London urban riding challenge will test planning & street smarts over speed

At a loose end in London on Saturday September 21? Ride The Tube is an unusual mixture of urban orienteering and cycling in which riders will aim to accumulate as many points as possible by riding between tube stations.

It’s a bit like the OMM Bike (previously Polaris Challenge) mountain bike events. There are points for each station, and riders have to come up with their own routes between them.

The £25 entry fee allows you to ride in a team of up to five, or on your own if you’re feeling anti-social. You’ll be given a ‘mascot’ when you collect your entry pack from Trafalgar Square at the beginning of the day, and as you make your way round the city you’ll check in at each station by taking a photo of the station, a bicycle, and the mascot.

The points value of each station won’t be revealed until the start of the event, so participants will have to plan their strategy and route on the day. We’re willing to bet that Epping will be worth more points than Charing Cross though.

As well as prizes for the top three on points, there will be mini-challenges through the day as well.

Organiser Nick Christian says the idea came to him after a ride home.

“Recently I rode back to my home in Brixton from playing football in the Camden Town side of Regent’s Park. My journey took me through and past some of London’s proudest sites, from Primrose Hill to Regent’s Street, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and the houses of Parliament at Westminster. And all before I’d even crossed the river. I adore the tube for all that it brings the entire city within reach but force me underground and I’d have seen none of those things.

“Your average cyclist sees more of London in a day than does the typical urban commuter in a month. We know this city better than anyone, giving any black cab driver’s knowledge a real run for its money

“So much of what’s said about cyclists sees us depicted, or depicting ourselves, as either victim or villain. At Ride the Tube we want to help change that by showing that negotiating London by bike can be fun as well as functional, and more than just a death-defying race from home to work and back again.”

Entry fees will all go into prizes and donations to charity. Half the proceeds will be split between three charities: London Cycling Campaign, Wheels for Wellbeing and Herne Hill Velodrome Trust. Nick is alsonalso hoping to be able to make a contribution to Lambeth Cyclists in order to subsidise bike maintenance classes for low income households.

More information at RideTheTube.co.uk.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.