Saturday, August 26, 2006

Critical Mass Ride

Critical Mass - Waterloo Bridge
Originally uploaded by ahconway.
Years ago before Gemma was born, Kim and I came upon a Critical Mass ride in the West End and joined it for a bit. Great fun: hundreds of cyclists riding happily through the centre of town escorted by dozens of Met Police on bikes - not to mention cyclists and bikes of every description.

So this was my last chance to do the ride again since they go on the last Friday of each month and we'll be in our new house in Boston for the September ride.

I loaded Gem into the Christiania with a brimming snack bag and various other provisions and set off for Waterloo, where the ride was to start. This was kind of a big deal since it was our longest ride on the new bike ever. But the weather was nice, and Gem had just had a long nap.

We used the Kim's and my tried-and-tested route: Regents Park to Hampstead Road, then down Gower Street to Covent Garden and across the bridge. No problems at all on the ride there - we both enjoyed it tremendously. One valuable lesson about the trike, though. I wanted to bring the covers (top & sides) in case of rain or cold, but I didn't want to start with them. So we set off with just the aluminium frames in place.... and when the road got bumpy, they sprung out and started swinging out to the sides! I managed to secure them and eventually put the side covers on, which solved that problem.

We got to the South Bank nice and early, which meant that we could see some of the wackier bikes being prepared, and there was live music as well. There was interest in the Christiania from various folks, and we had a nice time chatting about it.

The ride itself was super-fun. After a LOUD rendition of Queen's Bicycle Race from one of the boom-box-bikes, we all headed off around the roundabout at Waterloo, then back over the bridge. We certainly succeeded in taking over the streets - southbound traffic over the bridge was entirely stopped, as was the traffic approaching the roundabout.

Then we went up the Kingsway to Holborn, then west along New Oxford Street to Oxford Circus, and south to Trafalgar Square. It went a little slowly because we all had to stop at various times. This gave us opportunities to chat with other riders; lots of people were curious about the trike: "Isn't it heavy?" "How much did it cost?" "Can you put other stuff besides children in there?"

By the time we got to Trafalgar Square it was starting to get dark and Gem was getting tired, so we peeled off and went up the Mall and home through Mayfair.

It was getting coldish by the time we reached Marylebone, so we put the cover on, and Gemma was quite content for the rest of the ride.

I reckon we did about 12 miles or so on the ride - it's great that we were all up to it: my legs, Gemma's attention span, and the Christiania too! Certainly makes me optimistic for long rides in the spring, once we've settled in to our new house (and the snow has melted...)

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