London Bike Video Adventure – The Capital Ring / Inner Ring

Capital Ring

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:

  1. Even with a bike navigation device many minor turns to paths are easily missed.
  2. Some London Boroughs have poor signposting and others experience signs that are defaced or turned around to point the wrong way!
  3. There are people to slow you down as you pass them courteously
  4. There are mud, fields and forests to cross
  5. Many of the paths cannot be cycled on so you might have to make slight detours.
  6. Batteries – many of your devices might not have as long a battery life as you think!
  7. Rest stops (I didn’t really stop apart from to change batteries)
  8. 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.
  9. If you plan to stop to enjoy the scenery this will quickly eat into your time.
  10. 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)
  11. Some roads on the route are no entry/one way.
  12. Some sections are closed eg around the Velodrome/Olympic Park as West Ham’s developers get to work.
  13. Some of the hills are fairly steep.
  14. 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!
  15. You have to wait for the ferry.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

KIT: An old MTB, new Favero bePRO power meter pedals, MIO Cyclo 505HC bike satnav, Garmin 920XT, TomTom Bandit.

Petersham/Richmond to Woolwich Part 2:

Petersham/Richmond to Woolwich Part 2:

Woolwich to Hampstead Part 1:

Woolwich to Hampstead Part 2:

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8 thoughts on “London Bike Video Adventure – The Capital Ring / Inner Ring

  1. Pretty Cool!
    Quick one: Do I really need a MTB or it will be fine with a gravel bike/cyclocross bike.
    Looking at the time lapse movies, it does not seem to ever be getting technical.

    1. capital ring challenge: under 8 hours. good luck. I;ve not quite done that but it’s easily possible with good nav skills.

      there are a few steep bits where thin tyres wont help but 98% should be fine with a gravel bike.

      1. Thanks a lot! I will try this one in July.
        On your side, did you ever attempt the LOOP in the end? I thought you did, but I could not find that post of yours when you talk about it.
        All the best.

      2. where are you starting from?
        LOOP: I’ve tried a few bits of it. Got lost in the NW section in a forest. basically tried to do the northern half in one day but it was hard. and tried the southern half the year before and almost did that. so no i have not done it. it’s jsut about possible in mid-summer with lots of daylight and lots of organisation
        with either one you REALLY NEED to avoid getting lost – it adds LOTS of time. first time you do the capital ring you’d be lucky to do 10 hours. your satnav will run out of juice and you wont be able to easily get into Hampstead park (i think that’s one with wierd gates)

        but. it’s worth it. you see a whole different side to london and its quite an achievement doing it on one day.
        i was thinking of having a crack at 8 hours this year.

      3. I will actually be starting from Hampstead, I live right by the park. I think I will be happy with 12 hours! But yeah, thanks for the tips, I will make sure I have juice both on the Garmin and the One+. I have downloaded your GPX file.
        Looking forward to hear about the LOOP one day! Keep it up!

  2. Hello and thanks for this excellent review. A friend sent me the link with your comment that “the Capital Ring cannot easily be done on a boris bike.” I did so in a day for charity at the end of May last year and I’d be keen to know if it’s been tried before or since (I don’t think it has). It took me 15 hours (9am-midnight) going clockwise from Richmond. The cycling part was fine but the navigating added several hours as I didn’t have a GPS map so I had to keep stopping and seeing where I was on a “google my maps” map. I might try it again though I would make sure to start earlier and have proper navigation!

    1. Well done. That is excellent. A Boris bike is REALLY heavy. I’ve done the loop several times now starting at Richmond as well. With a map and once you know where you are going, even a heavy old MTB can be lugged around in less than 8 hours. To get under 7 hours is readily possible but you’d need to be pretty fit, have a light bike and never get lost.

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