2021 Summer Solstice Evening Ride

Posted on behalf of Dominic Hewlett

Image Dominic Hewlett

The longest day occurred on Monday 21st June this year, and the annual Solstice ride took place two days later.

This joint LCC evening ride brings together the boroughs of Kingston, Merton, Richmond, and also Sutton this year.

Merton Cycling Campaign organised their ride to start from Wimbledon station and I joined the group prior to ascending Wimbledon Hill. The route to Wimbledon holds several choices, from the options of following the Wandle Trail or taking the residential side roads. I elected to take the latter with a gentle pedal along a short section of the trail.

Morden was the busiest part but thankfully the traffic was relatively light. The closure of Bishopsford Road Bridge has funnelled urban drivers through Morden Hall Road for two years now, the collapse unexpectedly created a low traffic neighbourhood north and south sides of the Wandle turning Bishopsford Road into sleepy cul-de-sacs.

Thankfully the summer evening was quiet, and heading along the traffic calmed Kenley Road even less busy. Kingston Road has been congested as long as I have known it, but the toucan crossing helped me get across it. Into Henfield Road and Wilton Terrace, the tree lined Victorian streets were dappled in shade is much preferred to the busier clogged main roads.

Swiftly along Dundonald Road led to the one way system and another glut of congestion. Upon departure, the road quickly rose upwards, a wide boulevard could accommodate a segregated cycle lane, but what to do with the emissions of labouring engines?

Parkside must be the narrowest and longest urban road I know, and dotted with traffic islands pinching the minimal road space. Despite constriction to overtaking, drivers were respectful.

The Tibbets Corner roundabout incorporated cycle friendly infrastructure from the outset of the upgrade of the A3. The network of sub road level paths and bridges allow for safe passage of walkers, cyclists, and also horses with a lowered path allowing adequate height clearance for a mounted rider (including their head gear).

It was good to see the Telegraph pub open now, and we continued across Putney Heath down into Roehampton village. The downhill stretch was interrupted by the junction with Roehampton lane, and soon we were freewheeling again for the long run to Roehampton gate.

The light had faded but lights weren’t needed yet. I have read so much of the friction between cyclists and drivers using Richmond Park, did I need to brace myself for unwarranted confrontation? Thankfully no, this was not peak hours of traffic, and there was space to ride, and room to overtake safely.

A final climb up Sawyers Hill to the meet at the Richmond Hill view point, just outside the Roebuck pub didn’t take long.

Soon we were enjoying the sunset, convivial conversation and even a brief appearance of Simon Cowell (his limousine was parked by where we stood). His presence reminded me of his very serious accident involving an e-bike (though considered to be an electric motorcycle), and pondered if it was down to ‘all torque and high waisted trousers’?

Heading home along the same route required headlights, and the marvel of improved lighting technology (LEDs, Lithium batteries, and the electronics which make all work together). I reckon I had a beam illuminating a good 6 to 8 metres ahead of me, with a pure white light, all from a compact form which would fit into a pocket. Thirty years ago I was using a dynamo, and before that some very bulky and poor battery lights. The difference is remarkable.

In total, the easy paced, if slightly hilly, ride was 25 miles (about 40 km), and it’s an annual event, alongside the joint LCC winter ride in December, is worth looking out for and joining.

The route map link here: https://goo.gl/maps/QuC1jYcJzHjax1M17

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