London

prudential ride london-surrey 2014 buckingham palaceDespite the disappointment that twenty kilometres and the only two hills on the route had been taken out of the course by the organisers due to the wet weather inevitably felt by many, especially by those who don’t fully grasp the concept of not riding over a small hill just because it’s raining and who drove a five hundred mile round trip to take part in what turned out to be a diminished version of the billed event, I suppose it is kind of possible to understand the decision after seeing how many accidents there were yesterday, the first one witnessed by myself being a rider in front of me at traffic lights on the way to the start who fell from his stationery bike taking out the lass next to him in the process, and so it is perhaps important to accentuate the positive when it comes to Sunday’s RideLondon bikesportiveride, that curious and rather marvellous fusion of charity fundraisers and weekend warriors, of the newbies and the seasoned, of the eccentric and the takingitmuchtooseriously, the unique experiences that came from this pootle around what even non-Londoners would have to recognise as one of the most important towns in the South East of England.

After all, on what other weekend can you stay in an East London hotel where it is the guests not wearing bike gear who feel a bit conspicuous and self concious, where else do you get the chance to receive free Haribos (and Tangfastics at that, not the usual boring Supermix) from a real live person by buying a t-shirt from the Wiggle shop at the sign-on expo even if the logo does need altering now from RideLondon100 to RideLondon87, what other time can you up close and personal with the Rapha H-van as it doesn’t look like it would get this far north in a human lifetime under it’s own steam, on which other day can you ride the Hammersmith Flyover, the Blackwall Tunnel and scary looking six lane highways which if bikes aren’t banned from them completely you’d need to be much braver than I am to ride them, on what other occasion can you pedal a bike at quite an unfeasible number of kilometres per hour on the wrong side of the road and past every red light through the Monopoly Board place names of the centre of town and push your biggest gear past the Palace of Westmister and the National Gallery to recreate your fading memory of finishing the London Marathon on the Mall all those years ago then drift back to the City along a silent and traffic free Victoria Embankment, so lost in your thoughts and in the views of the river and in the sheer peacefulness of it all that you are overtaken by a young lad weaving precariously on a Boris bike?

The failure of Mayor Boris’s charm and persuasion to ensure the large Atlantic depression formerly known as Hurricane Bertha didn’t dump 50mm of precipitation on his jurisdiction yesterday may be the reason he is going back into parliament to get more powers. Not being from down that way I don’t know what his legacy to London in the non-cycling field will be, other than perhaps planning permission for lots of very tall glass-sided buildings, but I hope this celebration of all things two-wheeled and human-powered continues, if only so I can come back and ride it on a sunny day, finally go up Box Hill, and find out what I was missing.

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4 comments

  1. Denise

    Bit freakish having that storm but I’m glad it was able to go ahead in some capacity.

    I would have been really cross if someone had fallen on me and I wasn’t even doing anything!

    • northernbike

      hi Denise, yes, I’m glad too as word on the street (or on the internet anyway) is that they considered cancelling the whole thing. I really enjoyed the ride despite the change. Hope if you were out in the open sunday that you are dried out now!

  2. Human Cyclist

    I wouldn’t get too excited about riding Box Hill. It’s more of a lump than a hill. Leith is a bit more challenging. It was the right decision but I did feel for those such as yourself whohad travelled a long way. Much better in the dry, but then it was ever thus with cycling.

    • northernbike

      The DLR went right past my hotel window and some of the carriages still had their ‘allez cav’ livery which I suppose was a reminder that even for the best of us sometimes a ride doesn’t go as we hoped – at least I made it to the Mall – would have to think quite carefully about investing so much time and money again in an event so much at risk of being curtailed or cancelled at the last minute though – hope you had a good ride despite the weather.

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