Got back on the bike today, the first time since August 30. It seemed like such a long time between bicycle commutes that I confess I got a touch of the nerves before getting on the saddle.
I used to be plagued by nerves. Every morning I’d be ready to walk out the door with my helmet on my head, gloves on my hands and fluoro jacket on my back and then I’d have to make an emergency dash to the toilet to do a ‘nervous poo’.
This used to happen every day for months. And then somewhere along the line I just stopped working myself into a nervous lather every time I realised I was about to risk my life by riding in London traffic. I don’t know when the nerves disappeared; I guess I just got used to the commute and it no longer became an issue.
But this morning I could feel that little worry worm in my head and I came very, very close to taking notice of it. Any excuse to stay in bed for an extra half-hour, right?
Once I was on the bike it was fine. A truly beautiful morning with the promise of an Indian summer’s day in the air had me pedalling up Ken High Street and through Hyde Park with a big smile on my face. Mind you, because I’m under doctor’s orders not to wear my contact lenses for a few weeks I was cursing the fact I don’t own any prescription sunglasses: I had to practically squint all the way to work!
There were loads of fellow commuters on the road, so many that at the bike-only traffic island at Hyde Park Corner we couldn’t all fit on it. It was a case of very serious bike congestion. And typically when the lights turned green there was a mass free-for-all as a similar number of cyclists coming towards us met us in the middle of the road and no-one seemed to know where to go. Why people can’t just stick to the left is beyond me.
Fortunately, I have good brakes, because I came within millimetres of running into the back of someone, who stopped suddenly to avoid a head-on collision. I squeezed my brake levers so quickly and so hard my back wheel went flying up into the air behind me. I’m sure this spectacular sight must have given all those motorists sitting at the traffic lights quite a laugh!
Aside from that, it was an incident-free cycle, if somewhat slower than normal. And the return journey, in glorious late summer sunshine, was pleasant and quite fast. I was home just 37 minutes after having set off — and that includes the time spent stopping at red lights!