For the first time since going back to work in late June I managed to commute by bicycle five days in a row. My Monday journey set me up for a good week, as did the fine, unusually summery, weather that lasted right through the next four days. And come Friday, despite the aching legs, I felt like I'd achieved something, a personal milestone of sorts.
At 5.45pm on Friday, I was also rather chuffed to collect my bicycle from where I'd locked it up for the day to find I'd scored a free BRIGHT PINK seat cover — as did the dozens of other bikes parked up nearby. Okay, so it was a marketing ploy, but a rather clever and inspired one, given it was advertising secure bike parking facilities!
But I was less chuffed when I was stoned by a 10-year-old kid as I cycled past Bernie Spain Gardens about 10 minutes later! The missile hit me in my ribs and I was so surprised by it — I yelled "ouch" in what must have sounded like a hugely comical voice — that I didn't really process what had happened until I was about half a mile down the road. Then I started to join the dots… the group of kids hanging out by the gardens… the giggling and carrying on…and me flying past for target practise. The thing is, I don't know if I was deliberately targeted or whether they were fooling around and throwing things at each other and I just got in the way. I'm only grateful that they didn't aim it at my eye.
Some other things that happened during the week:
★ I saw a guy riding like the clappers down Constitution Hill on possibly the world's rustiest bike. His back wheel was either seriously buckled or very loose, because it had a very dangerous wobble. I don't know how he didn't know something was wrong. I planned to tell him when I caught him at the next set of traffic lights, but when he flew through the red light, scattering pedestrians in his wake, I decided that if his wheel fell off then he probably deserved it.
★ I came within inches of hitting a pedestrian near the Royal Albert Hall. She was standing on the kerb and about to walk out into my path. But then she spotted me coming and stopped. We made eye contact and I smiled to thank her. But just as I was level with her she decided to step out anyway. I couldn't believe it. I had to swerve so drastically that I almost fell off. I honestly don't know what she was playing at, but you should have heard the curses coming out of my mouth! No, I wasn't very happy.
★ By contrast, another pedestrian smiled and thanked me … when I stopped at a red light. I smiled back. But it did make me wander why he was so appreciative. Maybe he's just never seen a cyclist stop at a red light before?
★ I spotted one cyclist, a guy in his late 20s, on Friday evening cycling very tentatively near the curb. At the traffic lights he had a nervous disposition. He just generally looked uncomfortable with the whole cycling in traffic thing. I wondered if it was his first time out. I wanted to tell him that he'll only kick the nerves by practise. You never lose the adrenalin rush, but the nervousness goes — eventually.
★ Two mornings in a row I saw the King's Troop all dressed up in their uniforms and spiffy gold hats trotting their black horses around the riding arena near the South Carriage.
★ One morning I saw the guards at Wellington Barracks, on Bird Cage Walk, practising their drills. They were wearing green uniforms and bearskin hats. And the tourists were gawking at them through the fence, cameras at the ready. I do love cycling in London!
Total distance: 49.07miles (78.95km) | Ride time: 4hr, 12min and 18sec | Average speed: 11.6mph | Top speed: 22.3mph