Despite the foul weather, I’m really glad I made the effort to get to this ride. I suppose the conditions could have been worse, but my initial reaction was that the event was going to be a poorly-attended damp squib. I couldn’t be bothered with a feeder ride and took the train straight to Lpoo St and made my way to Hyde Park Corner and then found the Animals’ War Memorial. There was no-one I knew there so I carefully ate the marmite sandwiches I had brought with me in anticipation that a few of us would have lunch somewhere. I also ordered a coffee and waited, unimpressed by the group of cyclists around the Speakers’ Corner café that remained disappointingly small. YACFers arrived in dribs and drabs: MarcusJB and Teamonster, the latter on the front of the most amazing recumbent tandem. One lovely surprise was a text from Nutkin, who was to put in a appearance. Charlotte arrived en Bromptonand I still can’t get used to Jurek on a fixie with mudguards.
After loads of hanging around we set off and then, five minutes later, we stopped again so that the organisers could make speeches that perhaps the 200 people at the front could have heard. We were not far from the amplifiers and loudspeakers, but I could not make out anything intelligible. Anyone behind us, which must have been about 90% of the ride, would have ben able to hear nothing. Some of the more svelte forummers were beginning to feel the cold.
Eventually we made proper progress, but mostly it was a test of slow cycling and balancing for as long as possible before putting a foot down. Two Flat Erics and Domestique came and had a natter: the hardy pair had caught the train from Westcliff to Barking and come in on that feeder ride. Just as we were being led into Temple Station, the official ride finish, Notsototalnewbie had a better idea and we left the Embankment and returned towards Charing Cross because she had the facility to buy cheap food at a particular café so we went there to find it shut. Luckily my calorie radar was active and I’ve noticed an “All Bar One” a short way back in Villiers Street so five of us settled round a table there. Almost simultaneously a few of us noticed that we had missed calls from Charlotte, whom I had last seen pointing her big one at people. I hastily texted a reply but by that time she was on the tube heading for Julian, who was returning from a triumphal overnight ride to Hull.
Whereas initially there were five of us there (Nutkin, NSTN, Rob, Parsley and myself) we were joined by Butterfly and Clarion, fresh from their travails to Hull, and, later, Andrij, who had been purchasing exotic velocipedes from Mike. We had a good lunch (the minted lamb burger seemed to be a favourite) and the profiteroles went down well, washed as they were by Doom Bar, merlot and latte.
My one regret was that I hadn’t taken with me the small gift I have for Nutkin. However, we have agreed that we need another ride some time in the not too distant future so that I can offer her some balls to suck whereas she’s going to give me a good fudge. It’ll be sweet, there’s no doubt of that.
Nutkin, Rob, Jurek and Charlotte.
Teamonster’s Greenspeed GTT. That’s one hell of a tricycle!
NSTN & Nutkin deep in conversation
This is who we were all riding for.
NSTN engulfs a profiterole. Half of Parsley is in the background.