Cycling correspondent @Cycle_Whamp clipped in his shoes and checked out a Camden SkyRide. Do with comments or suggestions for bike-related articles.
Since 2009, Sky has been active in sponsoring British cycling. This culminated with Bradley Wiggins’ and Chris Froome’s back-to-back victories in the Tour de France. Yet, professional cycling is a world away from cycling as a mode of transport here in Sky’s home country.
As part of its marketing strategy, Sky therefore took over sponsorship of the old London Freewheel, a mass participation event in central London, and SkyRides was born. Then the Olympics happened with a subsequent mini cycling boom, which resulted in Ride London.
The popularity and practicality of SkyRides means that they have metamorphosed from one central London event into a series of local rides. Last Sunday, I went on a ride around the borders of the borough of Camden. There were about 10 of us, and three Team Leaders. There was also organised first aid and, with a small group, the leaders rode at the front and back of the group.
It was more a gentle spin than a stage of the Tour, and open to anyone who signed up. The aim was to show that everyone can do it, and that cycling is not about lycra and carbon fibre bikes.
We met up at Kenwood House before riding into Highgate and descending through Dartmouth Park to Kings Cross, Clerkenwell, Covent Garden, Tottenham Court Road and Regents Park. We stopped here for a break before returning via St John’s Wood, Maida Vale, Kilburn, West Hampstead – of course – and a climb back to Hampstead Heath. It total we covered about 18 miles in about 3.5 hours with a break.
For me, the highlight was Kings Cross, an area changing rapidly at the moment and seemingly rising up. Talking to the other riders, the most challenging parts of the ride were Covent Garden (pedestrians) and the Kilburn High Road. The High Road is not designed for cyclists and for such a busy road, it is very narrow.
All-in-all, it was a pretty enjoyable event. With autumn already upon us, the season for SkyRides is over but more are planned for next year. I will definitely be going on more local rides, and hopefully more whampers can come along too. After all, the more people take up cycling, the more pressure there is on councils to invest in better cycling infrastructure.