Thursday, 22 June 2006

Midsummer Madness

Yesterday I enjoyed one of the percs of being self employed. I slept all day and didn't go to work.

As ever it is all Slightly's fault. the night before he dragged me to a solstice bike ride:
Wednesday 21 June: Midsummer Madness - dawn of the longest day

Meet: 2am: Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich 

2.30am: South Needle, London Bridge 

3am: Bar Italia, Frith Street 

4am: top of Primrose Hill 4.43am: sunrise! 

6am: breakfast. The Globe Theatre. Bankside.
Summer solstice sunrise on the longest day on the year.

Cafe Italia on Frith Street, 3.30am
Cafe Italia on Frith Street, 3.30am (starring Slightly)

I got to his place at around midnight, and we watched a bit of TV, drank some mint tea and got ready. We arrived at the meeting point about 40 minutes early. Slowly, people started to arrive and by the time we set off there were about 30 of us. We rode to London Bridge to meet another group of about the same number of people and crossed the river in the direction of the West End for a pit stop at Bar Italia on Frith Street where I witnessed fraternisation between a biker and a cyclist (*shudders*).

The crowd was quite varied, including grannies, young couples (both straight and gay), men of all ages; mostly white people but also black and east asian people.

Frith Street, 3.30am
Frith Street, 3.30am

By the time we got to Primrose Hill were we would wait for the sun to rise, it was about 4.20am and it was starting to be light already. The sky was however quite cloudy and soon it started to drizzle. Slightly and I stoically took out a blanket and eat our jam sandwiches while drinking more mint tea, watching as nightly London slowly disappeared in the rain.

As the official time for sunrise (4.43am) neared, other people joined us on the hill presumably not expecting to find about 50 cyclists already there.

There was a distinct hippy feel to the moment. A small group of three young men who had traveled with us were smoking joints while listening to the Doors and the musical version of War of the Worlds.

London from Primerose Hill, 4.20am
London from Primerose Hill, 4.20am

After the sun had official, if not visibly, risen, a smaller group of us made there way to the Globe Theatre on the South Bank for breakfast. I can't say I was exactly impressed by the reception we got there. There was coffee and tea and a few sandwiches but we had to pay for them and they were quite overpriced. We were also confined to the court yard outside the theatre, when somewhere warm with seats would have been most welcome... a good thing it had stopped raining.

On the whole, however, I rather enjoyed the experience. Riding around London at night offers a different perspective and being in a group with virtually no cars around is a new experience too. It was interested to notice, though slightly bewildering, that many people who saw us on the way, thought we were protesters...

Thanks to the ride I have become aware of parts of my body, I had not really been aware of before, although interestingly, my legs are not aching.

Look at Slightly's pictures and read his post on this.

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