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Category: Cycling

The Layers of Memory locked within the streets of London

Posted in Cycling, London, and Memories

Bright and early this morning, I got up, put on the lycra and cycled across four London Boroughs to get to the newsdesk that I’m at this week.

I’ve missed cycling for pleasure since the start of my course, but today, commuting held a special wonder as the chill in the air was refreshing, reminiscent of a spring birthing.

Whizzing past numerous streets, I came across old roads that I’d lived on, made roots in, felt ecstatic traversing through and others where I was silenced and pierced with pain that I couldn’t carry on my fragile shoulders.

Never losing sight of the tarmac ahead of me with the snaking, unpredictable traffic, I found myself being coated in my memories as I passed familiar sites and sounds on the streets that had once opened their arms out to me in an affectionate embrace.

I stumbled upon cafes where I’d sat and basked in the sun, had serious conversations with many a friend and saturated my being with coffee and expressos into the small hours of the morning. Sidled up next to restaurants where a hurried lunch was grabbed and other hidey-holes where I’d unloaded myself. A network of personal meaning and depth that I cannot deny.

London has been my home now for over twelve years and certain places are steeped with layer upon layer of meaning, memory and emotions. Some with a tinge of sadness that spikes tears in me, others filled with beauty and wonder like looking up into the green leaves of a tree with the sun breaking through the verdent canvas.

I’ve loved, I’ve lost but always with intent and at times have wondered the streets of a cruel and brutal city feeling raw and newborn, trying to contain it all.

This great metropolis has adopted me and occupies a precious place within me. I know it like an intimate lover and find it impossible to get fully lost within its folds and turns. There is always a cherished sense of wonder at my appropriated home even though it can hurt and bruise me.

London you have my heart.

Another addition to The Fleet

Posted in Brompton, and Cycling

5399957[1]I am unashamedly into cycling and own a whole family of bikes. I have a wall in the hallway which is occupied by bicycles hung up in various forms. When I have more time, I shall take a photo and post it up, but for now, you’ll have to make do with this photo grabbed from my phone of my newest set of wheels.

Today, I met up with a friend and ‘adopted’ his Brompton folding bike. These beautiful feats of clever engineering need no introduction. When I started cycling again as an adult in London back in 2006, I coveted one of these bikes and eventually, years later, I now have one of my own.

Taking to the sunny roads on the Brompton, I was delighted. It felt like how a bike rides when you’re a small child. I haven’t ridden a non-road bike for a number of years now and noticed immediately how upright the positioning is on the Brompton.

One thing that I will need to get used to is the novelty of cycling in ‘normal’ clothes again as I converted to lycra a few years ago.

I look forward to the many adventures to be had!

Wending through country lanes on two wheels

Posted in Cycling

With the weather turning grey and drizzly outside and looking decidedly autumnal, I was lucky to catch what was left of the rare autumn sun on the bike a few days ago. I woke up that morning and the sun was streaming in through the curtains. I knew it would be wise to make the most of this and headed out into the nearby country lanes on my Salsa Casseroll bike, Verde (or the gold bike as she is sometimes affectionately referred to as). I pedalled off at a pootle pace and took my camera with me in a pannier.

Early into the ride, just leaving the confines of suburbia there is a steep short sharp hill that beats me every time. Having gotten out of the habit of riding regularly and being nowhere near as fit as I used to be, I struggle with any form of hills or bumps. This time I managed enough momentum to make it halfway up the ascent before stopping, resting and carrying on huffing and puffing.

This photo due to the wideness of the lens angle doesn’t quite show the steepness of the hill but you get the jist of it, either that or I am just that unfit now!:

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There is some outstandingly beautiful countryside nearby which is a real joy to cycle in. Having done the majority of my cycling in London, apart from a few long rides out to the coastlines or just outside of the M25 corridor; it really is lovely to have smooth tarmac roads uninterrupted by traffic lights and delightfully clean air.

I really hadn’t planned that day to be out for long or to cycle far. I only took a sports bottle of plain water and no food. I always, always get hungry cycling, perhaps from the outset this wasn’t the wisest choice!

 

It was one of those rides where I just kept cycling, I went through Farleigh Wallop, Nutley, The Candovers: Brown Candover, Preston Candover, Chiltern Candover and then onto Swarraton.  I passed fields with black and white cows, sheep and another field with black cows looking at me with their inscrutable dark eyes giving away nothing. I cycled past sections dense with trees and many a thatched house and quaint structures before I started to realise that I was getting a bit hungry. I pedalled on further until I saw my saviour, little black jewels glistening in a hedgegrow. I stopped and hunted around for any blackberries that had not been eaten by birds and with a meagre bounty of blackberries sitting in my growling stomach, I carried on.

5837341[1]By this point I’d reached Old Arlesford and decided to turn round and head home as I was hungry, tired and the lactic acid was starting to build up in my muscles leading to burning quads. Long gone are the days of training at my lactic threshold and to be honest, I was hungry and getting tired by this stage. I pushed homewards, eyes greedily scanning the bushes for more berries as I pedalled along. I saw what looked like red currants glistening abundantly in the sun but as tempting as they were I wasn’t guaranteed that they were good to eat so cycled past. Eventually I glanced upon a bush groaning with blackberries and clambered up onto the knoll and had my fill until I was replete with the sweetness of wild berries. Motorists in their cars speeding by must have wondered what a lycra clad cyclist was doing ambling along the hedgegrow! I made it back in one piece powered by berries without collapsing in a heap by the side of the road (I have also been known to do this on very rare illness induced occasions). Twenty six miles roughly all in all.

A day of some of my favourite things, foraging for wild food, cycling uninterrupted in the country lanes and glorious sunshine.