Monday, 18 May 2009

The Golden Route

Passion born out of necessity

After commuting on the tube (District and Central lines) from June 2007 to March 2008, I decided that I would cycle to work from Hammersmith to St Pauls, City of London. I had commuted to work and back in Dublin for a few months in the preceding years but decided that since I had "junk in the trunk", I could burn off a few inches, get my fitness up and avoid the unfriendly, hot, crammed, claustrophobic tube by cycling to work.

My work offered me a Ride to Work scheme, allowing me to buy a super bicycle and all the kit at a local dealer and pay it back with a considerable tax savings over a year. What a bargain!

Once I had the bicycle, I needed to find a route that wouldn't scare the Bejaysus out of me. I wanted lots of greenery and parks, safe cycle paths and some lovely views. I tried several routes that included Oxford St (NEVER do this - it's so slow!) and I eventually found everything I wanted in what we call The Golden Route - from West London to the City. (You can get maps for cycling in London here).

Now that I had a route, I needed a cycle partner so we got my husband tooled up for the job and he cycles with me most mornings. It's an amazing way to start the day.

This is our Golden Route:

1) Brook Green then High Street Kensington
- From the quiet of Brook Green, find your way onto Hammersmith Boulevard and up onto High Street Kensington. It's a bit of a jiggle, a squeeze and a maze through the traffic - the worst part of the journey.

2) Kensington Park
- What more can I say? It is beautiful and on mornings below 0 degrees C, the frost is thick and unbroken by footprints on the grass

3) Hyde Park
- A long cycle highway runs through the bottom of this park. Stay to the left to let those in a hurry pass you by as you enjoy the morning air and the view of fairs/events taking place in the park.

4) Wellington Arch
- Always magnificent - day or night.

5) Constitution Hill
- A cycle path runs alongside the road, enabling you to get up quite a speed on the way past Green Park.

6) Buckingham Palace
- At the bottom of Constitution Hill, Buckingham palace looms up to your right. It is so large and so stately...

7) The Mall
- A cycle path runs alongside the road, enabling you to cycle under Plein trees on your way to Trafalgar Square

8) Trafalgar Square
- A bit hairy for the uninitiated but have faith! The traffic light system works really well so get into lane, signal your intentions very early on and go slowly.

9) Northumberland Road
- A quick zip down to the Thames. Watch out for suicidal pedestrians coming out of the train station to your left - use your bell liberally!

10) Victoria Embankment
- This is a very busy but wide road that snakes along the Thames and offers views of the London Eye, Westminster, The Gherkin, The Tate Modern etc. It is a treat to have this as part of my daily commute!

11) Queen Victoria St
- This is a fairly quiet road with an awesome breakfast take-away place on your left. You can smell the peppery sausages cooking on your way past - mmmmmmm.....

12) Godliman St
- Permanently blocked off by builders who are building a new hotel. God knows why I don't get another route in as this entails me getting off my bike and swearing - every morning.

13) Cannon, New Change, Cheapside, Edward and Angel Streets
- This is a quick whizz (it doesn't sound like it, I know!) circumnavigating St Paul's Cathedral and tube station to St Martin's Le Grand St - I work nearby.

I really recommend the route and cycling to work. Give it a try!

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