It was that time of year again so we decided to create a special Christmas themed ride, with the help of our good friend Lap, aka Lap-Nav, with a little surprise at the end. The plan was to try and see as many of the less talked about lights in London as possible...then go to a pub for a few winter warmers!
We started at everyones favourite location for beer, bikes and rock 'n' roll Cycle PS Camberwell. A good turn out, including many familiar faces, gave us cause to celebrate, sadly the weather was not on our side. It looked like it had no intention of getting better so we decided to weatherproof ourselves as best we could and head out into the squall.
First stop would be the Tate Modern and the Christmas fair next to the Millennium Bridge. We started out well, braving the weather as we dropped down Kimpton street towards Burgess park and across to The Old Kent road and onwards to Bermondsey Road. From there we hung left then right to cross London Bridge and on to the first set of lights via Cannon St. Behind St Paul's Cathedral we pulled into Paternoster Square to see three beautifully lit Christmas trees.
Slightly damp we moved onwards, first through Kind Edward's Street then cutting left through Little Britain and onto a cycle path that emerged onto West Smithfields St. We cut through Smithfields Market Grand Avenue and up St John's lane passing the brilliant Jerusalem Tavern on our right.
From Farringdon lane Lap Nav took over leading us through to the Euston Road passing McGlynn's Free House and St Pancras International on our way up towards Camden Market. The light rain continued to come down but not enough to kill our spirits. From Camden we weaved our way up to Hampstead to see the lights there, stopping to shelter at the entrance to Perrin's Court. After the up hill battle we were all thoroughly warm but still damp and enjoyed a little tipple before continuing our ride.
From Hampstead it was all the way down hill starting on Heath St then Fitzjohn's Avenue, then all the way down to The Regent's Park where we took the outer rim down onto Baker St. By the time we hit Baker Street we were all soaked through. Riding down hill all the way from Hampstead in the now heavy rain, did it. We could feel the rain all the way through to our socks and shoes, but we didn't stop, we pressed on heading down to Oxford Street and through to our next set of lights on South Molton Street.
From South Molton St we cut through the back streets to Green Park and then across to Buckingham Palace and then from there on towards Victoria and eventually Edbury St and Elizabeth Street. Elizabeth Street was the crown jewel of the ride with perhaps the best Christmas lights in London.
Happy but worried about closing time we headed down Chester Row and decided to cut our loses and stop in a beautiful pub called the Duke of Wellington. Inside there was a roaring fire and staff who were a little bemused to be serving a bunch of happy but now thoroughly drowned cyclists.
Was this our final stop? Should we press on? What was the Surprise? Slightly sheepishly I revealed all. The surprise was The Surprise, a wonderfully well hidden pub about ten minutes from our current location. Some liked the joke others were a little miffed but everyone agreed that we should brave the weather once more and complete our ride as intended. So with squelching feet and sodden trousers we carried on to our final destination The Surprise which we found inevitably closed.
We'd done it, we'd survived and it was now time to head home, have a lovely warm shower and jump into a nice, dry, bed!