A cap­i­tal idea

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - by Justin Hayzelden

Rid­ing in Lon­don at night is en­light­en­ing

City rid­ing is gen­er­ally thought of as a means to an end rather than a plea­sure, where de­fen­sive rid­ing is the key to sur­vival and fil­ter­ing is a must if you’re look­ing to make any progress at all. Rush hour is an out­dated term – traf­fic is a day-long drudge and there’s not much fun in ne­go­ti­at­ing that. By night, how­ever, things are a lit­tle dif­fer­ent…

Start at The Ace Café; wait for the daily grind to sub­side then slip out on to the North Cir­cu­lar Road (A406) east­bound. Apart from the a cou­ple of ma­jor junc­tions it’s sur­pris­ingly free-flow­ing thanks to the many un­der­passes and over­passes. Know­ing how busy this route is dur­ing the day gives a unique feel­ing of free­dom that only in­ten­si­fies as the day­light fades.

Fol­low signs for the City Air­port – ur­ban ad­ven­ture rid­ing is as much about nav­i­ga­tion as any­thing else and keep­ing an eye out for signs also serves to sharpen ob­ser­va­tion. Once you have sight of the run­way to your left switch to signage for the City, trac­ing the course of the DLR to an amaz­ing view across the Dock­lands from Bow Creek. The road then de­scends amongst the glass and chrome of Ca­nary Wharf be­fore dis­ap­pear­ing un­der­ground to the per­ma­nent il­lu­mi­na­tions of the Lime­house Link.

You’ll resur­face to The High­way, which leads di­rectly to the Tower and Tower Bridge. Turn left to cross this most iconic of land­marks; from sun­set the city is fully lit, giv­ing such sights a sur­real, cin­e­matic qual­ity – ex­plor­ing a city at night is just like be­ing in a movie.

The first avail­able right will take you back to the river and Lon­don Bridge – once across, keep an eye out for di­rec­tions to West­min­ster/par­lia­ment Square and you’ll soon be cruis­ing along the Vic­to­ria Em­bank­ment with the Thames to your left. At the El­iz­a­beth Tower (Big Ben) hang a right to cover the four sides of Par­lia­ment Square be­fore peel­ing off along White­hall and past the Ceno­taph to Trafal­gar Square. In view of Nel­son, take the first left, pass through Ad­mi­ralty Arch and rock up The Mall to the Palace.

Hyde Park Cor­ner can be a fran­tic night­mare dur­ing the day, but at night there’s the time and space to ac­tu­ally en­joy it – fol­low signs for Wem­b­ley/ A40 and Park Lane will sweep you through May­fair to Mar­ble Arch, where it’s not un­com­mon to find your­self rid­ing along­side a su­per­car or three. Hav­ing en­tered the city from the east, you’ll de­part to the west, soar­ing above the rooftops along the un­lit, el­e­vated West­way. Stick with the A40 to Hanger Lane, then for the last stretch pick up the A406 once more, rolling back to the Ace just in time for last or­ders.

‘The unique sense of free­dom only in­ten­si­fies as the day­light fades’

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