Dec 21st 2019. Finally did our bicentenary ride, 200 years from birth of both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Report from Ride Leader Werner. Photos by Philippa. More at https://www.facebook.com/philippa.goffe/posts/2386244771503637
Heavy rain earlier at the time when decisions were made whether to join the traditional Saturday-before-Christmas +-ride around the West End deterred some. Eight of us met at the Park Life Cafe in Burgess Park for the Saturday-before-Christmas + ride around the West End. This year we were not only to look at the Christmas decorations but also undertake a double-birthday celebration: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were both born in 1819.
We set off in dry weather. Usefully the earlier rain had also kept away some Park Runners and we didn’t have to try so hard to avoid them. We even got a bit of sunshine and enjoyed the rainbow over VICTORIA Embankment.
Up to High Holborn to introduce Prince ALBERT to the riders who had gone past hundreds of times without realising who the polite gentleman on the statue is. We raised our caps to him and continued to Lincoln’s Inn Fields. So far it had been a quiet ride but when we got to Covent Garden we found out where all the people were. For some years Seven Dials has put up impressive lights, this year they had made another effort and didn’t disappoint. Crossing Cambridge Circus we had to keep our eyes at ground level but we turned left immediately into Soho and used Noel Street as an excuse to wish Joyeux Noël.
Carnaby St on our left had put up decorations to convince customers that it has survived the garments sold there in the sixties. The Regent St decorations are not that impressive in daylight but New Bond St made up or it. Traffic in Mayfair was friendlier than on other rides, maybe the locals were on private islands in the Caribbean. The work in Grosvenor Square to convert the US embassy into a hotel has begun, we didn’t see Ronnie’s statue and wondered whether he is in a removal crate in the Battersea basement.
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park but limited overspill of pedestrians and we rode along North Carriage Drive and CS3 before stopping and admiring the ALBERT memorial. Everybody knew the ALBERT Hall across the road but not the Great Exhibition memorial next to it. Then into ALBERTopolis proper through IMPERIAL College with the QUEEN’s Tower on our left before locking up the bikes near the appropriate place to order anniversary coffees, the cafe in the newish Exhibition Road courtyard of the VICTORIA&ALBERT Museum offered lots of space and quick service.
The coffee was refreshing but some riders still suggested to shorten the return trip as they were expected at home to help Santa with preparations. So no stop at Harrods to buy presents for the ride-leader, instead some more CS3 in Hyde Park and down Constitution Hill for Buckingham Palace and Queen VICTORIA’s statue. Birdcage Walk going west is now also segregated, quiet roads through Westminster and Pimlico took us to Vauxhall Bridge and the ALBERT Embankment. We got back to Burgess Park slightly early.
Some more photos by Bruce below