This summer, the Beeline team has taken on the challenge of completing all of the rides in Phoebe Trimingham's You had me at velo! article for Time Out London (June 20-26 edition). Each Friday we'll be giving you the lowdown on one of the eight great cycle routes she's suggested.
This week in the London Summer Series, we'll get a recap of James's ride from Regent's Park to St. Albans. Sometimes rides aren't quite as beautiful or scenic as you envisage - this ride was neither, nor - but that's all part of the adventure.
When James set off on his (mis) adventure with his Beeline, the drizzle was already rapidly becoming a downpour and, in the hopes of making good time, James decided to throw caution to the wind and bomb up the A5 to get to St Albans as directly as possible. A lot of weaving between and around cars/buses and into roundabouts made for a hair-raising cycle and James does not recommend a repeat. No fun at all!
Below is a map and account of the route that he took: think of it as something of a mini 'how not to cycle to St Albans' handbook. At the bottom is a GPX file for a route that we think would be an improvement. Why not give it a try and let us know what you think? Or perhaps you can find one that is even better?
James' route: Regent's Park to St. Albans – a 23 mile journey
Leg I: Regent's Park
The City's Wilderness
The journey begins at Regent's Park; actually, on the road that circles it – cycling is not permitted within the park, so you'll have to park or tow your bike if you're planning to explore the area.
With that in mind, if you haven't visited the park, it's worth checking out! These photos provide a small glimpse into the area's scenery: it's hard to believe you're in the heart of London. If you're in need of some pre-ride fuel, pick up a sandwich and hot drink at The Regent's Bar and Kitchen.
Leg II: Hampstead Heath
London's Vantage Point
Travel to Hampstead Heath, a park two miles north of Regent's. It's quite hilly, which is tough on the thighs, but is rewarded with an incredible view of the city. Again, there's no cycling in the park itself, but there are some roads that traverse it.
Leg III: The A5
Urban to Rural
If you, like James, decide to brave the journey up the A5, the road is two miles to the west from Hampstead Heath. Be careful! It's a long slog up the tarmac and there is little of note aside from an urban to largely rural setting, on this long slog up the tarmac.
Leg IV: St. Albans
The Cosy Town
The undisputed highlight of this ride was actually arriving in St Albans. The city is home to a cathedral built in 1077, which is perhaps one of the city's most iconic artefacts. There's also a city centre to explore containing various restaurants and shops. From there, jump on a train or cycle back to London. James cycled back and had a couple of mishaps along that route too - but that's a story for another time.
This was James's first taste of St. Albans and the city's historic atmosphere has left him eager to return...by a different route! We've put together an alternative (and calmer) route which you can download as a GPX below.
From Nov 25th - Dec 23rd 2017 St Albans is also home to a Christmas Market. The perfect opportunity to combine a good cycle with some last minute shopping.
If decide to cycle to St Albans we'd love to hear about your adventure. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.