CRO Ghost Ride Report

November 20th saw the Croydon Cyclists first theatrical bicycle tour.  A version of the article below was first published on the website of the Croydon Citizen on November 23rd 2016.

Croydon is the most haunted borough in London. Fact.

And with this spurious piece of data we we’re off. Where exactly in Croydon do these phantoms live? Who are these poor lost souls, doomed to wander our streets in eternal sorrow? How can we share these fantastical stories with our fellow townspeople in a fun, yet terrifying, way?

Or rather, I was off, dragging the rest of the Croydon Cyclists behind me. But what a delicious opportunity to get people out on their bikes! And when some of your best friends are professional storytellers, how could it not be anything other than a fantastical adventure!

Or so I hope. We have yet to perform our inaugural CR Ghost Tour, but I’d like to think things are shaping up nicely. We’ve found some of our borough’s most haunted parks, started researching our tales, got the route together and perhaps most importantly, found a suitable venue to warm-up again in at the end of the ride (the gorgeous Coffee Craft in Stanley Halls).

However, some questions do remain. Will we be able to summon the Lloyd Park ghoul through collective will alone? And will our entertaining interpretations of various Croydon tales enrage or appease the local history hounds?

I’d like to think that anyone who comes along will come with tongue firmly in cheek, disbelief suspended and sense of humour engaged. And that we’ll all have a grand old time.

However, we do want to make clear that we don’t want this to be a one-off. Our aim as Croydon Cyclists is to get bums on saddles and we really do very much hope that this ride will appeal to less confident cyclists and families, as we want to do all we can to make cycling fun in Croydon, no matter your skill level.

I was delighted that over 40 cyclists joined us for our Freecycle feeder ride in July and loved talking to a couple of cyclists who told me who they were representing the Home Office. They said they’d signed up for the ride the day registration opened and would do the same again for Freecycle 2017 they said. But they also told me they didn’t ride normally as they didn’t feel it was safe enough.

So our route is designed to find our quieter streets and off-road paths, to share some of the ways we can make our bike journeys calmer and safer.

We’re taking our inspiration from groups such as the Lambeth Cyclists, whose collaborations with Clapham’s Omnibus Theatre include June’s Midsummer Cycle Ride and a Festive Light Ride, and Penge CC whose annual Tour de Penge goes from strength to strength. We hope to have a few more themed rides lined up ready for the new year, perhaps building on the foundations of the National Trust’s Edge City Croydon architecture tour (pun entirely intended), with growing numbers of local riders discovering Croydon by bike.

So please do join us on Sunday 20th for our CR Ghost Ride. We will do all we can to delight and enthral with our spooky tales. Actors from Theatre Utopia will complete the illusion with Hackney storytelling legend Miranda Roszkowski debuting an original piece of writing en homage to Croydon’s ghostly heritage.

And who knows, perhaps when we’re standing in Addiscombe Railway Park with darkness fading, we may even glimpse an eerie figure wandering ahead as a shrill whistle rips through the air…..