Friday, August 20, 2010

River Thames Bridges Cycle

I'd had this River Thames Bridges Cycle cycle planned for quite a while before I eventually got the chance to undertake it. I was still Living in Dublin at the time, so had to wait for a holiday back to England before I could take the bike to London. As it turned out, it became just one part of a little tour I completed.

On day one, a Thursday, I cycled from Brighton to London and stayed in Greenwich overnight with family. I then completed this bridges cycle on the Friday, which took me from Greenwich to Surbiton. A day of rest, of sorts, was spent sightseeing with family in and around London city centre on Saturday. On Sunday I cycled from Surbiton to Portsmouth, arriving there about 10 minutes before a massive rain storm. That's planning for you! Monday was a rest day, so I just went for a little spin along a disused railway line, of course! Then on Tuesday I cycled from Portsmouth back to Brighton. T'was a most enjoyable few days.

As I am fascinated with London and its history, I have included Wikipedia links (because they are the authority on all things historical and knowledgeable of course*) to all the named places of interest, so you can click on any that take your fancy and read all about them at your leisure. I'm good like that :)

So, It's Friday morning. River Thames Bridges Cycle day, remember? I do tend to digress sometimes you will come to notice. I started off about 8am and cycled up through Greenwich Park, past the Peter Harrison Planetarium and the Royal Observatory, through which, the Prime Meridian or International Date Line passes, then down the embankment, past the National Maritime Museum and onto the Cutty Sark, which was still under conservation following a fire during its planned renovation.

*citation needed

Canary Wharf and the O2 Arena (well, a bit of it, over on the right there, partly obscured by the trees, as seen from the Royal Observatory. Who gave that man a camera?) 

Not far from the Cutty Sark, I joined the Thames Path and joined up with the Thames Cycle Route 4 which is part of Sustrans's National Cycle Network. I was not intending to follow the cycle route and I soon lost the route altogether anyway, as the signposting is not the best!

My first bridge of the day was Tower Bridge. What a way to start! It was only when I got to the second bridge of the day that I then decided to take a photo of my bike beside every name plaque, rather than just a photo of the bridge, in order to personalise my trip more. I did think about going back to Tower Bridge, but I didn't have to think about it for long, traffic in London is a nightmare! Who knew?!? I liberated this pic from somewhere else on the web. If I ever find its source, I promise to credit them.

After the plaque that Tower Bridge got, London Bridge must feel a little hard done by!

As you can clearly see the name of the bridges in the photos (I really do have some jolly clever ideas at times :), the text above each is really just to provide you with a link to click on to read about the bridge. I know, you know, I know you're not stupid! Anyway, this is Southwark Bridge!

Blackfriars Bridge

Waterloo Bridge. The other half name you can see is that of Somerset House.

A pretty famous one this one! Can you guess the nam... Oh, it says it there in the picture of course doesn't it! Yes, it's Westminster Bridge.

Westminster Bridge is the bridge with all the willy's on it that you can see when it's sunny. What do you mean?, "What willy's?" Have you not seen the amusing photo that has graced every email inbox over the past few years? Oh, you haven't? You are in for a treat then, as here it is...

I couldn't find a name plate on Lambeth Bridge at all, but this is it. I checked!

Vauxhall Bridge

With a little teaser photo of the best building in the world in the distance. It's not small, it's far away!

Chelsea Bridge

We're getting closer! Do you know the name of that building? It's only bloomin' Battersea Power Station as seen from Chelsea Bridge.

As we are ahead of schedule, we have time for a little musical interlude. I won't patronise you by telling you which album cover this is. All you kids will have to just look it up for yourselves. Go on. It will be fun!

Albert Bridge was closed for renovation. A barge probably hit it or something!

Oh, I was mistaken...

"The bridge was closed to motor vehicles on 15 February 2010 for refurbishment and strengthening. It was originally expected to remain closed for approximately 18 months, but after the condition of the bridge was found to be worse than expected, it was closed for 22 months. It re-opened on 2 December 2011, when two dogs named Prince and Albert, from nearby Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, walked across the bridge"

...ahhhh, that's a nice touch!

Battersea Bridge could do with a nicer plaque. At least you can flippin' read the name on London Bridge! My nan used to live near here, you know. Just behind those buildings on the right there actually. What they call a stones throw I suppose.

Wandsworth Bridge has two naming things. Get you, with your fancy doubling up there! Shame it's not much of a bridge to look at then really, isn't it?! Oh look, you can see two silver spokes on my back wheel in this photo. They were the ones that were broken when I bought it. The repair shop didn't have black ones in stock when I took it in for replacements. I could have waited a few days or so for the black ones to come in but I... How have we got off track all of a sudden? Do you see what I mean now about how boring this bridge is? Even I couldn't remain interested and I was on it!

I think Battersea Bridge, Wandsworth Bridge and here, Putney Bridge, must have got a good deal on their name plaques when these went up. Buy 2, get a 3rd free maybe. Were Boots doing name plaques back then?

At Putney Bridge I got chatting to a walker/jogger, who had observed me checking out my map and asked me if I needed any help. We spoke for a good while actually about all manner of things, including both cycling and jogging of course. He'd had a major operation recently and was just getting back into exercising again. He told me that he used to love cycling but could not do it anymore under Doctor's orders. Golly! He also told me about the tow path along the embankment that would take me to the next bridge and beyond. Until then, I had only been cycling on roads, so a chance to get away from the traffic, came as a welcome relief. What I had not expected though was just how amazing the rest of the cycle would be! From Putney Bridge I cycled all the way to Hampton Court Bridge along the banks of the River Thames on the Thames Path once again.

Hammersmith Bridge. Now, this is more like it. This is what you call a bridge!

Another musical interlude, well more of a detour really, and a chance to visit a poignant place which I had wanted to see for years, as I knew there was a shrine there. This is where Marc Bolan died when the car in which he was a passenger hit a sycamore tree on Queen's Ride in Barnes, London on September 16, 1977. Poor chap!

Chiswick Bridge

Now, Kew Bridge should be here but somehow I managed to miss it out completely! I'm not sure how. I shall go back and take the photo someday, maybe. You can see a picture of it on the link of course. I could have sworn I did them all. I guess not. I must have been distrac... is that chocolate I can smell?

Twickenham Bridge

Richmond Bridge

Kingston Bridge with its most delightful floral arrangements.

...and a bit closer.

En route to the last bridge on the list, this is Hampton Court Palace.

Hampton Court Bridge. The last bridge.

And the end of the line, for today, Surbiton Railway Station

What a fabulous day! I can thoroughly recommend anyone to walk the Thames Path if you ever get the chance. Simply stunning! Oh, and I remembered to bring food and water with me this time. I didn't fancy drinking out of that river!

List of bridges in London

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dublin Social Cycling Group

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Second time out with a group from Dublin Social Cycling Group
Cycle from Phoenix Park to Hill of Tara and back

Met at the Wellington Monument in the Phoenix Park in glorious weather

Some video footage from the outward bound journey

Reached our destination at the Hill of Tara in just under 3 hours at a very leisurely pace

Enroute to Skryne/Skreen

I didn't feel a drop of rain all weekend but I guess this lot thought otherwise

Some welcome cloud cover at our Skryne/Skreen, our second destination

A welcome pint at this famous watering hole

The dead centre of Ratoath

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dublin's Velodrome

Earlier this year, I discovered that there is a velodrome in Eamon Ceannt Park, Sundrive Road. So I bought myself a track bike and joined the team for some oval racing.

If you are in Dublin and fancing going along, the Sundrive Track Team are based there. They offer accreditation and organise race nights throughout the season. They are also a road race team too.

There is also a wealth of useful information on the Track Cycling Ireland website.

Also, you'll need a license and you can get that from Cycling Ireland.

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