The skies were a gloomy grey and the rain was jutting into us from a sideways angle. “We have to cycle in this?”, I thought. But after reassurance from our friendly guide, and after donning a poncho and hopping aboard one of the most comfortable bikes I’ve ever been on, I didn’t have anything to worry about. Soon the showers stopped and the sun shone, illuminating parts of London I had never seen before as we rode gently through the city on a bike tour to discover the secrets of the capital.
The Secret London Bike Tour is a 3.5-hour ride to explore some of the Big Smoke’s best-kept secrets. As a lifelong Londoner, I thought I knew a thing or two about the city that I grew up in, but I soon discovered parts of London that I had no idea existed. Did no one else know about these hidden gems, or was everyone keeping them a secret?
We began the tour by meeting Patrick, our enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, to collect our bikes. I cycle a fair bit in London, but wouldn’t call myself a cyclist by any means. However, like trying someone else’s recipe for a tried and trusty classic dish, I felt a bit dubious about getting on a bike that wasn’t mine when I’ve been cycling on the same one for five years. I needn’t have worried though – these bikes really are the most comfortable I’ve ridden on, and straight away I felt safe and excited to explore.
Cycling mostly on designated lanes and through quiet paths, at a leisurely speed that would make any level of cyclist comfortable, we journeyed past the big sights of The Tower of London and The Globe Theatre, amongst others, stopping for some local insights from Patrick before heading off the beaten track, delving past quaint waterways that didn’t even look like they belonged in the country, let alone the capital.
As we parked our bikes to hear more fascinating stories from Patrick, I slowly looked at my surroundings. We were so close to one of London’s most famous landmarks – I could even see part of it in the corner, the majority obscured by another building – yet where we had stopped was so hidden and peaceful. It felt like only we knew about this little gem as we had it completely to ourselves, and it simply astonished me. How did I not know that this pocket of delight in central London existed?
The tour itself found us cycling through and stopping off at some of the more famous sights of the capital along the way, as well as the hidden gems, but always with informed, animated and passionate commentary from Patrick. He delved into details of London that were made even more interesting when you were looking at something you had never noticed before, or had seen a million times but never thought twice about. Do you know where the phrase ‘daylight robbery’ comes from? We found out on the Secret London Bike Tour, much to our fascination!
It’s hard to write about a secret tour without giving away any of its secrets. But the only way to truly find out is to discover them for yourself. London is filled with so much history and culture, and to delve into some of its mysteries on two wheels with a guide who knows more than his fair share of hidden tales and surprises, was an afternoon that I certainly won’t forget in a hurry.