Here's a recap of a day out of taking two electric bikes into the capital for a relaxing leisure ride.
Braving the weather forecasts Jackie and Ray set out from Chipstead to Coulsdon South on two Scott E Venture electric bikes to take the 9.46 train to London Bridge. This is a 30 minute journey and although they are two full size bikes we were outside rush hour and we looked out for the carriage with red stripes which indicates room for bikes and buggies so no problem. You can use the pull out click straps to secure the bikes and sit down without worrying about them moving about in transit.
At London Bridge it was an easy matter to walk the bikes along the platform and start the journey along Tooley Street crossing the Thames on Tower Bridge and then hugging the riverside paths on the way to the Limehouse Basin which is about two miles east on the North side of the Thames. Take care not to pick up the river Lee which goes further North East but rather look out for the Regents Park Canal where the Tow path is on the East side going North. Limehouse Basin can be accessed by the DLR and although slightly confusing you are soon on the canal and serenely travelling on your way.
The canal travels peacefully through the hubbub of East London and first stop can be Victoria Park where there is a trendy and lively cafe beside the lake for a quality coffee or even a significant breakfast. It is trendy and it is possible to keep an eye on the bikes with a convenient loo stop if required.
Press on and rejoin the canal. Progress is flat and cycling easy except for the odd incline where you can ask the bikes for more assistance and then back off to eco setting to just provide gentle power enabling you to take in the views. Be considerate with walkers although on the day we travelled the towpath was quiet and often we were the only ones using it. Our Scott electric bikes were responsive and comfortable and quiet. The Bosch chain driven system is a delight and you are able to cycle with as much or as little assistance as needed. We carried a pannier on each bike for security locks two charger adaptors (which we didn’t need) and waterproof outers – just in case.
You have to part from the canal at Islington and walk the bikes through the main road but there are crossings and actually we went through the shopping centre taking in the busy buzz. Next is Camden where again you have to come off the towpath but the walk through the market is fun with a cosmopolitan and lively atmosphere.
Drop on the canal again and then cycle to Maida Vale and Little Venice. You will pass through north of Regents Park where on the right you can see the Aviary in the Zoo with exotic birds and on the left some magnificent Regency buildings which are grand with gardens sweeping down to the canal.
We had a traditional pub lunch at the Warwick Castle pub which is just off the canal at 6 Warwick Place (a little road only a few hundred yards from the canal). Fish and Beer batter chips is recommended with a pint of Youngs to slake an “athletes” thirst!!
Fortified we decided to leave the canal at this point and cycled back through central London to Victoria through Hyde Park where a Winter Wonderland was in full swing. 45 minutes rail journey saw us back in Coulsdon and a two mile cycle up the hill to Chipstead completed 22 miles in total with no bars used on our battery meters.
The electric bikes were fantastic and we were asked by two groups about them as we travelled. We felt we had completed a good ride with just enough fresh air and exercise. The canal continues to sweep round the North of London becoming the Grand Union Canal which circles North West London and rejoins the Thames at Brentford. We intend to travel the Western side on another day which looks slightly further but the Google Maps indicate a tow path runs all the way. The beauty of electric bikes is the freedom where if a route does not work you can explore and nothing is lost – a downhill section can be ridden back up without stress. Distance is gobbled up effortlessly.
If you haven’t taken the plunge yet with an electric bike give it a go and try one soon: even somewhere as familiar as your own city can be a place of discovery once more.