We met a pizza place near London Fields and joined the flow of riders leaving Hackney just after 8pm. This ride is an amazing and surreal experience, with thousands of riders taking over the roads, some lit up like Christmas trees, others pegging it through the dark and getting to the beach in incredible times. You follow the red lights in front of you most of the way, although not everyone knows where they are going so I was grateful that Adrian had the route on his phone and could be decisive at junctions.
We stopped half way in Sudbury just after midnight for pre-ordered porridge, although if there’s a next time I think I’ll take my chances on the food stalls set up along the route, which are less crowded. There was fantastic support along the way, from families sitting in their gardens, a woman in a dressing gown cheering us on from her front door, and kids shouting ‘Oggy! Oggy! Oggy!’ as we went past. Jacs, Ali and Graham arrived at the beach just after 5am on their superior cycling legs, catching the sunrise. Adrian and I got there an hour later. We had a quick paddle in the sea before joining the queues to get the bikes on the van for the journey back to London.
Chapeau to Southwark Cyclists who are guardians of this ride, keeping it organised enough to enable people to take part while making it very clear that everyone does it at their own risk. Its a logistical nightmare to transport 1000 people and their bikes back to London and reunite them but somehow they manage it.