City cycling as a key to the soul

This is a celebration of the mundane — and the beauty that goes with it.

It will describe the small triumphs and disasters that make up the first and last part of my working day as I cycle into and out of the centre of London from the outer fringe of the city.

It will draw on the more than thirty years I have cycled through London so that I know its streets as well as the features of my wife and children.

It is the confession of a strategically illegal cyclist, who breaks a law on almost every road but does so with the watchfulness of a fox and the selflessness of a saint.

It will give an unprecedented insight into what a London cyclist really thinks and feels, but it will not actually be about cycling at all.

Police outriders ferry a stream of heads of state to dinner with the Queen at Buckingham Palace

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Day One

May 18 2012

Balance Sheet

I have not hit anyone

I have not been hit

I have not been shouted at or abused

I have not shouted at or abused anyone

I have not frozen or been soaked or blown sideways by the wind

I have gone through red lights, ridden through parks and gone onto the pavement

But I have stopped for people at zebra crossings and managed not to knock someone over who walked in front of me without looking

My biggest triumph was when another cyclist actually gave way to let me pass in heavy traffic.  But he had a handlebar moustache and may not have truly been a London cyclist.

My closest disaster was making a jogger jump out of the way as I swung into them without looking at a traffic light

My route took me from Barnes Common down to Hammersmith Bridge, past Olympia, through High Street Kensington and then across Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.

Every part of the route has a memory attached to it. ¬†Every part of it has some emotion particular to it — a childhood playground, a school, a first kiss, a broken affair, a family argument…

The Union Jacks have been brought out for the Jubilee since I was last here a week ago

 

Coming home in the evening after 7, every street around Buckingham Palace had phalanxes of police motorcycles and limousines with blazing lights bringing dozens of dignitaries to a state dinner.

Foreign news teams at the Palace

 

Leaving the swish of chauffeured heads of state behind, I hugged the river and Embankment all the way back to Fulham and towards Putney Bridge

 

 

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