Christmas Day ride 2004

(8.45am: an excited Frenchwoman calls.....we'd love to do your ride today. Where can we hire bikes....?).

It was a wonderfully sunny, not that cold, bluesky midwinter day. Perfect. There were 25 of us at Cutty Sark Gardens for the 10am meet. Lovely mixed happy bunch. Not many other people around. We headed slowly west along the riverside and only hit the big road at Tower Bridge so as to get to London Bridge for 11am. As we came up Tooley Street the Southwark Needle crew looked wonderful....around 55 of them. An accurate count said there were now 80 of us. Woo. I did the prezzy thing and gave all a Southwark Cyclists business card. Lots of familiars, some heavy cuddly German goths from Berlin, not much tinsel, some sherry, champagne, and high-heeled boots, microskirt and stockings. Surprisingly comfortable to ride in he said. An instant loo-stop at Southwark Cathedral made me feel even worse about missing the 9am service ('s the aesthetics) but that didn't last long.

West west along the riverside past deserted Tate Modern, Oxo Tower, Festival Hall, London Eye, under the end of Westminster Bridge, Albert Embankment, under Vauxhall Bridge, detoured inland round the building site onto the Vauxhall Cross pavement, then onto the Nine Elms riverpath. We inevitably got split up here for a few minutes. round the outside of Battersea Power Station and the barking dog's home onto Chelsea Bridge approach to find the new Chelsea Bridge underpass...which was miserably gated closed. We carried our bikes up the steps, and crossed into Battersea Park. Then were more people about now, but not many. And we were very soon over the Wandle delta, into Wandsworth Park, across Putney High Street and onto Putney Embankment, and the Duke's Head. It's a palacial old Young's pub right on the river. It was pretty busy when we got there, bikes everywhere. We stayed maybe 40 minutes and left around 1.30pm.

And then over Putney Bridge past Parsons Green and the ghostly quiet Kings Road. Left up Sydney Street took us past South Ken tube station and up Exhibition Row. We hit Hyde Park by the Albert Memorial. Then 270 degrees round the park and off at Marble Arch. Edgware Road was as busy as ever. It felt like a weekday up here. The Cafe du Liban. 71 Edgware Road. 020 7706 1534) was expecting us....they'd phoned at around 11am for an idea of numbers. They moved tables etc. We counted them in. 42 of us sat down to a 3pm lunch. I'd thought that that was everyone but later reports talk of another dozen or so overflowing next door. Everyone seemed to eat well for around 8 or so a head.

Things started drifting part after lunch as people headed home in the gathering darkness. 30 or so of us headed east as numbers dwindled fast. We never did find that legendary open pub. Around 6pm we said our goodbyes.

Good day out with a wonderfully mixed bunch of bikers. Our fourth 25/12. Doug and I have done all.

Barry 07905 889 005

Don't try this....after Boxing Day ballet (Matthew Bourne's male Swan Lake at Sadlers Wells. Nice) we had a beer in an Exmouth Market pub. Whilst unlocking etc I hooked my locked Dlock over a spike on the church railings. On the way to kings Cross 2 days later we chanced by there on the very off-chance...and there it still was.