eBike, which I am testing. I also plan to use my mountain bike and my cyclocross bike during the week too.

After the run, I headed over to Hackney and passed through London Fields and then onwards to Victoria Park. The glorious sunny weather had brought out quite a lot of people, and many folks were out with their families for a Christmas walk. In Victoria Park there was even an amateur football match taking place.

From Victoria Park it was a quick scoot across via Wick Road, to reach the Greenway through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It was surprisingly easy to get there and find myself right next to the Olympic stadium.

Nowadays the Olympic Stadium is the home ground of West Ham United Football Club. It seems quite a grand place to have a football ground, though I know that relocating from Upton Park to here was quite an unpopular decision with the fans. Anyway, who am I to worry about West Ham fans, particularly as they are due to play against my home side Crystal Palace tomorrow!
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

It's always quite a strange feeling going around a place that would normally be bustling with athletes and sports fans, but on this day there was hardly anyone around.

And even though there was this grand stadium and the Olympic Games sculpture, there was still a sense of East London dereliction, with patches of wasteland, graffiti, and high-rise social housing blocks.

Having lots of people around, and sports events taking place makes a massive difference to the atmosphere.

After a quick tour I was back into Victoria Park and pushed on through Mile End Park and then into Central London via the segregated cycle path on Cable Street.

At Tower Bridge I made the most of it being Christmas Day and rode on streets that would normally be too congested to ride through on any other day. So my ride took me through the City, past the Mansion House and then into the West End via Ludgate Circus and Holborn Viaduct.

Surprisingly, from the West End onwards there were quite a lot of people, and even - shock horror - traffic jams around Piccadilly Circus!

There was no public transport running as it was Christmas Day, however there were still lots of black taxis and Uber cabs. Plus, loads of tourists were around and there even appeared to be organised walking tours happening around Piccadilly and near Buckingham Palace too.

Soaking in the atmosphere at Buckingham Palace
The Mall is normally closed to traffic on Sundays and Bank Holidays, so pedestrians are free to roam around the whole street.

And it seemed that people had really made the most of this opportunity in their droves, as there were as many people, if not more pedestrians than you would see ordinarily on a Sunday.

I wondered if the large numbers was also due to people bringing forward their Boxing Day walk, knowing that the weather forecast was for a wash-out.

In any case, there was a nice atmosphere in all the parks I went to, and it was great to be out in the sunshine.

I am not sure how the motorists felt on Tower Bridge, which had quite a long tail-back to get over it. Thankfully, being on a bike meant that I wasn't held up too much. I think it is fair to say now, that the days when you could ride on empty roads through Central London on Christmas Day are gone!

By the time I reached my final park, Burgess Park in Peckham, the run, the ride, and my lack of breakfast had begun to catch up with me and I was obliged to use a bit of throttle on the homeward run - especially as the ride to Crystal Palace from here was mainly uphill.

I must say, the Liv Thrive E+ which I was on was a real joy to ride. It looked a nice bike too, and responded just when I needed it to.

When I reached home I felt tired, but happy with the sights and sounds I had taken in, and I was ready to relax with my family and enjoy a bit of Christmas food.

Related post
Rapha Festive 500 - Park Life tour: Day 1

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