Saturday April 23rd was a day of firsts. It was our first big ride of the year. It was the first time many members of the 10,000km.cc collective had met one another. For many, it was the first time this year they'd had the opportunity to ride without arm or leg warmers (at least briefly).
In keeping with that theme, this is the first of a different kind of journal post. With so many phenomenal photos captured by riders, we wanted to share as many of those as possible. The below is as much a photo essay as it is an event report.
Thanks to everyone for their contributions and in particular to Ele Suggett for carrying an SLR with her for more than 200km.
See you at the next event.
07.00 | The Arrival.
30 riders congregate on the south side of London Bridge. The sun's out, there's a chill in the air that lingers alongside the excitement of the day ahead.
07.05 | The Depart.
We roll out and North. Traffic remains light, but the roads are distinctly urban for the first 20km as we look to leave the city behind for the majority of the day.
08.15 | A Welcome Relief.
One left turn can make all the difference. Veering off the A104, we leave behind what will be one of the last of the busy roads we'll see for another 150km. The pace settles, the smiles form, the conversation flows more easily.
We peddle on.
09.30 | The Split.
30 riders and the last of the winter's debris mean the odds were always stacked against us when it came to punctures and mechanicals. The first of the day offers a chance to stop and enjoy the surroundings and for the group to spread out a little.
No (wo)man gets left behind.
10.30 | The Rest Stop.
The collective reconvenes over coffee and a warm breakfast (with a side of cake). Stories are swapped and more formal greetings given, as everyone waxes lyrical on the fortuitous weather and a chance to reintroduce the feeling to their fingers.
11.30 | Onwards.
Spirits lifted by sugar and caffeine, everyone's raring to hit the road. That enthusiasm is quickly directed towards the second puncture of the day. 29 people standing around proffering advice and tips on how best to change an inner-tube quickly and efficiently isn't particularly constructive, but it is hilarious.
For some, the stop also acted as a photo opportunity.
13.00 | Roads Less Travelled.
What's a ride without some challenging terrain? A few farmers roads presented themselves as we moved closer to the 200km mark and anyone hoping to have avoided changing a flat waved goodbye to the prospect. Alongside the fun of not-quite-tarmac beneath rubber sat a mass tube change.
At least five of the group huddled around their wheels (all of them the back -- it's never the front) and got to work.
14.50 | A Chance Encounter.
In the same way the best roads are the ones you didn't plan, the best rest stops are those you didn't intend to take.
50km lie between us and our Central London finish point as we roll past what will likely be the last place where we can stop, savour the ride and compose ourselves.
Who are we to argue with fate?
15.15 | The Approach.
"This is where people start to flag".
The words escaped from somewhere inside the group as heads begin to hang. Conversation continues in earnest, but the threads are starting to show as the strain sets in.
A strong, unrelenting and vocal desire for Haribo has its epicentre somewhere deep within the pack and ripples out through every rider.
16.30 | The Final Leg.
The traffic lights appear. The stop-start, stop-start begins again. We become increasingly enveloped by cars and lorries.
The spell is broken. The lanes have been left behind. We are back in London.
Tall glass buildings confirm the fact and The Shard stands proudly in the distance. It's our North Star, towering above its smaller counterparts and directing us towards our final destination.
We finish. We congratulate one another. We thank each rider for the company and the support (in some cases mechanical, in others moral).
Inexplicably, we get back on our bikes and we cycle back to our respective homes.
Distance: 213km | Elevation: 1,539km | See the route.