It's time for another new series with komoot to kick off the new year, bringing you a collection of great routes each month grouped by geographic location, type of cycling discipline and more. If you live in London* (or happen to be visiting with the bike in tow soon) then this first instalment is for you!
> Coffee & ride with komoot: Brad's Four Boroughs Bimble
While it can sometimes be pretty terrifying to ride in the capital at the best of times, you'd be surprised how easy it can be to get out of the city and into the countryside if you know where to go. London also has a pretty vast and enthusiastic cycling scene, so you'll always be able to find like-minded people to ride with by joining clubs or meet-up groups, enabling you to find other cyclists to take on adventures outside of the city.
Bradley Shenton tells us more...
A Londoner's guide to getting out of London
Before diving into the rides that get you out of London, let me start by highlighting some of the reasons I think London is such an amazing place to live as a cyclist.
First off, the community. From what I can see, and I've lived here for five years, is that there are some pretty special people out there trying to make sure there is a group, team, community or session for anyone looking to get into cycling, or improve their riding. This could be joining the recently launched Rapha 101+ Monday morning laps around Regent's Park, aimed at new cyclists or those new to group riding, or at the other end of the scale, Crystal Palace crits on a Tuesday night. These races see some of the city's best riders tackling arguably one of the most fun crit courses in the country.
Continuing the community theme, a special mention needs to go to Herne Hill Velodrome. It's the place I really fell in love with cycling, and found the community I was looking for.
There are sessions daily, from Frog Bike ride for the little ones, to sessions for veterans during the week. You also can’t mention Herne Hill without including the Wednesday night Track League, a hotly contested grass roots league that even saw World Tour pro Fred Wright get involved last year. It’s a local league with no BC points on offer, but it doesn’t make it any less competitive. If you find yourself in London on a Wednesday night, head down to the velodrome, grab yourself a beer and get ready to watch the locals battle it out.
Talking of track cycling, us Londoners are fortunate enough to have two velodromes at our disposal, with Herne Hill in the south and Lee Valley situated in East London. Lee Valley is more than just an velodrome, offering a safe space for riders to train with their outdoor cycling circuit open for weekly sessions, plus a place to hone your BMX skills if you wish.
You can even get your ‘hill’ climbing fix in certain places. Swains Lane would be the most notable, and then further afield you have the cycling hotspot of Richmond Park, that is always worth a mention.
While a lot of people do complain about riding in London, it isn’t all bad! Let's be hnest though, the best roads are outside of the city, so here is a run down of the surrounding areas and a few highlighted routes for you to take on...
Get out of London! A selection of routes that start in the capital and take you into the countryside
> Get started with komoot
Above is a link to the full collection on komoot, and below we'll run through each route and a little bit about the regions we're starting from. If you haven't already got komoot to downloads the routes onto your phone or GPS, refer to our guide linked above and here to get started...
South East London
I’m based in SE London, so it only makes sense to start there as most of my rides do... well, pretty much all of them do!
My usual starting spot is Four Boroughs Cafe and from there, you can get out into the lanes relatively quickly via West Wickham and into Kent.
Kent is my main stomping ground and has so much to offer. There is plenty of climbing, quiet lanes and a whole host of great cafe stops, which is the main reason we ride, right?
You can also get into Surrey via Croydon. The journey isn’t too long, and anyone who has ridden around the Surrey Hills will confirm that it is worth the trip.
South East, ride 1
This 62km route sees you start in Dulwich, and takes you out through Surrey and into Kent. 540m of elevation means that there are a couple of stingers on route, but it's mostly gentle climbs and stunning views!
Contributor: Brad Shenton
South East, ride 2
This longer 113km epic takes you through the famous medieval Ightham Village, and includes the Ide Hill climb. 1,250m of climbing should keep your warm art this time of year!
Contributor: Brad Shenton
Most rides out from SW London will either start from Richmond Park, or at least route via Richmond Park.
One main attraction is to ride out to Cinnamon Cafe; riders heading out from here usually call it the ‘Bun Run’. I haven’t included the route because in all honesty, the cafe is great but most of the surrounding roads and routes to it are really busy. You’re better off heading into Surrey, joining the crowds of riders around Dorking with Box Hill and Leith Hill the main attractions. There’s plenty of additional sublime road riding surrounding the area.
The route we have for you is a favourite suggested by friend of road.cc, Jake Neale.
South West ride
This is a challenging 107km route with some lungbusters thrown in, including Combe Lane Climb, Ranmore and the Coldharbour Lane climb.
Contributor: Jake Neale
South London ride
Now we're talkin'! Departing from south London, you'll take on Box Hill, Devil's Dyke and much more over this 182km ride. Fuelling stations includes Flinders Coffee in the city and the Royal Oak pub at the 80km point.
Contributor: Brad Shenton
Escaping London to the North, you’re likely to be heading out via Hampstead Heath towards Barnet. Initially the roads are going to be busy and there are steep climbs, most notably Swains Lane, but we’d recommend bypassing that one. As you get up to Barnet the hard work pays off as you are rewarded with some great views back towards the city, and you can enjoy gliding down into open countryside towards Hertfordshire.
If you;re looking for a shorter route then the country lanes around Potters Bar offer great riding, or you could carry on and join up with the Alban Way into St Albans. The Alban Way is a trail for cyclists and walkers along a disused section of the Great Northern Railway, between the historic towns of St Albans and Hatfield.
For riders looking to cover a bit more distance, Spokes Cycles, a bike workshop serving great coffee out of an iconic 1964 Citroen H van, based at Ridge Farm in Codicote, is a popular target and a highlight in our Northern Escape #2.
Heading back towards London you can expect much of the same, you’ll need to get up to a high point around Barnet, before descending back towards the City with one or two more kickers on the final stretch, probably around Highgate, so expect to be pushing the limits all the way until you make it back.
For these rides, we've got James Ambrose-Parish on board to supply the routes...
North London ride 1
One of our shorter routes (but by no means short!) you can even do a bit of giraffe-spotting on this lovely route. Other highlights include Tyttenhanger Park and Folly Arch.
Contributor: James Ambrose-Parish
North London ride 2
At 117km with just under 1000m of elevation, this ride that heads north will make for a mighty day in the saddle. You'll go as far as Hitchin in North Hertfordshire and face some pretty steep ascents and descents in places along the way...
Contributor: James Ambrose-Parish
East London riders tend to head out into Essex, and for good reason. Plenty of countryside, mainly rolling terrain compared to the hills of Kent, and long stretches of fast open roads.
Hucks Cafe is a popular starting point, as per the route we have for you suggested by Benjamin May. You tend to find that there is mainly one way out and one way back, so you should easily be able to find some riding buddies!
East London ride
This 78km intermediate ride has some lovely stretches of quiet road, and you'll pass Fyfield village, the popular Norton Heath Cafe and Knotts Hill on route.
Contributor: Benjamin May
*Don't live in London? Neither do we, so of course we'll be bringing you guides from other regions of the UK in future instalments of this series!
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