Marathon Starts and Course

This was a very succesful development of Simon K’s annual Marathon Starts ride. As well as riding from Canada Water to Blackheath to look at the complex start arrangements for the London Marathon, we added the option to ride the first 6 miles of the course (led by Bruce).

20 riders departed Canada Water alomg Cycleway 14 heading to the river then followed the Thames Path to Deptford Creek. After crossing the swing bridge cut inland to Greenwich Park. Collected another 5 riders there and cycled (or partly walked) up the hill to General Wolff. At the statue Simon gave us a brief account of the history of the London Marathon, includng his history of 20 odd marathons completed (many as a chicken!). We then cycled on to Blackheath to the area where the elite and wheelchair starts are located. At this point Simon unfortunately punctured. This caused a bit of a delay, but eventaully the magic gunk was persuaded to enter the tyre and this reinflated.

This was the moment for the riders (6 in number) who wanted a short ride to take an inland route back to Canada Water. This they did, although Simon’s tyre failed to stay inflated and he was pretty much on his rims by the time Canada Water was reached. The other 19 riders set off on the non-elite course towards Charlton. Brief stop at Charlton House then on to Woolwich, incuding a short stretch of the South Circular (fast downhill and light traffic, so OK). The course turns at Woolwich and heads back towards Central london. For the first 2km along the A206 there is no segregation. There are stretches of painted cycle track and quite a bit of bus lane. Again traffic was light so this potentially difficult stretch passed without problems. About here we noticed a blue dashed line on the carriageway that cut the corners on the racing line. Suggstion is that this line gives the exact marathon distance from start to finish and is used by the pace runners so that they lead the elite runners on the optimal path.

After Anchor and Hope Lane the left side cycle lane is segregated with wands for 150m. At the Gallions Rd lights, there is a cycle crossover phase to a bidirectional segregated cycle track. This is the start of Cycleway 4 and continues, with gaps at the 1-way systems at Greenwich and Surrey Quays, all the way to Tower Bridge. Just after the crossover we stopped at Costa for a drinks and loo break (loos in nearby Marks and Spencer were popular!).

Continued along the A206 through the Angerstein juncion (clever cycle route there), until the segregated C4 route ran out at Christ Church. Due to congestion left the marathon route along Trafalgar Rd for a short stretch, then rejoined at Park Row. Stayed on the Greenwich 1-way system rather than following the marathon route round Cutty Sark. At Deptford Creek the cycleway restarts and we joined this and followed to where it runs out approaching the Surrey Quays 1-way system. Did not fancy riding Lower Rd against the traffic, so took back streets and paths to Greenland Dock and rejoined the marathon route in Redriff Rd. For a brief section followed the route along Surrey Quays Rd then left it to return to Canada Water.

Very interesting using the main roads. We usally avoid these. Much of the route through Charlton and Woolwich is not segregated, although there are short bits of unsegregated cycle lane and some bus lanes. With the light traffic on the day of the ride, did not have any problems. Might be very diferent in week day traffic. Was noticable that we made excellent time on those main road stetches.

Many thanks to Mike for backmarking.

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