I finally popped my Embankment cherry proper last night. After contemplating it for a while I decided last night to give it a crack properly. My slap-dash research on BikeHike showed I’d be adding about 5 miles to my journey (or 50% which sounds much more impressive!) bring me to just shy of 15 miles.
It was a pretty straightforward affair as I joined Upper Thames Street by London Bridge and then proceeded to race westbound, following the road beside the Thames. Gave the legs a good stretch heading through Blackfriars Tunnel on what is still familiar ground as I’ve ridden this section before!
Eventually arrive at the lights by Vauxhall Bridge road and then have a gent on a SS bike whip past me on my right! Immediately the red mist descended and I stomped on the pedals to catch him….it was then I realized I committed the ultimate sin and jumped a red light 😦
The guy was cetainly quick and I was now entering un-known territory and the section lovingly referred to as Death Star Canyon, a reference to the Death Star sequence in Star Wars where Luke is flying low through the narrow sections of the ship, as the buildings that suddenly appear around you have a similar effect. Not that I really noticed as my sights where firmly locked onto the red light of the bike ahead of me.
I managed to get past but no sooner was I battling away in clean air then 2 roadies come past me with the same ferocity that I normally pass others! Looks like I’ve found me next prey – I immediately join on the pack of their train we have chug along at a healthy pace towards the queuing cars past Battersea Bridge. What happened for the next 3/4 mile can only be described as some death-defying filtering as the 3 of us made rather rapid progress through the traffic, weaving in and out of cars and avoiding wing mirrors by mere cm’s! I got caught out a few times by poor filtering choices which made it all the more fun as I just needed to put in a bit more effort to catch them!
I spotted an opening in traffic as we passed Battersea Bridge and put the hammer down. I knew what was going to happen as for them, much like me, a cyclist passing is like a red rag to a bull! I held onto pole position until just before the road headed North. We all turned onto Kings Road and the action continued…..I did a frankly silly undertake on a Merc SL350 who was indicating left, to stay in touch and eventually parted ways as I turned down Wandsworth Bridge Road.
I managed to get my breath back on the brief rest period I had there before encountering not one but two other worthy foe on the way home. First was just off the south side of Wandsworth Bridge past the roundabout. A decent pace combined with a ramp meant my legs just didn’t want to play ball 😦
The second rider was a complete ejit. Rather quick with a good turn of speed but at each set of lights we’d arrive at he’d RLJ. I’d then catch him and we’d do the same at the next set. The biggest surprise tho was that he was headed along an identical route to me! My competitive side wasn’t going to let this one go and consequently it meant a very decent pace for the rest of the ride home, with me leading for about 2 miles at one point!
All in I can safely say that last nights commute was one of the best I’ve ever had, Embankment lived up to everything I’ve heard about it and the quality of riders was a gulf apart from what I’ve encountered on my normal routes – normally I might find 1 maybe 2 riders a month who’d require me to push myself like I did last night so to find 4 or 5 in one go was a welcome surprise!
I suspect come the summer months I’ll be a regular along there, even if it does mean arriving home 25 minutes later 🙂