Tuesday 22 September 2009

Monday 21 September 2009

No specific destination

I did the London Skyride yesterday. Days off are rare at the moment; even rarer are those that allow me to simply ride my ancient bicycle with no specific destination in mind.

After lunch near Marble Arch with a friend I freewheeled it along to speaker's corner to hear some semi-sane ravings for old time sake. I used to be addicted to Speaker's Corner. Whilst half listening to a man warn of The Robots impending takeover I noticed hundreds of people wearing yellow jerseys with the words "Skyride" emblazoned across them. I cycled down towards Hyde Park Corner where they appeared to be congregating.

As it turned out, our mayor Boris Johnson had closed down a huge part of central London to enable 50,000 cyclists to take to the streets without a car in sight. The route ran from Buckingham Palace, along the Victoria Embankment to St Pauls, to the Tower of London and back again. I merely planned to observe this post-apocalyptic/eco-warrior's wet dream car-less London; but instead, I became literally swept along into the whole event and completed the ride with a huge smile on my face. What a priviledge it was to pedal down Constitution Hill without a car in sight. London and it's September summer was on beautiful form. Dressed in all it's finery, with no Range Rovers to negotiate, the city revealed itself as a beautiful old friend. I was a tourist again in my own city.

It was 15km in total and although teams of 7 year olds on BMXs seemed to race by every 30 seconds it was a pretty graceful experience. With speakers installed in Blackfriars Tunnel, Kasabian's "Fire" reverberated around the grimy old tube like psych-rock from the bowels of the earth. It was a great moment - unique and surreal - and a great reminder of everything this city can be.