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  • 22/03/2022 - In praise of the Fixie Loop

    As we head into British Summer Time, take advantage of the midweek club rides, including this one.

    Somehow I’ve ridden the Fixie Loop 99 times. As I close in on a century of rides on this local route, I’m reflecting on just what it is that keeps drawing me back to it. I’ve ridden it fast (chasing KOMs), slow (as a recovery ride), as a kind of intro ride for friends or just a shorter ride on days when a long stint just isn’t possible. Oh, yeah, and sometimes I even ride it on a fixed-gear bike.

    I learned the loop back in 2012 from Stan Cmakal at London Phoenix. He called it his “fixie loop," although he was riding a lovely green Wilier geared bike that day and we were a 3up. The route stuck with me and when we were looking to start our first midweek club rides at ICC, I put this forward for Thursdays. Later we added the North London Hills and Radlett Revolution for Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

    Does the Fixie Loop lend itself to fixed-gear riding? Pretty much, although for the 25 miles from my front door, it’s about 1,250ft of elevation gain. Translate to a century ride and 5,000ft of climbing doesn’t sound so fixie friendly. But there are no 10% sections, almost all the rises feel pretty gradual, so you should not end up feeling too over-geared on a fixed-gear.

    Snaking its way out of the capital, but never straying too far, it still manages to feel quite rural. It achieves this by darting around mainly back lanes and between Totteridge, Potters Bar and as far north as Welham Green. There are several long stretches without traffic lights, junctions or give way, so you can work in some good length intervals, if you like.

    What’s on the route? Llamas! If you’re lucky you can catch a glimpse of these creatures at Royal Veterinary College and Equine Practice and Referral Hospital on Hawkshead Road. It’s the largest and longest-established vet school in the English-speaking world and is a college of the University of London. (You know I had to look that up, right?).

    Just before the RVC, there is what appears to be a castle remnant. Could this Grade II listed building be some form of llama defence scheme? It turns out Folly Arch (also on Hawkshead Road at the junction with Swanley Bar Lane) was actually part of a grand garden design from the 1700s.

    Getting back to cycling, I naturally created a Strava segment for this route. Well, it was possibly the only way for me to get a KOM. But I did. This was after the club had been running rides on it for a while, so I did have some competition. Fresh from a Mallorca training camp, I rode it solo and attacked all the way through, I got lucky with the lights in Potters Bar and gained the KOM with a respectable 1:10:08. There followed much grief for me when co-club founder +RichardM and +michool nabbed it off me. Ironically, it was on a tandem. It felt like mechanical doping, but hats off to them anyway. I think Dorian took it next riding in a group. Charlie Salt currently holds the KOM (57:29) and Marine Guerin the QOM (1:05:55).

    Here's the link to the club thread on the Thursday Fixie Loop rides. However you choose to ride it, I hope you enjoy this route.


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