City cycling clinic

  • How to ride the canals

    London cyclists often eulogise Regent’s Canal – which runs from Paddington to Limehouse – as the best way to cross town. On the surface, it’s a good idea: the thought of arriving at your destination refreshed by bucolic birdsong certainly appeals. Yet beyond the illusion the canal holds some hidden tribulations. Canals are all about travelling at a leisurely pace, so why do some cyclists ride so fast? These idiotic nuts make passing through the numerous arches – where the towpath narrows to a knife-edge – more like a white-knuckle ride. Heading west from Victoria Park, where the canal flanks the De Beauvoir estate in north London the territory becomes more feral, with silhouettes of burnt-out scooters – stolen, ridden and discarded – visible beneath the water’s surface. Still, it makes a change from round the back of King’s Cross where the canal ducks near Caledonian Road and street drinkers and drug dealers join the occasional fisherman by the water’s edge. Antisocial as these elements are, they can’t touch the biggest bête noir to cyclists, especially evident as you head towards Primrose Hill. It’s the self-righteous dog walker who refuses to believe, in spite of notices stationed along the canal stating it, that the path is for everyone – cyclists included. Ineed, the Regent’s Canal is one of the GLA’s designated cycle corridors. Perhaps by giving and receiving consideration in equal measure to other users, cyclists can all make it worthy of its name.

    Route rating

    Distance Six miles (Victoria Park to Primrose Hill).Average cycle time 50 minutes.Calories burned 350.Dog leads entangled Three.

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