Nightrider, Nighthorror, Night Night

Some of you may have noticed another resounding silence. And I apologise. I wasn’t fibbing when I said I would be posting more regularly, but I took part in the London Nightrider event just over a week ago and time since then has been spent sleeping and doing a strange waddle/shuffle/limp to the loo.

Nightrider – for those who haven’t heard of it – is an event where thousands of cyclists enter to complete a 100km route around London in a night. And, although I’d love to toot my own horn and say I finished, I must be honest – and I couldn’t. My own fault, but I gave it my best shot and I plan to try again next year…I did get a long way, and then wound up hobbling 3 hours home since trains weren’t running, buses don’t allow bikes and an old hip injury flaring up again (yes, apparently I am in fact 90) meant I wouldn’t be getting back on the bike any time soon.

Unfortunately I let exams and job hunting overtake my training, and after the course began on a set of horribly steep hills (especially after – due to an unclear sign – we all went the wrong way down an enormous hill, only to have to turn around and cycle back up it.) was left knackered from the very start.

But onwards and upwards; next year I will be training more, finding myself a big ol’ hill to conquer, and hopefully get some amazingly sculpted legs in the process.

And despite not having finished, and admittedly being disappointed in myself and my unsculpted pins, it was a worthy event. The solidarity of cyclists grouping together in the dark of night to cycle around one of the most beautiful cities in the world was inspiring; especially given the vast amount of people doing so for charity. Most people were very friendly, with lots of chats and helping hands being offered when – inevitably – some bikes broke down.

Although the hills were…well, a bit of a bitch, some of the views from the area around Crystal Palace and Greenwich were stunning – looking right down across to Canary Wharf. Having started at 22.30, we reached Tower Bridge – my favourite point on the route. It was so striking at night…London in general reveals a hidden beauty after the sun has set. If only there were more free view points from which to marvel at the capital.

As I was on a bike, I’m sorry to say I don’t really have any photos. I am not one of those magnificent beings that can ride a bike with no hands. But here’s a map:

NightRiderMap

I knew when I was done. It was either continue and risk genuinely hurting myself or admitting defeat. This was a relief in one sense, due to the relief from a particularly gnawing pain from a nasty case of saddle-bum. However the next 3 hours were spent pounding the pavements of London, rolling my bike – using it, at some points, as a make shift crutch. I was wearing a panda outfit to raise money for the WWF, eliciting lots of drunken shouts from late night revellers. At one point, it all got too much, and one of the most surreal situations I’ve experienced since living in London (trust me, there’s been a few) was born…

Sitting on the pavement near Borough and Kennington at 2.16am, wearing a panda suit and drenched in sweat. Slugging down Lucozade with a bike on top of me and a helmet perched jauntily on my head. The drunken slurs and the music from nearby nightclubs. Luckily I wasn’t alone, my other half was walking home with me having also taken part. It was possibly even more surreal for her: sitting next to a sweaty panda loudly slurping Lucozade and commenting somewhat overly philosophically, given the situation, on a variety of issues, complaints and musings.

From there the walk felt never ending, through Kennington, Elephant and Castle, Brixton and on to Streatham. There was one unnerving, Groundhog Day like moment where we looped back on ourselves in a circular subway and realised we were walking up the same road we had just come from, on the opposite side.

There aren’t many exciting landmarks in that area of London. Some odd sights…furniture in the middle of the pavement. A guy so drunk he couldn’t stand (although that isn’t really that odd a sight, on a Saturday night in London). Reggae blasting at 4 am. One man had a barbecue all fired up and going.

A barbecue?!

When back, all I remember is falling into bed and passing out despite hunger and desperate need of a shower. The sun was up, although there had been no spectacular sunrise. It just went from dark, to dark blue, to a dull grey. But we were so exhausted we probably wouldn’t have appreciated.

The next day involved pain, tears and an Indian take out. Bring on next year. I will not be beaten again…

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