Restricted Bridges, Escorts, and SuperHighways.

The QE2 Bridge

As a fun training session I decided to cycle to the Queen Elizabeth II bridge in Essex – the second largest cable stayed bridge in the UK and the 41st largest cable-stayed bridge in the world. It forms the southbound element of the Dartford Crossing.

Me at the start of the bridge

I was cycling with fellow Ride2Raise buddy George and we both tested out our new Soreen branded training shirts (good job with the rear pockets Soreen!).

A gurning George!

After cycling through Greenwich, East London and Thamesmead we eventually arrived at the bridge. The approach roads were not the nicest and were largely dual carriage A-roads littered with glass, making George very nervous as he had suffered more than a few recent punctures. The bridge looked a lot more daunting in real life and we questioned whether we would able to cross it.

We looked around where we could cross the bridge and saw that vehicles had to pay a toll to approach it. We looked at each other with the ludicrous idea that we would have to approach the toll booths on our cycles. Fortunately, we found a sign showing an alternative route for cycles where we had to report to a security booth. We were told that we were unable to cross the bridge on cycles and that we would have to have an escort over the bridge. As that was all the information that the security guard gave us we then pondered what type of escort this would be. We dreamt for a moment of 6 police bikes surrounding us as they shepherded us over the bridge, like they do with the queen or prime minister.

The reality, however, was a little more down to earth as a 4×4 stopped next to us. We thought  the driver would step out to greet us and give us instructions what to do with our bikes, but he just stayed in the vehicle, sat behind the wheel. On the back of the 4×4 was a cycle rack and a couple of ropes so we realised that we should attach the bikes here. George jumped in quickly and put his bike on first using 2 of the 3 available ropes! This meant that I was left to attach my bike to the outside of the rack with one nervous looking rope (cheers George). The car then took us through a tunnel beneath the River Thames and to the Essex side of the river. I looked back nervously to check my bike had not fallen off the back of the car. Luckily it survived to the other side where we were dropped at another security booth next to the M25.

We took a few customary photos before returning back to London. On our return we drove along one of the new Cycle Highways that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, had commissioned. The highways simply involved the existing green cycle lanes being spray painted a bright blue colour. The spray painters were still painting as we cycled past them and so in a flash our blue cycle lane had returned to a faded green colour as we sped past the poor workers commissioned to do this work (4/5 men walking for miles with a hose spraying blue paint on tarmac on a Sunday morning). I didn’t envy them.

Mike.

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