Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The best cycling streets in London (Part 1)

My life is a complex, enjoyable jigsaw of part-time, freelance jobs and post-graduate study. One of the side effects of this is that I often work from home, and thus miss out on the joys of the daily commute. During these periods invites to social occasions on the other side of town are seized on with joy in order to get my daily Trusty time.
It also means that when I am working away from home I get to explore lots of different parts of the smoke. One particular job which I started back at today takes me on my very favourite route- Great Percy Street. If you don't know it, it's a short residential road lined with grand Georgian houses not far from King's Cross. What raises it far above the average is the fact that it is a) on a hill of the perfect incline for freewheeling and b) includes a wonderful, treelined roundabout half way down said hill, which, importantly, never has any traffic on it. This divine combination means that I can pull off Amwell Street (a rather nice long sloping hill itself), pick up some speed on the first stretch of Great Percy Street so that by the time I hit the roundabout the momentum takes me round in one big, long, fast glorious swoop. If the sun is out very often I can't help making racing car noises out loud, and I'm not even ashamed. That is how good this hill is, and in any case if you can't let out your inner child on the back of a bike bombing down a hill then when can you?

If you could bottle those endorphins this whole city would look more cheerful.


  1. I meant to say, I'd love to hear your own favourite streets. I would of course need to check them out myself in order to write a thorough review...

  2. I totally identify with the need to make sounds of joy while riding. This morning when whizzing across a section of cobbles, I opened my mouth and did the 'ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah' thing as I bumped across them, all the while surrounded by a throng of slightly more serious commuters :)

  3. I'm seriously considering purchasing some cheap wheels for this final year of uni, and probably of london living. Thanks for all your advice, tips, tricks, secrets etc. (and a fascinating read!). I unfortunately got my 5-year-lasted bike nicked outside Church 2 months into my first year at uni! But if I was still a'riding, my top 5 London streets to cycle with the limited knowledge of London I have would be...

    1) Serpentine Road
    2) Richmond Hill (up/in to Richmond Park)
    3) Chiswick High Road
    4) High Holborn - Newgate - Cheapside
    And finally,
    5) Brick Lane. Though doubt one'd get far before falling into the temptation of a curry house, vintage shop or rough trade east!

    Regarding your fb wallpost, not in el capitale until Sunday unfortunately so can't make tonight's gathering. Look forward to others though, and thanks for letting me know :)

  4. @millay- lovely, I bet they all wanted to do that really.
    @SirNeil- DO IT!It will save you money and bring you joy. And thanks for the list of streets- I will have to check them out. Serpentine Road is indeed amazing. Brick Lane though?I'm sure I'd end up hitting one of the men saying "curry madam? madam, curry?". Better to walk that one methinks!

  5. Those racing car sounds are not quite what I used to make cycling *UP* Great Percy Street/Percy Circus when I used to live in Myddelton Square.

    But totally understand your reaction - it's a great downward route.

    (although I've just remembered the time I had to chase my front light batteries down that hill before they hit the traffic in Kings Cross)

  6. Did you beat them? I can see the scene with comedy music over the top....

  7. Got them just in time - big size D ones from an ancient (and rubbish) everready light.