A good, fast ride

Start the week as you mean to go on.

I trundled into work this morning on my bike, the first time in a week, and boy, did it feel good. The air was crisp, but not overly cold, and my legs felt strong. Everything seemed to come together traffic-wise as well: I caught all the green lights, I didn’t get stuck behind any buses, and there were fewer cycles to contend with.

The return route was equally satisfying, and I shaved some 8 minutes off my total journey time compared to my tentative return at the start of the month.

The only thing that bugged me was the curb huggers — the cyclists that think it’s safer to ride within about five inches of the gutter when, in fact, they’d be much better off taking the lane and making their  presence known. Wherever I could I overtook them and at one point, while I flew down Kensington High Street, I think I encouraged a couple of fellow cyclists to follow my lead. No sooner had I gone past them than I turned around to find they were now tailing me and had positioned themselves in the middle of the lane, just as I had. I like it when that happens.

Total distance:
12.42 miles | Ride time: 1hr, 13min and 09sec | Average speed: 10.73mph | Top speed: 19.5mph

Man falls in love with bike — literally!

I know a lot of cyclists lust after bikes, but this story — from tonight’s thelondonpaper — about a Scotsman, is simply ridiculous:

A man caught trying to have sex with his bicycle was given three years’ probation and placed on the Sex Offenders Register. Robert Stewart, 51, was convicted of sexually aggravated breach of the peace after cleaners at his hostel in Ayr found him half naked and simulating sex with the bike. Sheriff Colin Miller told him: "I thought I had come across every perversion known to mankind but… I have never heard of a ‘cycle-sexualist’." Stewart had blamed a misunderstanding caused by drink.

Which begs the question, how many pints would you need to have consumed before thinking it might be a good idea to shag your bike?

It’s bad enough cycling through London on two wheels, imagine doing it on one!

Tonight I saw a man commuting on a huge giant UNICYCLE!

It was dark and I got the fright of my life when I spied him coming around Spur Road, near Birdcage Walk. The route here is not very well lit and it was hard to make out this "thing" coming towards me, especially as the unicyclist was sitting up very tall, way above the traffic, so he didn’t look like a normal cyclist. He was going at a relatively good speed, but his movements were kind of jerky, which really confused my brain. It was only when he was literally a metre or so in front of me that I realised what he was riding. How funny he looked!

As it turns out, I followed him all the way to Hyde Park Corner, although he took the road along Constitution Hill while I opted for the cycle path. He had no brakes, so every time he had to stop at traffic lights he had to find something to hang onto (usually the traffic lights themselves). And while he had a headlight strapped to his forehead, he had no reflectors or rear light which meant he was pretty hard to see from behind. Perfectly illegal, I’m sure.

He was a bit of a conversation point though. You could see all the cyclists eyeing him up and shaking their heads in disbelief whenever they saw him. One chap started a conversation with him at the lights, only bits of which I could hear, because there was a woman behind me exclaiming to her friend "How does he stop? He doesn’t have any brakes!"

I have a feeling he muttered something about "being in the circus"… but I could be wrong.

Total distance: 12.68 miles | Ride time: 1hr, 18min and 57sec | Average speed: 10.19mph | Top speed: 19.7mph

Top Gear: Race Across London

The last thing you’d expect a hardcore motoring show to promote is cycling, but that’s what Top Gear did — quite unintentionally — in last night’s episode screened on BBC2.

In a little stunt called "Race Across London" the three presenters and the show’s infamous test driver "Stig" raced each other across the capital during peak hour traffic using four different forms of transport — a speed boat (along the Thames), a bicycle, a car and the bus/tube/rail network — to see who would get to London City Airport first. Guess who won?

Yes. The cyclist!!

Here’s a preview, on You Tube, which will give you some idea of how the race worked.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really convey how aggressive Richard Hammond has to be to tackle London traffic. I’ve never heard so much swearing in my life!

Something about spatial awareness

On this morning’s route there were loads of policemen handing out leaflets to cyclists around the Hyde Park Corner area. I took one and shoved it in my pocket to read later.

Unfortunately, the leaflet isn’t very clear and it could do with some proper sub-editing. (I’m an editor, so I’m picky about these things *grin*) But it appears to be aimed at raising the spatial awareness of cyclists. This is what it says:


Cyclists and Pedestrians V Large Goods Vehicles

Working in partnership with Birds Groupage Services Limited and Cemex UK, we invite you inside, both an articulated and rigid lorry cab to give you the heads up on the driver’s view.

One day this may just save your life.

Horse Guards Parade, London SW1.
Monday 12 – Thursday 15 November, 08.30 to 18.30

Interesting… I think?

Just for the record, here’s the numbers for today’s ride.

Total distance: 12.95 miles | Ride time: 1hr, 21min and 43sec | Average speed: 10.07mph | Top speed: 19mph

Just like starting over…

After a couple of months of very little, if any, cycling I thought it was about time I got serious about this commuter caper and started riding on a more regular basis once again. I’ve noticed a distinct negative impact on my health and wellbeing recently — lethargy, constant tiredness and a drop in motivation — which I believe is due to lack of exercise. So this morning, despite the chilly air and the early hour, I managed to extract my bike from storage and take to the roads again.

Within 100metres I remembered why it is I love cycling so much: the fresh air, the blood pumping through the veins, the knowledge that I’m moving under my own steam.

Mind you, another 100metres down the line and I was feeling out of breath! I do jest. I am out of condition but I’m not that bad.

Anyway, getting back on the road was a great feeling. London was at its autumnal best: all the trees in Kensington Palace Garden and Hyde Park were adorned in orange, gold and bronze leaves. The sunlight was streaming through them and everything just seemed to be all aglow. I took my time cycling down Rotten Row admiring the view.

Actually, I pretty much took my time the whole route, if only because my fitness levels have dropped a little, plus there were so many changes since my last commute — mainly in road conditions and roadworks — that I couldn’t really rush too much. I just wanted to make sure I got to the office in one piece, which, I’m happy to report, I did.

And then I had to do it all over again on my way home. But that’s another story…

Total distance: 12.89 miles | Ride time: 1hr, 21min and 21sec | Average speed: 10.04mph | Top speed: 17.2mph