The curse of the Urban RetroBike tour strikes again, yes bad weather, today was forecast to be the warmest so far, even into double figures! Unfortunately precipitation was going to be the issue this time, even my postman quipped that I should be "home by 1pm" as he saw my readying to leave in fine sunny morning weather, it wasn't a day to be hanging about.
On Friday night I found myself packing sailing waterproofs as well as the more normal riding gear. Likewise I wanted to take out the Marin Muirwoods, but went for the wet weather friendly option of my Muddy Fox Tourist hybrid, with its freshly fitted new SKS lightweight mudguards.
I met up with al-onestare at East Croydon station in fine weather, but with the forecast in mind made a steady run over to Blackheath for the obligatory picture at the statue of General Wolfe. With only moments to spare I enjoyed the delightful run down the hill to the Cutty Sark to pick up Secret Squirrel. He was easily identifiable by the blingtastic nature of his Orange, mmm carbon fibre titanium composite forks yummy! It was then that the first few spots of rain were felt and the clock was ticking.
We headed straight over to Stratford via some the rougher areas of East London "Some nice places you take us to, Purley" was quipped, the joy of this ride, I explained is in the contrasts. We picked up the Regents Canal, stopping for a quick break at a new canal side place near Haggerston. Shortly after the curse of the Kona struck, with al-onestare suffering a puncture at exactly the same spot as fellow Kona rider Watley Meister had his first puncture on Urban RetroBike #2! The puncture was soon located in the inner tube, meanwhile I checked the outer casing, turning it inside out and feeling with my fingertips for the cause and finding nothing.
The wheel was reassembled and inflated only to immediately deflate due the large fragment of glass embedded right through it that I had totally failed to spot, what a school boy error. Luckily, I had a spare inner tube of a suitable size in my kit and the tyre was reassembled again, with better result this time.
Fortunately this was the only mechanical issue for the entire journey and with the temperature falling, wind picking up and clouds looking ever more threatening time was definitely not on our side.
Crowd barriers were already being installed at St Paul's Cathedral in advance of the funeral of Margaret Thatcher, which, along with roadworks, made the usual photo opportunity difficult. Likewise, at Trafalgar Square, a crowd was gathering to celebrate the death of Margaret Thatcher, although to be honest, judging by the amount of fluorescent yellow on show, the Police presence was somewhat disproportionate in my opinion.
As the boys didn't want to do photos at Buckingham Palace we headed straight to Vauxhall, Secret Squirrel staying with us as far as the river. Then it was heads down for the long stretch South into a gathering headwind.
I surprised myself by managing to ride the direct route up to the top of Crystal Palace Hill, al-onestar overtaking me and once he was out of sight, I made a sneaky halt for a minute's breather. As al-onestare was heading in the direction of Bromley, we tried a run through the paths in Crystal Palace Park, which were rather good and preferable to the local roads, certainly worthy of further investigation in future.
The rain really set in on the last 20 minutes of the journey home, I even stopped under the Croydon flyover and donned my Helly Hansen sailing jacket to get some additional protection. Hopefully, one day we might even make this trek in fine weather, take in the views and amble along without risking hypothermia, or drowning.