Full house – now we are 250
After breakfast of yogurt, jam tarts, grapes and tea we collected bikes and assembled for the Grand Depart one last time. Various messages from Palestine were read out, together with the usual notices from the redoubtable Owen and Ceinwen. A few more were joining for the final day and we were now up to full strength at 250 riders, bedecked in Palestinian colours (Black, White, Red and Green).
Cycle path to Wheathamstead
I remember from 2018 the initial ride from Luton to Wheathamstead as being along a good cycle path through woods and beside fields following the East Coast Main Line. Single file, but I was near enough the front at the back of a group riding well and it was a real pleasure.
Down to St.Albans, passing straight by
Another rainy lunch (London Colney FC)
Pressing on, fully laden.
High Barnet and time to take an early bath
We stopped for a partial regroup before joining Wood Street into Barnet High Street as a mass bloc. Jane, Euan, and I needed to peel off to get our trains so I took a human-signpost role in the High St to shout goodbyes and encouragement as the peloton streamed by, then the following groups interrupted by the traffic lights, then waited for the stragglers and eventually the back markers to arrive after about 25 mins (4 punctures since the last stop apparently) by which time another rain shower was in full flow. Really sad not to make it all the way to the rally, but train times and the need to collect Eddie The Dog in the morning made it impossible.
Up and down across far North London
The battery in Garmin had died and it was too wet to change it, so had to switch to the phone to get a route to Paddington. I had thought it would be basically downhill since we were in “High” Barnet, but it turned out there were some intervening hills to cross before descending through Golders Green, and West Hampstead. At least the shower passed fairly soon and the three of us more or less dried out. Very difficult to read the phone directions in the raindrop wet case, or hear the instructions when in traffic, but we made it with frequent stops to check the way and time to pick up some provisions before our trains were called.
Said farewell to Euan on the concourse as his train was the Last Train to
Clarksville Cornwall and left before ours.
Who knows where the trains go – not FGW for one.
If you zoom right in on Paddington you will see the squiggle where FGW suddenly decided 5mins before departure that the train we had all boarded was not going to Bristol at all, but to Swansea instead. So having struggled to load bikes we, and all the other passengers on the full train, had to hastily detrain and beetle around to platform 5. Grrr. Aside from that the journey was fast, if too wobbly in the new electric trains to be able to type on a phone keyboard.
(Whoops forgot to turn off recording, not a new speed record at the end of the track below!).
Stats & Track
63.2km, 463m of climb. Ave,speed 14.4km/hr – but that does include a few minutes at 120.6km/hr at the end.