In true Boris Johnson style, the mayor of London described the RideLondon festival of cycling “thegreatest mass-participation cycling event in the world”, conveniently forgetting everyday cycling commuters in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Copenhagen and elsewhere.
But this really was quite some event. Just on the 08:43 train from Ipswich to Liverpool Street, I counted 8 bikes heading down for the opportunity to ride around London’s central area, and they were a small part of the estimated 70,000 who enjoyed great weather and traffic free roads to pedal around some of the capital city’s most famous landmarks.
There was plenty of entertainment and attractions too. The police had their safety demonstration in the Green Park festival area, so cyclists could check for themselves how extensive some of the blindspots are for truck drivers. That said, if this is the case, no wonder that there is a growing groundswell of opinion that heavy goods vehicles should not be allowed in city centres at least during the rush hour.
There was a “Bike Bling” tent, where loads of young cyclists were enjoying adding coloured beads to their cycle spokes, as well as stickers for the frame and their helmets.
The CTC (Cyclists Touring Club) were pursuing their theme of getting more people back into cycling with their “Doctor Bike” tent, providing free bike checks and servicing.
Apart from the FreeCycle fun ride around the centre, there was also the 100-mile ride from London to Surrey for amateur cyclists on Sunday. This attracted around 25,500 participants, not all of whom enjoyed the slog up Leith Hill and Box Hill!
Professional events included a Pro women’s race on the Saturday evening, and then on Sunday afternoon professional men’s teams competed in the RideLondon-Surrey Classic, where it was great to see Sky’s Ben Swift back in great form after his long absence due to a crash several months ago.
The ballot to take part in next year’s RideLondon-Surrey 100 opens next Monday, 10th August. The RideLondon festival will take place on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July 2016.