London cyclist creates 'Oyster Wheel' eight-day orbital route around capital - and it's amazing

Some possible route tips if you're doing the Festive 500 - but leave the road bike at home...

Just in time to give cyclists in the capital who are attempting this year’s Rapha Festive 500 some route ideas – although perhaps while riding something better able to cope with mixed terrain than a road bike – a London cyclist has devised what he calls the ‘Oyster Wheel’, a 500-kilometre loop around the capital, broken down into eight stages that can be completed on successive days and reachable by train.

Writing on the London Cycling page on Facebook, where his idea got a terrific reception, Tim Boden said: “I’ve been designing and riding over the summer a multi-day circuit of London for hybrid bikes using whenever possible NCN routes (1, 4, 6, 13, 20, 21, 22, 61, 136, 137, and 177) as well as Regional Routes and the odd bridleway.

“I’ve called it the Oyster Wheel as the start and end of each day is at a London Oyster/Contactless station for ease of access.

“Overall it’s a little under 500km over 8 days. If people are interested in finding out more, then you can find more details on my blog page “Oyster Wheel” from which you’ll find links to the site that I’ve set up to describe it.”

Explaining the rationale behind it on his blog, Boden says: “The Oyster Loop is an eight-day circuit of London for hybrid bikes using Oyster/contactless cards to get to rail/tube stations at the start and end of each day.

“The advantage of starting and finishing rides at Oyster card stations is the ease of getting through the station with a bike. Each day consists of a ride of 50-70km suitable for a hybrid bike, culminating in the ascent of Box Hill.”

As to why he devised the route, he says: “When researching a London orbital ride I could only find single day marathons riding as quickly as possible whilst keeping as close as possible to the M25, so I decided to create one myself. I needed some rules to frame this:

  1. It should be capable of being undertaken by normal cyclists using hybrid bikes.
  2. The route should be accessible easily by public transport from central London for each day, using contactless/Oyster to facilitate passage through the stations.
  3. It should be prioritised to off-road but capable of being ridden by normal touring bikes with 38c tyres.
  4. It should use Sustrans routes where available, and other local authority routes such as the Surrey Cycleway when not, using local bridleways and finally roads when these were unavailable.
  5. Each day should be 50-70km in length, so 4-5hrs cycling time.
  6. It should finish with a climb of Box Hill.

He has also devised eight rides back from those same stations to Tower Bridge, which he terms the ‘Oyster Spokes’.

He added: “I created the Oyster Wheel whilst supporting my wife who is suffering from Pancreatic Cancer.

“If having tried out the Routes you would like to donate to Pancreatic Cancer then my donations page can be found at Oyster Wheel Donations.”

There’s plenty of decent riding to be had on the routes Boden has designed, and we’re looking forward to giving them a go at some point.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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