The sun is shining. The rain clouds have moved on. For now. That’s the decision made: blue sky through the sky light / cycle to work. Non-negotiable. My head agrees. My body is protesting. Still protesting from being hauled to Brighton on Friday evening. Three days of lazy recovery isn’t enough anymore. After performing some half-hearted and medically unproven stretches I creak out the door, blinking into the still bright morning sunlight. Often it’s started raining in the time from 1st sight of blue sky to eventual departure.
It’s my 1st time cycling past Westminster since the EU Referendum result. The Media gantries in Abingdon Street Gardens are empty, with the BBCs standing grandest – I assume it’s the BBC’s as it’s the one where Laura Kuenssberg and Co. have been camped out since Thursday. The smallest one, a cheap ‘purchased at Homebase’ gazebo, squeezed in at the back, is labelled ‘BBC Radio Scotland’, like an afterthought. I’m disappointed, I had expected crowds, protest marches, maybe even riots, at least some milling around. Instead, all quiet, for now, perhaps politicians and protesters don’t get out of bed this early. Even when the future of our nation is at stake.
The road outside the Houses of Parliament is pockmarked with potholes and canyons in the tarmac, circumnavigating Parliament Square requires concentration. The makeshift memorial to Jo Cox has been hidden away, shunted to the back of Parliament Square Gardens, between Ghandi and some other bloke in a gown, I can’t tell who it is as I’m busy concentrating on following the new designed for cyclists cycle path, whilst not being mown down by a juggernaut in the process. The newly constructed cycle paths are meant to make cycling safer and easier, a grand plan that sounded better in Boris’s Mayoral sound bites than it works in real life. Wait a minute…
If you could choose to ride your bike anywhere in the world, suburbia would not top the list. It probably wouldn’t even make the list. Typical then that my 1st blogged ride trundled through Kingston-Upon-Thames, Thames Ditton and inevitably Surbiton. Ironic even, when last week I was cycling in the French Alps. That’s cycling. We’re always chasing the perfect ride but happy to take what we can get.
Besides, last week the idea for a blog hadn’t materialised. It was still locked deep in my subconscious. Besides I couldn’t think. Subconsciously or otherwise. I was too busy sucking in every last molecule of oxygen from the thinning mountain air, too in awe of the awesome mountains, just too damn scared to think as I plummeted back to the valley floor on ragged roads beaten up by the brute winter.
I’m doing suburbia a disservice. Start in Richmond Park, cut along the River Thames at Ham, speed past Sandown Park, past Hampton Court Palace, through Bushey Park and up Richmond Hill – wondering as always which town house is Mick Jagger’s, slowing for the famous view from Richmond Hill (the only view in England to be protected by an Act of Parliament, a view that inspired the works of Wordsworth and Turner amongst others). Not bad for suburbia.
I had to enjoy all of this on my own as I’d broken the Golden Rule of our cycle club: never leave anyone behind. (Again). My ride buddy had suffered 3 punctures and we’d agreed to part by mutual consent as he resorted to tracking down a taxi that would take a bike as well as a sweaty man dressed in Lycra at 8am on a Sunday morning.
When is it OK to leave someone? When you’ve been together for too long? When you just fancy a change? The United Kingdom joined the European Union on 1st January 1973, over 30 years ago. It’s been a difficult union, a dysfunctional marriage marred by petty spats. I think there’s a very real chance that the UK will vote to leave not because the Get Britain Out camp presents a compelling argument for exit but because we’ve been in the EU for a long time and we all just fancy a change. Which is a lot less reason to leave someone than 3 punctures.
check out my ride