Big Smoke

Yesterday I went to London and during the rush hour walked from Knightsbridge to Westminister past Buckingham Palace. It was a nice evening and I think it’s sad to go to such a spectacular city and then miss most of the architecture by buzzing around everywhere underground. One thing struck me – there are a lot more normal looking people commuting on bikes in London than in Manchester. There’s an article in issue one of the Ride Journal by a dutch writer all about this.

What I mean by that is that here, most commuters seem to be pretty well geared up for the job in terms of cycling specific clothing whereas is London most people I say yesterday just seemed to have literally left their office, hopped on their bike and started to ride home. No lycra, no fluoro yellow safety jackets and in a lot of cases not even a lid. Thought that was an interesting comparison, most exciting thing I saw was a guy on a street-setup mountain bike win the sprint across a junction as the lights changed doing a fully crossed up wheelie. Very cool.

I’m also reminded that public transport when it wants to be can be utterly crap. My train from Bedford to London took about 40 minutes on the way in, but the same journey on the way back took double the time and was mostly spent with a guy who kept asking me if it was the slow train (bloody well feels like it) when he wasn’t drinking Stella, on the phone to his girlfriend, mum, mates or coke dealer – do you have powder? What about rock? Nah, powder is fine. I’m just going to get a taxi, be there in 20 minutes….

Why was the Victoria line closed so I missed the last fast train of the night? I like driving at night, but not when there’s road works every 5 miles with “Workforce in Road” and 40mph restrictions. That’s when the road was open and not diverted via the arse end of nowhere. Getting back to Manchester at 3.45am this morning wasn’t any fun at all.

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