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Old 2008-11-16, 10:09 PM   #1
paul royle
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London Coker Tour(ism)

I was inspired by Nathan's posts about the San Francisco Unicycle Tour to try something similar in London. This morning 6 riders set out on the first annual London Coker Tour. The weather was overcast and a little breezy, but not bad for November in England.



At about 8:30, after the traditional pre-ride faff, we set off from Tooting towards Earlsfield and then onwards to Wimbledon Common. This first part of the ride was on the road so we started early to avoid traffic. After an uneventful half hour or so we arrived at the Common, and the start of an almost completely traffic free 14 mile stretch all the way to Chiswick

It had rained quite a bit in the last few days so the ground on the Common was wet with plenty of slippery leaves. After a couple of missed mounts and UPDs everyone was on and were were on our way. The cycle paths across the common range from smooth hardpack to very loose sandy gravel to mud so it's an entertaining place to ride a Coker, or a 29er with a big apple tyre. We managed to make it to the other side without mishap and crossed the footbridge over the A3 to Richmond Park.

The foot bridge has stepped ramps at each side. Alan and Liam had a go at riding down them. Alan managed a couple of steps, Liam managed the whole of the one ramp, a impressive feat, especially as he uses SPDs



Richmond Park was originally the Kings deer park where he used to hunt. Nowadays it's mostly used by cyclists, horse riders and walkers, and on a Sunday morning you see a lot of very expensive road bikes doing laps at high speed. Our route took us through the centre of the park, past a large group of deer, a large group of cyclists, and out of Ham gate heading towards the River Thames. The cyclists were very impressed to see 6 unicyclists, the deer didn't say much.



At the crossroads in Ham disaster struck. Alan was hopping on the spot waiting for the lights to change when there was an ominous crack from his Coker. It wasn't immediately obvious what had happened and we thought perhaps he'd snapped a spoke. We rode on towards the river and it became obvious all was not right. Closer inspection revealed a crack in the hub, with only the crank bolt holding the crank on. Alan decided to try and ride it carefully to Richmond where he could get the tube, but when he attempted a free mount the axle finally gave way leaving him with only one crank, and a 3 mile walk to the station.

We made our way along the Thames to Richmond, some riding, some on foot and stopped in the cafe by the river for tea (or coffee) and cake. The cakes were excellent, heartily recommended. UK riders will understand that tea and cake are essential components for a good Coker ride, along with beer. Our next scheduled stop was the Fullers brewery, so we had that covered. Once we'd finished our tea and cake Alan left for the station and the remaining five riders continued down the river, past Kew gardens towards Chiswick.



We crossed over the river at Chiswick bridge, by the finish line of the Oxford-Cambridge boat race, and continued up the north bank towards the brewery.
After a hearty lunch washed down with some very fine ales we were ready to continue. Rich decided to rest his knee so he took the tube (and Alan's broken uni) and agreed to meet us later on.

The next few miles of the ride was back on roads, but almost all of them are quiet back streets with little or no traffic. The route winds its way through Hammersmith, cuts across the south of Shepherds Bush, up into Notting Hill and then round and down to Kensington Gardens. There was a lot of stop start riding as we crossed several busy roads, but we made good time and were soon in Kensington Gardens heading to the Albert Memorial where we'd arranged to meet Rich.



After photos by the memorial Rich and Alan swapped again with Alan heading for the tube and Rich joining the rest of us for the next part of the ride. We headed east out of Kensington Gardens and over the road into Hyde Park. We rode up the side of the Serpentine and out of the gate at Hyde Park Corner. We crossed the roundabout, rode under the Wellington Arch and then down Constitution Hill to Buckingham Palace.



After yet more photos we headed down The Mall to Trafalgar Square. Constitution Hill and The Mall are closed to motor vehicles on Sundays so we had a completely traffic free ride all the way from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square.

More photos in Trafalgar Square, then a short walk down to the river and over the bridge to the South Bank where we met Alan next to the London Eye.

To be continued...
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Old 2008-11-16, 10:18 PM   #2
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Sounds like a lot of fun! Sorry to hear about the hub.
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Old 2008-11-16, 11:16 PM   #3
semach.the.monkey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul royle View Post
This morning 6 riders set out on the first annual London Coker Tour.
That looks great. I wish I'd have known, as I would have probaby come down for that. (Although the weather was fantastic all day here in Nottingham though!).

So, have I got to wait another 364 days until the next one, or will there be another one in, say, spring maybe?

STM
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Old 2008-11-16, 11:28 PM   #4
mike.hinson
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You were spotted at Trafalgar Square by 2 members of my family.
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Old 2008-11-17, 12:25 PM   #5
paul royle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by semach.the.monkey View Post
That looks great. I wish I'd have known, as I would have probaby come down for that. (Although the weather was fantastic all day here in Nottingham though!).

So, have I got to wait another 364 days until the next one, or will there be another one in, say, spring maybe?

STM
I only invited a few fairly local riders this time as I wanted to do a small scale test of the route.

There will definitely be another one, hopefully when it's a bit warmer. The best times seem to be either late spring or early autumn, I'll look at the calendar for next year and try and find a suitable date. You'll definitely get an invite next time

Paul
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Old 2008-11-17, 12:45 PM   #6
ian.stockwell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by semach.the.monkey View Post
That looks great. I wish I'd have known, as I would have probaby come down for that. STM
Just what I was thinking
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Old 2008-11-17, 05:48 PM   #7
cathwood
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I hope Danny didn't have too many of those fine ales

Looks like fun. I'm jelous.
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Old 2008-11-17, 05:52 PM   #8
samwii
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Hi paul, that looked like a pretty awesome ride, although I think it should be on a larger scale next time. Also I've got my brakes fixed on my 36er... Turned out that the bolt and clamp from the brake itself were missing.
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Old 2008-11-18, 10:05 PM   #9
paul royle
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Here's part two of the write-up, starting with a photo of the London Eye



We met Alan by the London Eye, and after an unsuccessful attempt to build a tower of Cokers (not enough wheels) we started to weave our way along the South Bank. The sheer number of tourists makes for a constantly shifting slalom course.

We stopped off at the Royal Festival Hall, where the skateboarders hang out. Liam had a go at the ramps, and almost managed to ride up from the lower part, he made riding down look easy. He was still clipped in. Unfortunately there are no photos, perhaps next time.

By now it was about 3:30, and starting to get dark, so we decided to skip the tourism and made our way quickly down to the Tate Modern to warm up in the pub next to the river. The pub was full, but supplied blankets for those sitting outside



After we'd finished our drinks it was properly dark and significantly cooler, so all further tourism was abandoned in favour of a sprint to Tower Bridge, and then a tube ride to Victoria and the train back, or that was the plan. At this point Rich decided to leave and headed to the tube to wait for us at Victoria.

The ride from the Tate Modern takes in the Globe Theatre, the Golden Hind, London Dungeon, Borough Market, and City Hall. We sped past all of these with barely a second glance and were soon approaching Tower Bridge. We were crossing the bridge on our way to the Tower of London for the final photos of the day when Rich called to say there were no tubes the part of the line we intended to use due to "planned engineering work". Bugger! I'd test ridden the route, checked the locations and quality of cafes and pubs, checked the tide times for the river section, and worked out the trains back to south west London, but I'd completely forgotten about the tube.

The remaining riders at the Tower


The solution was to ride back to Waterloo and get a train to Clapham Junction and ride back from there. It meant a slightly later finish but a longer ride We arrived back in Tooting at about 6pm, tired but happy.

Stats for the ride

36 miles
365 metres of ascent
386 metres of descent
Overall Time approx 9 hrs 30 minutes

Everyone rode all the route bar Rich and Alan who did about two thirds each.

I can't wait for next year. There's a lot more riding we could do...

Paul
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Old 2008-11-18, 10:34 PM   #10
keg
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Paul,

Thanks for the write-up, it was a great ride. The thing that surprised me most was the amount of traffic free riding. Considering we rode through the middle of the capital a significant part of the ride was car free, with other parts being low traffic. We'd been told to expect this, but I still had my doubts

I've attached a picture of the route. The straight line is caused by pausing the GPS on the train.

Additional stats:

Riding time < 5.5 hours
75% riding in 3 hours 20mins

Keith & Danny
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Old 2008-11-19, 10:56 AM   #11
redwelly
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul royle View Post
There will definitely be another one, hopefully when it's a bit warmer.
Cool, I'm looking forward to it already! Don't wait too long - a mass tour of cokeurs across snow-covered London Town with bobblehats and trailing scarves is a warming image.

Edit: Paul: Movember is looking good.

Last edited by redwelly; 2008-11-19 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 2008-11-19, 11:23 AM   #12
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Cool, this is a great idea, for any town
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Old 2008-11-19, 11:12 PM   #13
Danny Colyer
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Quote:
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Stats for the ride

36 miles
365 metres of ascent
386 metres of descent
Overall Time approx 9 hrs 30 minutes
That's seriously impressive for Little Danny. Good stuff.
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