Thursday, 24 July 2014

Olympic Cycling

A few weeks ago I was considering buying a new bike. Not having cycled for years I wanted to make sure I really liked cycling before making such a big purchase. As I'd been looking at Brompton folding bikes it seemed like a good idea to hire a bike from a Brompton Dock and spend an afternoon testing out life on two wheels.

Brompton Dock is a fantastic idea. You register online and for a small membership and subsequent hire fee, you can borrow a folding bike from a locker and use it for the day. It's cheaper than hiring a Boris Bike and because Bromptons fold up you can take them on the Tube and also into buildings if you're going to a meeting, doing a bit shopping or stopping for a bite to eat. We picked up our bikes up from Turnham Green underground station but Docks are opening up everywhere all the time, not just in London but in Oxford, Manchester and lots of other cities across England.

Andy and I decided to head over towards the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. We visited it so many times during 2012 but hadn't been back since the site had been repurposed and reopened. I was dying to go back to the place that holds so many wonderful memories from the Olympics and Paralympics.


Having been very adventurous in carrying the bikes onto the Tube and even changing lines, we got off at Blackhorse Road and walked down to the towpath where we could cycle alongside the River Lea. It was a lovely, easy ride. You can't imagine how nervous I was getting on a bike for the first time in years, especially as I was cycling so close to the water, but I soon got back into it and became quite confident at zipping along. It's definitely true what they say - you never forget how to ride a bike!

I really enjoyed riding alongside the River Lea. We passed through both Walthamstow and Hackney Marshes and they were amazing. I'm not so familiar with this part of London but it's definitely somewhere I want to go back to - they were both such tranquil, calm places in the middle of the city. Such peace! They reminded me of Wormwood Scrubs, which is near me, but with water instead of a mainline train-track running alongside

River Lea Bridge Graffiti
I saw these captions on a couple of the bridges down by the QEOP and just had to take some photos. The wording seemed so appropriate. Who can forget the role of the fantastic Gamesmaker volunteers during London 2012 or fail to appreciate the changes the area has gone through in recent years? From industrial estate to wasteland, then its rejuvenation into a major sports event venue and now a community space, the River Lea has certainly changed beyond imagination!


Andy and I continued through to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and I was absolutely stunned. It is gorgeous. The wildflower planting is now established and looks amazing. Everything looks so natural and like it's been there forever. There's little to suggest that it's only been cultivated there in the last couple of years. The park is really child-friendly and there are lots of play equipment for different ages to use. There are some lovely big ground fountains where children and adults ran through to cool down. Whilst it was busy, it did not feel like you had no personal space, there were lots of hidden corners and benches to relax in. Both Andy (an experienced bike-commuter) and I thought that it was a great place to cycle because the paths are relatively new and are still so smooth. I loved trying to get up lots of speed up and down on the ramps. I felt like a pro - move over Victoria Pendleton!

It was a wonderful sunny afternoon and we'll most definitely be doing this bike ride again. Next time on my very own Brompton bike - I was so taken by the experience that I went out and bought one the next weekend.

Brompton Dock www.bromptondock.co.uk
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park www.queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk

6 comments:

  1. Those wildflowers look fantastic! Glad you had a lovely day cycling :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Louise - it was a great break from the every day in a location we wouldn't often visit! x

      Delete
  2. Oh I love the Olympic park! I think they have done it up so nicely - looks like a wonderful day! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it fantastic! So nice to have something repurposed so usefully and so beautifully! x

      Delete
  3. I have never seen a Brompton folding bike before - what a terrific idea! It looks like you found the perfect place to try it out. Also, I love your outfit :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're beautifully crafted bikes, Shannon. The best thing is that they're designed and manufactured in England, in Brentford which is just around the corner from where I work. My outfit is from White Stuff - just what you need on a hot day when you're working up a sweat! x

      Delete