Excuses for not riding

I’m still here, I just haven’t been cycling of late. This is mainly because I went to Ireland for a few days and while I was away I got the biggest leg cramp you could possibly imagine and my right calf really hasn’t been the same since. I keep having minor spasms, so I thought it might be best to rest my legs for a bit: I haven’t ridden to work all week.

Of course there’s an upside to all this: when I don’t cycle to work it means I don’t have to get up quite as early, which is always a good excuse to stay in bed a little longer — as I’ve said on numerous occasions, I’m definitely not a morning person!

That said, I hope to get back on the bike next week. I’m looking forward to it. As much as I’ve enjoyed the self-imposed break, I’ve felt decidedly lacklustre — and grumpy — without my regular exercise. I need to feel the wind in my hair, the blood pumping through my veins and the adrenalin rush of negotiating the urban obstacle course that is London’s busy roads to feel truly alive!

A quick trundle to Hyde Park and back

A gorgeous summery morning here in London (predicted high of 23 degrees Celcius), so I decided to beat the crowds and took myself on a little trundle around Hyde Park at about 8.15am.

I’ve managed to work out a nifty 7-mile circuit which takes me from my door in West Kensington, around the park once and back again, with an obligatory diversion to my local French patiserrie for a not-very-healthy breakfast of pastries.

It’s not a particularly fast ride, but it’s an enjoyable one — and a great way to blow away the Saturday night cobwebs!

Total distance: 7.19 miles, including a diversion to my local French bakery.
Ride time: 37.42min
Average speed: 12.03 mph
Top speed: 19.5 mph

The flowers in Hyde Park


I cycle past this carpet of flowers — crocus, daffodils, jonquils and
bluebells — every morning and it always takes my breath away.   

I might not have had to ponce around in my high-viz jacket to take this photograph (as I had predicted in this post), but I did have to get up quite early on Easter Sunday to take it. There wasn’t a soul around, but even so I wasn’t brave enough to clamber over the wrought-iron fence that prevents pedestrians from tip-toeing through the blooms. This meant I couldn’t take any close-up shots, but you can’t have everything!

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And the bike park saga continues…

I didn’t cycle yesterday because I couldn’t face having to deal with the whole cart-your-bike-up-and-down-stairs at the new office again. But I regretted it, because I always feel slightly grumpy when I don’t get my daily cycling fix.

So this morning I took the plunge and hoped that things might be less fraught this time around. And guess what? It was.

The loading bay is not "under construction" as I had originally been told, but is simply being used by lots of construction workers (the building is still being fitted out). This means if you want to use the loading bay lift you need to be patient.

I must say this morning’s five-minute wait for the lift was worth it. It was so much nicer to take my bike down into the basement cycle park via a slow-moving metal box rather than struggling down a set of stairs and about four different fire exit doors and then a series of unmarked warren-like corridors.

However, taking my bike back up to street level this evening was slightly less successful. Despite waiting and waiting and waiting for the lift to collect me from the basement, it trundled down ever so slowly from floor 6 to the ground floor, then it went back up! I was livid. I’d already wasted 10 minutes (yes, 10 minutes) waiting for the damn thing, so I decided to haul my bike up the stairs instead! Grrr.

One of the security guards was very sympathetic when I explained the situation. He then suggested that tomorrow it might be easier for me to use the car park in the third floor basement as motorists have their own separate lift. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but this is a prime case of cyclists being treated like second-class citizens in favour of car drivers.

I can feel a ranting e-mail to management coming on tomorrow… you wouldn’t see car drivers being told they couldn’t park their cars in their designated space because the lift was too busy, so why is it okay for cyclists to put up with such rubbish conditions?

A new routine

Today, the company I work for moved into new offices. This meant I had to cycle an extra kilometre. No big deal there.

The big deal came when it was time to park my bike. We had been told that cyclists would be greeted at the loading bay and then shown our new whizz-bang underground cycle park, which has been fitted out with lockers and a shower room.

My first problem was locating the loading bay. Little did I know the loading bay is still under construction. I cycled round and round looking for it.

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I took this photograph by accident while going on a fairly relaxed seven-mile cycle around Hyde Park and environs this morning (which I’ll write more about later). Even if I’d posed this shot, I’m sure it would not have turned out as well as this!

A message from Jon Snow: improving integration between cycling and rail travel


This just popped into my e-mail in-box from the CTC president, Jon Snow [click to enlarge]. It urges cyclists to petition the Government about improving the integration between cycling and rail travel, something I wholly endorse. The easier we make it for people to cycle the better, right?

You can find out more here.

Footpaths are for pedestrians, right?

One thing I will not do is cycle on footpaths. This is mainly because when I was a 19-year-old pedestrian I was knocked over by a cyclist on a footpath, who did not stop but left me on the ground with bleeding wounds on my hands and knees, and I’ve been haunted by that memory ever since.

I also refuse to cycle on footpaths, because it’s against the law.

So this morning as I trundled along one of the back streets behind South Bank I was surprised when a pedestrian actually advised me to cycle on the footpath. This was because I was stuck behind a tailback of traffic, with no room to move. If I wanted to move the only solution was to clamber onto the footpath, which, as I’ve just stated, I will not do.

I was standing there quite patiently when a gentleman on the other side of 50 walked by, looked me up and down, then said, "Why don’t you cycle on the footpath?"

"No thanks," I said.

"Be quicker."

"Be against the law," I replied.

"Your loss," he quipped, before walking on.

My loss? About 30 seconds of my time. The traffic cleared and I was on my way. And I didn’t have to break the law to do it. But why a pedestrian thought it was a good idea to advise me to cycle on his territory still has me flummoxed!

A quick question

Are you allowed to kick in the wing mirrors of cars illegally parked in cycle lanes or double parked on main roads during rush hour?*

* Just in case you were wondering, I haven’t done this, but I was sorely tempted about seven times on tonight’s commute home. Grrr.