Someone once described American football to me as a sport in which one spends six seconds absolutely playing one’s heart out, during which time everyone in the vicinity tries to plough you to the ground, before a whistle is blown and everything stops for a minute or two, to be repeated several times over. Based on yesterday’s experience, I can say that much the same can be said of cycling into central London.
Having limited myself to quiet country lanes for the last few days, it was rather daunting to come across the first big, busy roundabout as I crossed under the M25 and entered the capital. So much so, that I quickly donned my high-vis jacket and, for the first time in many years, a helmet. I then proceeded along busy streets in a rather vague southward direction towards the Thames, stopping and starting between the lights, with huge road-hungry buses bearing down on me, revving motorcycles and reckless cyclists spinning their intricate webs around me and amongst the traffic. Not really knowing London beyond the interior of King’s Cross station, I submitted myself wholly to the directions of the locals.
I passed the newly built Olympic stadium, and crossed Tower Bridge early in the afternoon, before ambling down Old Kent Road (based solely on the fact that it was familiar from Monopoly) towards Bromley, where a large mug of tea and some cream scones where waiting for me at my aunt and uncle’s home, where I was to stay the night. Every hardship, it seems, has its glorious reward.