London by bike

Last week I got the chance to visit London. This time however, I took my bike.

I was a little apprehensive about taking my bike as I was worried about leaving my bike when I needed to leave it unattended and lock it. After a little indecision, I decided to take the Genesis Day One, along with my Kryptonite Evolution 4 and KrypoFlex cable.

I took the bike on the train to Victoria. Upon arriving I needed the loo. I wondered where I might lock the bike. Just over the road from the station there were a few bikes locked to park railings. I thought this would be the best place. I made sure the back wheel, frame and front wheel were securely locked to the railings and took my saddle bag and gps off. I was away from the bike for only 5 minutes but was panicking constantly. Upon my return the bike was still there. What a relief!

Olympic lane
The trouble with riding a bike through London is that all the tourists think I'm a local and kept asking me for directions. Surprisingly, I managed to give some of them directions.

At first I walked with the bike as the roads were a little daunting and full of double decker buses. Once there was a clear path in the bus lane, sorry, Olympics and bus lane, I got on the bike and started to ride. It wasn't long before I got to a red light. This is a recurring theme on central London's roads. Ride, red light. Ride, red light and so on.

Olympic triathlon grandstand
It wasn't long before I reached Hyde Park and went for a ride off the main roads and through the park on the dedicated cycle lanes. Being a very big city there's no shortage of bikes being ridden at any one time. Most are regular cyclists and seem like their in a hurry to get where they need to go. A few like me are either new to the area or inexperienced and meander around trying not to get in the way of others.

In Hyde Park I saw the building of the grandstands for the Olympic Triathlon across the Serpentine. There was also a new London 2012 shop. A temporary building specially for the Olympics. More about that in a minute.

I carried on to Kensington Palace Gardens. I noticed that the park had a small number of cycle paths as did Hyde Park but many paths to walk on.

My geography of London's major tourist attractions isn't that great. I visit London at least a couple of times every year and visit a few places but always navigate by underground to get where I want to go. Some landmarks I've not visited since I was a kid so I thought I'd use this opportunity to get as much in as I could.

Whilst riding through Kensington Gardens I notice a wonderful striking gold monument. As I got closer I went around the front and saw it was a memorial to Prince Albert. I also saw it was opposite the Royal Albert Hall.

I carried on riding, heading back to Hyde Park. I got off the bike and walked over to the Princess Diana memorial fountain. Unusual in design but quite amazing to watch the water flowing around it.

Back on the road I skirted around Hyde Park but pulled into the park by the Household Cavalry to have a closer look at the London 2012 shop. There were only a few foreign tourists around so I thought the shop wasn't open but wanted to get a picture of it nonetheless.

It appeared the shop was open after all. I looked around for somewhere to lock my bike as I couldn't miss the chance to have a look inside. My only option seemed to be a tree directly opposite the entrance. Once inside the shop there seemed to be everything you could buy that was Olympics or Team GB branded. There was even jewellery. I'm quite an indecisive buyer so looked at everything at least twice before buying some gifts for my wife and kids.

Me with an Olympic torch
Upon leaving the store there's a smaller store that just sells signed memorabilia. There was a nice signed cycling jersey from Chris Hoy for a cool £1,299. Right next to it though was an Olympic torch. I took a photo of it. Moments later I was holding it in my hands. One of the kind ladies in the store asked me if I'd like my picture taken with it. I wasn't going to refuse. With a smile on my face I left the store and went back to my bike. Still nervous that it might be missing again. It wasn't.

Next stop, Buckingham Palace. I've never been there, although I've been past once. The road down Constitution Hill was quiet and the road was wide. I took my time and took a couple of photos. My next plan was to ride down the Mall but it was partially closed due to preparations for the Olympics. I rode a short way down it and then took a detour into St. James's Park. After stopping for a drink, I jumped on the bike, moving no faster than walking pace when I was stopped by a police officer. She proceeded to tell me that cycling is not allowed in the Royal Parks except in certain places and that they would soon be introducing a £50 fine. She took my details and I went on my way.

The next attractions along the way were Big Ben, Downing Street and Trafalgar Square. I then headed down to Victoria Embankment. Here I took a picture of the Genesis with the London Eye in the background. Where next? I suddenly realised I'd not seen St. Paul's Cathedral since I was a kid. I had a quick look on my phone to see where it was and got back on the bike.

When I got to the Blackfriars Underpass I wasn't sure if bikes were allowed in but there was a bike ahead of me and he went, then so did I. Out the other end I noticed I'd gone a little too far and had to back track slightly. I stopped to admire the magnificence and took a photo. At this point I thought I'd better head back towards the station for the ride home.

One the way back to Victoria I stopped outside Westminster Abbey to admire the architecture. Almost at the station I saw a bike store, Action Bikes. Thought it would be rude not to pop in and have a look. It's a small store but the staff were friendly.

Once back at the station I asked where I could lock my bike up so I could get something to eat. I was told by platform 1. Walked all the way over to be told it was by platform 8. I walked over there only to realise it was on the platform and I'd have to go through the barriers. Instead I got something from one of the smaller food stalls. Half hour later and it was time to get on my train home.

An enjoyable day if a little inconvenient at times with a bike. You can cover a lot of ground on a bike without tiring out your feet and you get to see more sights than you would on the underground. The real benefit is you can stop when you like. It'd probably put off a novice cyclist but I'd do it again, maybe with a Boris bike next time. The only other point I'd make is it's sad to see so many cyclists jumping red lights. I can see why they get frustrated being stopped so often by them.

Buckingham Palace

London 2012 countdown in Trafalgar Square

St. Paul's Cathedral

My bike locked up near Victoria station

A large cycling origami sculture

The Royal Albert Hall

Albert Memorial


  1. A great post Toby and some nice images too......


  2. It's indeed refreshing to get pleasure from a travel company in usa ; it helps us in rebirth of mind and soul. Travel destination can be of not public choice for example, few people love dampen bodies where some populace maintains absorption for hilly terrains.


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