“Mmmm,” pondered Martin, a replacement inner tube in each hand, one with three old repair patches, the other with just two; it was a tricky decision – and it took two attempts to repair the puncture. Meanwhile the rest of us lolled about in the sunshine. It wasn’t exactly a peaceful spot – we were within spitting distance of the Blackwall Tunnel. But eventually Martin managed to re-inflate his tyre and we were back on the road.
We were halfway around our annual outing to London. Thirteen Windmillers: Maurice, Andrew, two Brians, Martin, Keith, Simon, Geoff, Rod, Graham, Victor, Roger and Peter had set off at 9am from the car park of the Lee Valley White Water Centre at Waltham Cross.
It had been a very chilly start but Peter – who had found time to slip away from his duties at The Golden Fleece – arrived in shorts, brave man, and Graham, having cycled all the way from home, wasn’t feeling the cold at all. More of him later.
Maurice led the way out and on to the River Lee towpath. Heading south, we warded off the cold by keeping up a good pace along the 12 mile stretch to the Olympic Park. From there we crossed the Lee and followed the Hertford Union Canal for a further couple of miles, eventually reaching the Regent’s Canal. Then it was another two miles to Limehouse Basin and the Thames, where we paused to take in the City skyline.
We stopped for coffee and cake at St Katherine Docks before crossing the river at Tower Bridge, where we encountered the only heavy traffic of the day. Then it was back along the south bank, stopping for an aperitif at The Blacksmiths Arms, before heading on to Greenwich for lunch at the Trafalgar Tavern.
Back on the bikes, we looped around the O2 and took the cable car over the river; the views were superb. Landing on the north bank, we wound our way through the backstreets of Canning Town and back on to the River Lee towpath.
Heading north we took the return leg at a more leisurely pace, arriving back at the cars around 5pm having clocked up 44 miles; apart from Graham who had continued pedalling northwards and all the way home, clocking up some 120 miles! Well done, Graham, we reckon that’s a club record.
Thanks, Maurice and Andrew, for planning a truly exceptional day.
Martin might appreciate this old Clarence Carter classic from 1970, “Patches”
And there’s many more pictures in the Windmill Club photo album.