Returning to Civilisation After 100 Miles of Bliss
More than once did cars become the symbol of absolute evil, more than once did I curse ever previous, and the current, London governments for woefully underinvesting in cycling and infrastructure, and when they had, letting demented fucktits design it. And thinking primarily about cars, and not public transport and bikes. And, again, did I curse the privatisation of all the services with things under the road, as every road seems to be ripped up again and again and again, so what we’re left is something that resembles less of a road and more of a tarmac quilt.
Well, this brutal reminder of what London is like was after the 2nd 100 mile ride. We did another 100 (my second; Culture’s … 9th?), even if it was much slower than either of us care to acknowledge (it wasn’t that bad, it was the wind that was that bad). I felt I faired better than my first 100 – I put that down to knowing I could do a 100, as well as having pit stops to refuel in (even if a ‘stop in … miles’ sign would’ve been welcome). However, the next day’s return to The Big Smog sort of ruined the joy of cycling that was that 100 miles.
For me, it’s about the 20-50 mile zone which finds me on an absolute high at the moment – it’s an incredible feeling. Except in my buttocks – they were starting to complain a bit (I was told today that a good Brooks saddle is like your rear being hugged). Nevertheless, that’s 10 miles easier than last time. Yet, it was the post 65-mark which I think was much more arduous – the last 20 were a bit nasty, apart from the 2/3 I belted at the end. Master Balls had blasted himself and ruined himself for the post-55 section of it, but picked up fairly quickly, around the 70/80 mark, and I was just enjoying letting the bike flow and the countryside. But, nevermind all that.
The return to London – heavy bag on my back, tired legs, but satisfied – was the nightmare. Can’t go more than 10 meters without a traffic light, on roads that have issues than a particularly unfortunate spotty teenager. My heart broke, my mouth swore, and my legs ached.
Is it worth having a bike that can do anything apart from buffer you against the awfulness which is the London cycling experience? Any ability to go for more than 10 meters at a go, let alone 10 miles at a go, makes one feel that surely tears are the only reasonable answer to London’s current road situation.
The pull of London is getting in the way of the pull of two wheels, two legs, and the truth. I just feel like I’m complaining at this moment, but to be honest there are loads of great London bike blogs (and more great city blogs) that go into infrastructure – I just keep my head down, pedal and swear (and just smile when the cars can’t move for bikes (we’ll take the city back by their want or our sheer mass, one day…!))
But, 100 miles on Sunday was, generally, bloody fantastic fun and well worth doing. Now we just need to start doing 100 miles that actually get us somewhere ….
PS. I have been telling whoever’ll listen that me and Master Balls did another 100.
PPS. Having just done 10 miles in London with fairly little traffic, it’s hard not to feel London is a hell of a lot of fun without the cars getting in the fucking way.
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