After a week of clear weather spent mostly on a train recovering from injuries sustained on the previous ride it was no surprise to see wet weather forecast for Thursday. Now becoming somewhat of a tradition for the rides we organise I defiantly posted to the event, "It's raining but we're still riding!"...
I arrived at Cycle PS around 7:15 expecting to see none of the usual faces due to the utterly disgusting and miserable weather I'd just experienced outside. I was wrong, the hardcore few were there, ready and excited for the off.
It being the start of the bank holiday weekend we decided to start a little later. Hitting the road around 8pm our motley crew of seven took off into the night heading for Battersea. The rain was bearable and did little to slow our progress as we pedalled down Camberwell New Road and turned left at Vassal Rd. Vassal Rd became Caldwell St which we followed to the junction with Clapham Rd. Here we waited for the lights to change before sneakily popping onto Cobbett St.
Cobbett St was part of a small estate, a cracked, quiet road, that lead onto other similar roads, Kibworth St, winding back and forth to join the straight and narrow Dorset Rd and then Heyford Terrace which joined the main South Lambeth Rd. After 100 metres we turned left off this main road and down Wyvil Rd to pass a beautiful pub called The Vauxhall Griffin.
Leaving the quiet, narrow route behind we turned left to join Wandsworth Rd and the full force of the wet weather. Before our spirits were too dampened we returned to the back roads, shooting down Stewart's Rd which ducked under the railway line near Queenstown Rd and onto Thessaly Rd which allowed us to quickly join Battersea Park Rd to join the park itself at Queen's Circus roundabout.
Battersea park was a welcome relief from the wild rain, with it's over hanging trees and quiet demeanour. The air tasted clean as we rolled through to the Peace Pagoda and along the river to The Albert Bridge where we crossed over to join the river path again before arriving at our first planned stop.
It had been our plan to stay here a while and test each other in a little skid contest but again with the surfaces so wet all was a danger zone. We stopped briefly, explained what had been planned then continued, crossing Battersea Bridge to land in Chelsea and the homes and hideouts of the wealthy.
From King's Rd we turned left onto Old Church St passing The Chelsea Arts Club on our left. Crossing the Fulham Rd we sauntered up to Queen's Gate a huge duel carriageway style road that stretches right up to Kensington Gardens. Once at the top we turned left into the gaudy lights and sounds of Kensington High Street. From here we sought the entrance to a tasty cut through in the shape of Holland Walk. This joins Kensington High St to Holland Park Avenue with a steep final section, finished with a fence.
At the bottom of this pathway, James, aka The Wheelie-Boarder who was already suffering with a soar throat decided to throw in the towel. Without decent wet weather gear it was pretty awful and an injury in his left knee had also reared its head again. We said our goodbyes and then we were six.
Soon to arrive at our next stopping point we shifted down Holland Park Avenue turning right onto Princedale Rd. At it's end this joins with Walmer Rd with no access for cars, we bolted along it getting slightly lost looking for Latimer Road station. Leading and not wanting to alarm anyone I went with it and finally found my way there and onto our next location, a hidden car park beneath a football pitch. Strangely this car park doesn't appear on the map but it exists and houses a few fantastic retro-fitted VW camper vans. We did a couple of laps and then resurfaced onto Crowthrone Rd and it's graffiti laden walls.
Time to stop. On the opposite side of the road hidden beneath the Westway we took our second break. Undercover and hidden we broke out the sound-system, enjoyed a well earned beer, and discussed our plans for the summer.
Recovered and ready, we tidied up, packed up the sound-system and continued our adventure. Still under the Westway we eventually appeared on St Marks Rd, crossed it and headed up Malton Rd which became a small path, again running beneath the Westway. To continue along this path we crossed Portobello Rd and eventually joined Acklam Rd. At the top end of this we hung right to cross a bridge beneath the Westway similar to the bridge on the previous ride with a caged roof. The other side brought us out onto Tavistock Rd.
Although the plan had been to head down to the South Bank and hang out in the graffiti tunnel it was clear that the weather had taken it's tole. Two of our tiny crew were based North of the river and so as we neared Hyde Park we became four. Four rad riders, wet and weathered, we hammered through the night. From Hyde Park to Westminster, Camberwell and Peckham, and on to our final destination The Gowlett.