In a blur of sweaty lycra and perfectly waxed thighs, the Tour de France is rolling into town on Monday July 7 on its Cambridge to London leg. If you’re feeling inspired to hop on the saddle yourself this summer, you can get involved in one of the five cycling events below.
The last Friday of every month sees this diverse group (the ride isn’t just for cyclists – skateboarders, roller skaters and those in wheelchairs take part too) gather outside the BFI Southbank around 6pm for a leisurely spin about town. If you’ve read about the ride in the media, you may be lead to thinking that this mass meet is a demonstration on wheels, yet organisers describe the event as a ‘celebration of the alternatives to cars, pollution, accidents’. Critical Mass is an evening when London’s self-propelled population come together and just have some Friday night fun. We highly recommend it. BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XT. Next rides are Fri Jun 27 and Fri Jul 25, 6pm meet. www.londoncriticalmass.org
The founder of this ride describes the event as a ‘navigational mindfuck’, and quite rightly. Those taking part start in Sidcup and, via Croydon, Hounslow, Edgware, Romford and Brixton (WHOA!), finish in Trafalgar Square. Take a look at the route map for an idea of what’s involved; the sane need not apply. Sidcup Place, Chislehurst Rd, DA14 6BF. Sun Jun 29, 12.30pm meet. www.lfgss.com
This quirky rolling festival sets off every July from London Fields on the Saturday nearest to the full moon, and aims to reach Dunwich on the Suffolk coast, which is 120 miles away, the following day. It’s unsupported so anyone can turn up and take their chances; in 2011 over 1,500 people supposedly participated, including one nutjob on a Boris Bike. London Fields, E8. Sat Jul 12, 8-9pm meet. www.southwarkcyclists.org.uk
If you fancy taking things at a more civilised pace, meet under the Queen Anne Statue in Kingston Market Place on the morning of Sunday July 13. The ride’s destination is weather dependent and unspecified beforehand, but participants can expect to pedal around 30 miles broken up by a pub lunch and a fortifying slice of home-made bread pudding from organiser John, who also rides at the rear of the group to make sure everyone’s all alright. Sweet, huh? Kingston Market Place, KT1 1JS. Sun Jul 13, 10.30am. www.icc.org.uk
August’s RideLondon weekend caters for all biking abilities: perfect for a leisurely spin, on Saturday August 9 the capital’s cars, buses and motorbikes are banished for the day while cyclists of all ages and ability are given free roam of the roads. Yet on Sunday August 10, over 20,000 well-seasoned riders embark on a 100-mile route from Queen Elizabeth Park into the rolling hills of Surrey and then back again, finishing up on The Mall. Various London locations. Sat Aug 9-Sun Aug 10, various times. www.prudentialridelondon.co.uk
Big bike fan? Check out more cycling-related stuff on the blog.
By Andy Hill