My original plan was to get some nice cross country riding in and then head up into London via Box Hill in Surrey, the A3 and the A406, but I swiftly became inpatient and after hitting a bit of the A272, decided to take the more direct route and headed straight up the A3 at the earliest opportunity.
After stopping for fuel and a bit of re-hydration, I headed into the belly of the beast and was immediately taken aback by the marked increase in speed cameras, both average and static.
The real benefit to riding a bike in London has always been the progress you can make through the traffic and I was able to take advantage of this to a certain extent, but I found myself being overly conscious of watching for cameras and not actually paying attention to what was going on around me. You may read this and think that I was caning it through the streets of London, well I wasn't. I kept my speed down, but still I found myself distracted and I'm a fairly experienced rider.
After a really great catch up with Bill, I started heading home. My planned route was out of Farringdon, along The Embankment, through Parliament Square, and out via Battersea and Wandsworth.
As the road layout had changed, I ended up going through Waterloo, Elephant and Castle, Streatham and Brixton. Thankfully traffic wasn't too bad, but the omnipresent restrictions and constant speed changes (they've dropped the speed to 20mph across much of the route) were a constant distraction. Look, I'm sure that the councils have the best interests of their residents in mind with these overly zealous restrictions, but drivers who are more concerned with drifting a few mph over and therefore staring at their speedo, are far more dangerous that travelling safely at a set speed, like you know, 30mph. I would be interested to see the data that has justified this idea. Who knows, maybe the council are blatantly aware that this reduction will see an increase in speeding fines and are using this as a way to bolster their revenue. You know, its a possibility. In fact, I'm expecting one next week. Not because I ripped it through the streets, but because I was unlucky and / or was trying not to get hit by car drivers in fear of their licence.
Getting through Wandsworth, I find a huge line of stationary traffic, which went to prove that I've still got the very slow speed filtering skills in place as I was able to make good progress. Turns out the A3 was shut and with temperatures already high, I was feeling exceptionally hot and getting annoyed.
With no clear diversion, I ended up just following my own sense of direction and ended up riding through Richmond Park, past a legion of cyclists all out making the most of the weather. Finally past the closure I was looking forward to a good bit of riding down the A24, A272 etc and was planning on heading up to Salisbury to enjoy the route between there and home. So I get to Box Hill and its shut for roadworks! Already hot and getting hotter and annoyed by the A3 closure, the red mist started to descend.
The diversion was something in the region of 20-25 miles and took me towards Guildford. Lots of traffic, cyclists and other bikes out there and I just wanted to break free from them and get out onto clear road.
Running out of fuel and needing a drink, I stopped and took stock of where I was. I calmed down, headed back out and then found what I was looking for. I haven't ridden the A272 in lovely warm summer sunshine for a long time and it was great to reconnect with, what is for the sake of argument, the best biking road in the South East. Despite being hot and getting tired, the ride was brilliant and the bike felt fantastic underneath me, responding well to my requests.
Arriving at the A31/M3 junction and having been on the bike for the better part of 4-5hrs by this point, I decided on the direct route home. With traffic going the other way, leaving Dorset and heading home after a weekend by the coast, traffic was pretty good.
Finally I arrived home to a smiling Carolina waving from the kitchen window. She looked really happy and was a welcome sight following a long, hot and adventurous weekend.
Its now Monday morning and I have to head back out to Salisbury for work. Looks like I'll finally get to ride that great road after all, just 15 or so hours later than originally planned.