A sunny Sunday set the stage for Beeline ambassadors Jayne and Sam's Tour de Londres race. As in previous years, all competitors met at Hammersmith Broadway for a staged race between Boris bike docks across London.
This year, each competitor was equipped with a Beeline to help them find their way. The only question was whether to play it safe with Route Assistant or to back yourself with Compass Mode.
Our Community Manager Kate and Co-founder Tom both entered this year's competition with Tom finishing a solid middle of the pack and Kate cycling her socks off to come dead last. Mixed results but, most importantly of all (apparently), they both had fun!
Here's Kate's account of the day.
It was with eager anticipation and butterflies in my belly (I'm a competitive soul) that I finished the last of my huge bowl of porridge and headed to Hammersmith to take part in the race. In fact, it was my first cycle race ever! I've always been more of a slow and steady and enjoy the view rider than a head down, elbows out, white-knuckle power peddaler - but I was prepared to change my style for a crack at the yellow jersey.
After convening Sam and Jayne led us to the first station next to Hammersmith Broadway and, Boris bikes newly hired, we enjoyed a leisurely warm-up and cheerful chit-chat as we cruised along High Street Kensington to get to Hyde Park. Jayne blasted along, marking herself as the cyclist to beat; you had to be able to pass Jayne to be in with any chance at all.
At Hyde Park Sam talked us all through the route and ran us through the rules:
- the clock started and stopped with the withdrawal and return of a Boris bike to and from each station
- the winner would be the rider with the shortest aggregate time at the end of the final stage
and so we set off.
Optimistic about my chances of winning, I grabbed a Boris bike and set off to the first waypoint: the next station in the NE corner of the park. For a glorious 500m I had the lead (I suspect only because the others hadn't yet taken out their bikes) but had it swept out from under me as I was overtaken by Tom at West Carriage Drive. My plan had been to skirt the bottom of the park before heading North but I threw caution to the wind and abandoned it in favour of pursuing my boss across along the central road.
I pedalled just about as hard as a Boris bike allows you to pedal but found myself thwarted by a large group of tourists at a zebra crossing and watched Tom gain a considerable lead and my hopes of a first stage victory fade hopelessly quickly. Soon after, Jayne, too, overtook me and her light work of the slight inclines in the park saw her disappear into the distance too. Now determined not to earn myself last position in the first stage, I sped as quickly as I could to the nearest Boris bike station I could remember. But it was closed! Now on the pavement, I jumped off my bike and ran back and forth to several more (to the bemusement of the tourists I weaved past) before finding an empty dock; well and truly last. Stage one 1- Kate 0.
Stage two saw the first major landmarks of the ride as we crossed Green Park to wave to the Queen at Buckingham Palace and finish at St James' Park. Again, I finished at the wrong docking station but the effort was more solid than the one before and I hoped to have made up some time.
Five minutes wait for the Boris bike time-reset to pass and we were back on the road - heading, this time, to the Imperial War Museum. Knowing that the roundabout, and all its traffic lights, at Waterloo could be a time-waster I opted to ride over Lambeth bridge and was rewarded with some beautiful views along the river of the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament on the cloudless May day. I powered along Lambeth Road to see that only Jayne had beaten me to the docking station. What joy! But, of course, my excitement was short lived as I was overtaken by both Sam and Tom just before the final traffic light (which caught me at a red) and my hopes for second were short lived. A strong middle of the pack effort nonetheless!
Stages four saw us head back north of the river and down The Strand for a refreshment break at The Harp before stage five up to Old Street. For stage five I took a route that was less direct but that had larger roads: all I needed to do was to bomb it down Theobald's Road and Old Street and I had a chance of beating everyone but Jayne...I thought. Alas, I seemed to have picked the furthest route and, again, arrived at the station after everyone else.
Oh well! With one final chance for glory, I carefully planned my final stage between Old Street and Euston Taps to be as flat as possible and hopefully give myself a chance of coming not-last across the finish line. I got off to a good start back down Old Street before hitting a string of traffic lights and watching my hopes of last-dash victory fade from green to amber to red. One final hop-off-and-sprint across a pedestrian crossing and I dropped my bike off at the station...last again (apologies to anyone who was hoping for an inspiring story of underdog triumph).
And so we ended the day exactly how any good day in the saddle should end: over a pint. Congratulations to Jayne who claimed a convincing victory. We'll all be putting in the miles to challenge you better next year!