As part of a 2016 plan to try to complete the London Outer Orbital Path (LOOP) in one day it was decided that the first step was to assess the feasibility. (London LOOP=150 miles, wiki: Link)
The feasibility study was to do the much shorter Capital Ring at 75 miles. Coming in to Mid October with 8 or so hours of daylight by this time of year; we headed off following a seemingly sensible plan. (aka London Inner Ring, Wiki: link).
Much conspired to make us realise that the full 150 mile Outer Ring Challenge in a 24 hour period is far from trivial as the timelapse videos taken with the TomTom Bandit show below.
The London Inner Ring is an interesting ride (officially a walk). Highly recommended. There are some really beautiful parks, canals, rivers, a velodrome, views, stadia and of course some grotty areas too. But even if you’ve lived in London for years you will certainly see a different side to London. There was even a bizarre duck farm in Charlton I seem to remember.
WARNING: The entire Inner Ring CANNOT easily be done on a Boris bike. There are some quite hard bits. You probably need a MTB. A road bike would probably puncture.
So, first up, all the cyclists reading this will know that 75 miles in a day is easy. 7 hours conservatively? ahem. Think again.
The issues to overcome are many but my no means daunting:
- Even with a bike navigation device many minor turns to paths are easily missed.
- Some London Boroughs have poor signposting and others experience signs that are defaced or turned around to point the wrong way!
- There are people to slow you down as you pass them courteously
- There are mud, fields and forests to cross
- Many of the paths cannot be cycled on so you might have to make slight detours.
- Batteries – many of your devices might not have as long a battery life as you think!
- Rest stops (I didn’t really stop apart from to change batteries)
- If you plan to maximise the hours of daylight you will be doing this in summer and that will involve HEAT and the need for lots of fluids.
- If you plan to stop to enjoy the scenery this will quickly eat into your time.
- Fuel. A massive breakfast of scrambled eggs, porridge and a few unhealthy things I shouldn’t have, easily fuelled me all the way to Wembley. Probably you’d plan to have more though (I lost my gel packs en-route on a bumpy bit)
- Some roads on the route are no entry/one way.
- Some sections are closed eg around the Velodrome/Olympic Park as West Ham’s developers get to work.
- Some of the hills are fairly steep.
- I had one watch set to beep every 5km and it was almost always taking between 20 and 30 minutes to do 5km. Running pace for many!
- You have to wait for the ferry.
- I would say it is practically impossible to do the route without a Satnav with a GPS map downloaded to it. You could easily do it walking with a paper map but the increased speed of cycling would mean you would miss too many turns. I missed plenty WITH a satnav as you’re also concentrating traffic and other things.
- Weather. It would get very miserable, very quickly if the weather was not good.
Still. It was a very enjoyable challenge.
GPS: Here is a GPS file (it is a .GPS file but you will have to right click and save as and then change the file extension from JPG to GPS, sorry). I created this using the software GPSIES (recommended) to convert another GPS file that I was given by someone else that wouldn’t upload to the MIO 505HC I was using. Lots of the GPS files on the net wouldn’t properly convert so that my Garmin could use them as a course.
- The River – crossing at the Woolwich ferry is free but the foot tunnel there is open, I think, just in case the ferry is not running.
- Traffic is NOT really a problem at the weekend. Most of the roads were VERY quietGoing anti-clockwise from Richmond I managed to get as far as Wembley before I started to run out of daylight and started to get battery warnings. I had no lights and had to stop.
- North of the river was generally faster going with a few tracks following canals and old railway lines. Whichever way you do the route I would leave the easier northern section until last.
- The time lapse videos below are to help you get a feel for the route.
I made some videos with the TomTom Bandit. They are timelapse and so you can have a look through to get a flavour of the route.
Petersham/Richmond to Woolwich Part 2:
Petersham/Richmond to Woolwich Part 2:
Woolwich to Hampstead Part 1:
Woolwich to Hampstead Part 2: