Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fat Man on Bicycle - Still Alive Shock

Yes, I've been trying out my Strida this week in a daily commute from Paddington to Liverpool Street (while I wait for the UK government to build cross-rail, ahem).

By God there have been some hairy moments, but I think I'm almost there with the route, and I've managed to work out, without being killed first, that the best way around Trafalgar Square is simply to walk from The Mall to Northumberland Avenue via the pedestrian crossings. Yes, it's feeble; but effective and quicker than cycling.

So what's the Strida been like? I've really enjoyed the ride, especially alongside the Serpentine and down Constitution Hill. Yes, I'm possibly the slowest cyclist in London, at my one-geared 12mph, but what the heck; at least I can see the leaves on the trees and feel the wind through the ventilation holes in my Star Wars-style helmet. It's also nice that I've caused so much amusement for everyone who's had to witness my daily overland ramblings, with a former blind side flanker partial to the odd cow pie, washed down with gallons of Pinot Noir, lumping along on 10 kilograms of burnished aluminium, framed with spangly orange mudguards, whilst wearing the brightest yellow and orange vest in Christendom. I think the phrase "Circus elephant riding a comedy unicycle" comes to mind. But what could be better than bringing some happiness into the world?

One thing I have been surprised by is the utter lack of camaraderie from my fellow cyclists. No cheery waves or calls of encouragement, just bitter faces as they slice me down for daring to get in their way. What a miserable bunch, for the most part, and nothing as friendly as my fellow motorcyclists all were, when Maturin Towers was propelled along by Honda CBR Power.

A proper bike?

Though once you've been cut up by a few buses, taxis, and white vans, I'm sure much of the amusement of life fades from your soul. Plus, many of them are probably communist ecomentalists and that comes with a whole world of anger of its own.

But the best news is that I've made it past three days without sloping off back down into the alternative Soviet wonderland of the Tube! Let's see if that continues into the wind and rain of winter. Pip pip!!

PS> If you do decide to take the plunge yourself, and go cycling across London, a word of warning; Never (and I mean never) go down Fleet Street! I did, and it was only through blind stupidity and comedy recklessness that I managed to make it out the other end with most of my body parts still intact. You have been warned.

PPS> Maturin route from Paddington to Liverpool Street: Down to Lancaster Gate, through Hyde Park, along the Serpentine, across Hyde Park corner, down Constitution Hill, down the Mall, walk around Trafalgar Square anti-clockwise until on opposite southbound side of Northumberland Avenue, down to the Embankment, along the Embankment until Upper Thames Street gets to Cannon Street station, up the hill to Bank and you're just about there. If anyone has any other better routes (with an emphasis, wherever possible, of being separated from buses, vans, and taxis, please let me know). Current Maturin time: A stately 45 minutes, with plenty of rests at lights - though I'm working on getting this down to 35 minutes, the same average time as the Tube (Paddington-Bakerloo-Oxford Circus-Central Line-Bank).

PPPS> I still haven't turned into a socialist yet, as I feared. Though this may only be a matter of time. If you hear me utter the phrase 'saving the planet', please arrange to have me taken out and re-educated with a copy of Uncle Murray's Man, Economy, and State.

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