Sun 7 June 2015
Well where do I start. What a truly wonderful day. I am sure that someone from Penge CC will do a more informed report in due course but I just felt I needed to set something on the page before the day was over.
The Tour de Penge had been designated the opening event of the Penge Festival. Arriving at Penge Recreation Ground shortly after 9 am there was a flurry of urgent activity in progress as preparations for the start were made.
The Dr Bike mechanic from the Borough Cycling team was soon doing a roaring trade as people presented their faithful steeds for a pre-ride check. Derek darted hither and thither with his bicycle pump inflating tyres that needed a bit of a top up (and some that needed a bit more than that, I have a suspicion that one or two of the bicycles on the ride today had not seen the light of day since the corresponding event last year!) Anyway the important thing is that they were here at the start line and ready for some fun.
In the calling notice I had suggested that everyone should bring a smile and they certainly did that. There were happy smiling cheerful faces everywhere – children and adults all. It would be hard to find a day that gave more favourable weather conditions for the ride. Bright wall to wall sunshine, a gentle cooling breeze.
At 9.45 am Ride Controller, Spencer gathered the Ride Guides for a final briefing. Most of us had done the route check last week but the Police who were also in attendance to assist with ride management had advised a slight route alteration because of road works in Kent House Road. So this needed some explaining to the guides.
Briefing over we lined the ride up in the road and after a countdown Andy led out towards Maple Road. The presence of the Police ensured the ride along the High street was very smooth this year. We are very grateful to officers Julie Pope and Clare Tellam who not only helped with this part of the ride but in fact stayed for the whole day ensuring our safety, likewise our thanks to the Borough Commander for authorising their attendance, we are sure they had many other important duties to attend to!
Information from Rider Organiser Suzie is that there were 270 registrations. So taking account of some who didn’t bother to register and others who joined the ride once it was under way it is safe to assume we had 300 riders which is pretty much what I had guestimated.
Once in the park the riders were divided into smaller groups, assigned to a ride guide and launched along the wonderful Waterlink Way in a long leisurely chain of happiness. It was immediately clear that many of the riders were old hands at the ride. They settled into their own steady rhythm and gave encouragement and directions to those riding for the first time.
On arrival at Greenwich we made our way into the Grounds of the Old Naval College where we relaxed for an hour eating our picnics and chilling out in the glorious mid-day sunshine. Here children on the ride, and there were many, ran around playing with boundless energy whilst shattered parents sprawled on the grass gathering themselves for the ride back.
We were in no hurry to commence the return. But eventually all good things must end so we struggled back onto our bikes and set off back. Here the youngsters excelled themselves. Some of them, as young as just 5 years old, were uncomplaining and rode their bikes beautifully. They were carefully looking out for each other giving each other encouragement. At Ladywell some riders stopped for a drink or an ice-cream others just kept on pedalling.
The last of the riders reached Cator Park at about 3 pm and were greeted by some of the Penge Festival organisers. Riders were presented with wristbands and there were cup-cakes available to buy courtesy of the Penge All-Stars dancers who were selling the cakes to raise money towards a planned trip to America to take part in a dancing competition. Later the All-Stars treated us to a fabulous display of their dancing talent – good luck in the competition All-Stars!
And so the day ended and we departed for our homes with some lovely memories and a yearning to do it all again next year.