It was a lovely sunny summer evening, I Managed to blag leaving work earlier, a night free from kids and my Fazer had a full tank of fuel. I really fancied a chippie tea and the Fazer Owner Club – Unofficial were riding into the far reaches of Kent. Like planets falling into alignment, everything was all set. I left central London, down A2 via Blackheath and on to Nell’s Cafe in Gravesend for the rendezvous, where I had a good natter to some of the Kent branch of the IAM (really must do that some day soon). A quick blast down the M2 took us deep into Kent, where top chap Steve led us along some nice twisty country roads before stopping off in Herne Bay for our chippie tea. Not the cheapest Fish’n’Chips, but a decent one it was, and great to sit by the sea eating whilst the sun slowly came down.
Once sated, onwards we rode along some great minor roads and twisty country byways skirting Canterbury and Dover, before finally calling it a day when we had exhausted all daylight.
If you’ve ridden a bike in London in the last year, you are probably more than aware that Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs) are now being enforced and any motor vehicles crossing them after lights have turned red will pick up a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice). This is still very much the case, with almost every junction on Mile End Road being policed today, although no one broke the rules on this occasion.
Although MAG have been campaigning for some time, motorcycle are not allowed to cross the first solid white line and enter the blue cycle box. This is a real shame as it can often lead to bikers stuck beside other vehicles, often not visible (especially if beside a truck or coach) and then unable to get away safely from the traffic as light turn green, due to the throng of cyclists in front. I honestly think the situation needs rethinking to allow cyclists and motorbikes to share the area in from of the ASL, where they are both visible and can safely pull away. Possibly with left reserved for cyclists, the right for motorcyclists. Both groups of cyclists have been sharing bus lanes (with buses and taxis) without issue for a number of years now.
A couple of months ago a 16 year old kid, also named Arthur, posted on London Bikers, requesting an escort for his upcoming school prom night. Not really needing much of an excuse for a ride out, a large group jumped at the opportunity with one prominent forum member offering a pillion seat on his swish Ducati Pangile 1199. Last night was Prom night and what a night it was.
Around 30-40 bikers descended on Arthur’s house, where his family fed us all tea and biscuits. We then set off for a brief ride out around Epping forest with a quick stop at the high Beach Tea Hut, before continuing to the hotel hosting the prom night, for our big entrance. We arrived in force, made loads of noise and had few burn outs all to the cheers of the Prom school kids. We definitely went down as one of the more memorable Prom arrivals.
We then returned to Borough Market for the weekly London Biker meet, then finished the night off with a pit stop at the Blackheath tea hut. I hear Arthur pulled a couple of girls at the Prom, so all in all, a great fun night to be had by all!
Update: Check out this video compilation of the Prom Night ride, thanks to Sam Bird:
On Sunday 25 May, Paris bore witness to an unusual sight: 200 motorcycle riders revving their vintage and customised bikes through the streets, leaving the city with a noisy crescendo that turned the heads of all around.
It was a one-of-a-kind event organised by RRL – Ralph Lauren’s denim line inspired by Americana and authentic, traditional workwear – in conjunction with Paris’ own resident hipster bike mechanics from Blitz Motorcyles.
The route was 99 km and lasted for three hours, heading in a loop through Versailles, the Chateau de Dampierre and Saint Cyr l’Ecole, before finishing at the Ralph Lauren flagship store on the Boulevard St Germain, which had been decked out in vintage petrol pumps and bales of hay, to help add to the sense of adventure.
The other night The London Bikers organised a night to remember, a midnight ride ride across the city hooning past all the sights. What made it special was the immense turnout (over 50 bikers), the gorgeous warm evening and amazing atmosphere from fellow bikers and the crowds spectating and cheering us all on. With Miss Plum getting everyone organised and leading the ride, we all had a top night we’ll always remember.
Our ride started at Oval Motorcycle Centre, then on out across Battersea Bridge into Chelsea and Knightbridge, before whizzing past Wellington Arch, Buckingham Palace before a quick pit stop on the Mall overlook St James Park. Then on past Trafalgar Square and looping up round into Soho via Frith Street, before heading down past Downing Street, the Cenotaph, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey and across the river for a second stop by Waterloo and the London Eye. Back in the saddle we went North of the river again, zoomed past Aldwych and Royal Courts or Justice, down Fleet Street and our third stop outside St. Pauls cathedral, for a perfect photo opportunity. Off again, hanging a right by the Bank of England and South over London Bridge, past Southwalk cathedral, Borough Market, the Shard and then crossing the river again over Tower Bridge, lit up beautifully.
… a stop at the wonderful 24 hour Beigel shops for some much needed sustenance and a mix with Shoreditch hipsters leaving their night clubs and bars.
We continued North weaving through the streets and up to Brick Lane and a stop at the wonderful 24 hour Beigel shops for some much needed sustenance and a mix with Shoreditch hipsters leaving their night clubs and bars. To finish off, we continued East onto the Isle of Dogs and took a tour through the ghostly skyscrapers of Canary Wharf all lit up and towering overhead. The original plan was to continue on to Greenwich, but alas the Blackwall tunnel was shut for maintenance.
All in all, it was a wicked night, it was great to get out with Mary pillion (sorely missing a bike of her own) and great to see all of London’s landmarks lit up. Everything went swimmingly, even if group of us sometimes got separated momentarily.
Whether you’re a new biker looking for places to ride, or a seasoned biker in need of fresh routes to try, here is a round up of my favourite routes. Many eminate from East London and out into Essex, Herts, Beds or Suffolk, but some stretch further afield across middle England into Wales and such like.
By gum, a mid week ride out, what’s that all about? With kids at school, the weather forecast predicting summer arriving and the two of us in dire need of a break, we booked a day off and hit the road. The plan was to hit the infamous Burnham Bends (around Burnham-on-Crouch), then double back, through Chelmsford and out to Bishops Stortford following the A1060. But wait, Mary was having a wardrobe malfunction: her old leather trousers were hideously baggy after recent dieting, but the interim pair bought cheap off ebay seemed to fit, but had no give in them and prevented her getting her leg over the bike. Not good. A quick pit stop at J&S Gants Hill sorted us out with a pair Frank Thomas trousers that fit and didn’t break the bank. Sorted. Now back on the road.
Throughout my riding in London I constantly witness a multitude of situations unfolding on the busy roads, that make me cringe and say to myself ‘knew they were going to do that!’ As a biker, you need this kind of sixth sense to remain upright and safe. For seasoned bikers it will be instinct and an unconscious reflex, however for new riders it will be a skill that may need developing.
Please watch my videos, see if you can predict what is about to happen and spot the tell tail signs that give it away. I hope you find them interesting and possibly learn something that may help you on the roads.
Wednesday night means one thing – London Bikers Borough Market meetup or LB BM as it’s often more succinctly known. With all the chaos on the roads due to the prevailing tube strike, it was a welcome opportunity to chill out for a bit and let the carnage dissipate a little before undertaking the commute home.
Had a great ride out yesterday with the Fazer Owners Club (Unofficial). The weather was a bit grey and rain was hinted at, but luckily we escaped it all and had a great ride. Starting out at the Silver Ball Cafe on the A10 just South of Royston, we made our via some back roads to Finchingfield in Essex. A picturesque village with a super little cafe and a popular pitstop for lots of bikers. Once sated, we set off South down to High Beach tea hut in Epping Forest.
Overall a chilled out ride, with some good company, top stuff all round.