From l to r: Phoebe, me, Ping

Sunday saw the largest gathering of cyclists on the streets of London in the Hovis Freewheel event.

The weather was great and the crowds came out, about 36,000 – and that was the people that registered. Apart from the many “crossing points” to allow lead footed pedestrians to get to and from Buck’ Palace the route was a lovely ride around London, Phoebe especially liked the loud zone under the bridges, screaming her head off.

The event was supposed to get non-cyclists out and about London but on the whole it looked like mostly regular cyclists had turned up even though just about every rental bike in London had been taken for the day.  I think it showed just how many people do ride already.

The day started in Carshalton where we met with others from the area and were led to the hub on Clapham Common by the London Cycle Campaign marshall, who was probably knocking on 70 years old – he could move.

When we got to Clapham the scene was quite amazing – a field full of people on all sorts of bikes with one or sporting angle wings or wizard costumes. At first they were letting people go 2 at a time every 30 seconds, this proved to be just crazy as the crowd got larger and larger with huge convoys of people arriving from all over.  I wouldn’t be surprised in Clapham was the busiest hub.

The trip down to the central car-free route was quite slow, the sheer weight of numbers around the traffic light congested north side of Clapham was making hard work.  Many car drivers were clearly getting upset.

Once in to town and after many bemused people looking at this stream of cyclists we got on to the main route and headed straight for our free sandwiches (thanks Hovis) and apples (cheers Cape) and then on for the ride.  Now I have riden this route before and sometimes it is quite terrifying along the Embankment opposite South Bank.  Cars whizz through the dual carriageway – today the only worry was from little kids not being able to go in a straight line.

We stopped by the London Eye at one of the free photo spots to have our picture taken and downloaded it today from the site.

I have to say it was a really lovely day, the weather held and the smiles of peoples faces made it all the better.  The cycle home was in stark contrast through busy streets and the usual London madness until we picked up the Wandle Way near Morden.

Looking forward to next year and also Critical Mass.

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