Blogathon 23/14 – altered images

Earlier this evening I copied a load of helmetcam video on to the laptop from the Drift HD Ghost.

I’ve just had a quick flick through it.

There are two ‘commutes’ (one trip to work, one trip back home again), and a load of footage from yesterday’s marathon trip down to that London (and all the footage through the centre of London to Buckingham Palace Road, then to Borough Market, then out through north London to the M1).

What’s very interesting to note is how my riding style changed once I began to hit the lunacy that is London’s traffic problem.

Normally, even on my commutes, I’m in a well-balanced mental place. Even though I do like to push on, there are times when I’m prepared to wait back, give people space. I’m always anticipatory; always calculating what might happen next, always thinking about possibilities and idiocies.

But I’m bold, I don’t fanny about (because dithering is as dangerous as recklessness). The DSA set great emphasis on ‘making progress’, and yes, they are absolutely right to do this, because ditherers (moreso on a motorbike) will get eaten alive by aggressive vehicle drivers.

The difference I noticed was that as soon as I hit the stupidity of London, I notched up a mental gear. I shifted from ‘bold but calculating’ to ‘assertive with a touch of aggressive’.

Watching the footage back, it is as if I was working to make space between me and the other traffic; to create a bubble, a safety barrier, between them and me.

I’ve ridden bikes in a lot of cities – and not just cities in the UK.

Berlin, Paris, Cardiff, Brussels (shudder), New York, LA, Madrid, Rome, Manchester, and many, many more.

But only London’s ‘Death Race 2000’ traffic seems to push me to a mental place where my riding becomes so assertive.

Why is that?

Are there more lunatics per Sq Ft on the roads of London than any of the other cities?

That may, on closer consideration, have more value than you’d consider, at first.

Certainly NY and LA both have equally crammed, but less chaotic road systems.

So too does Rome. And Paris.

So what’s the problem with London?

What is it with being on the road in London that pushes us to be so assertive/aggressive?

And when I say ‘us’ I don’t believe I’m making a grand assumption, because whenever I looked about me, I saw other people driving cars, buses, lorries, riding motorbikes, bicycles in much more aggressive styles than other cities I’ve ridden in.

And I’m not even counting the idiot-controlled ‘Boris Bikes’, ridden by people who clearly have no grasp of British traffic law, let alone any degree of understanding about which side of the road we use in this country!

But why, London, why is your traffic so bad?

And why do those who drive/ride/cycle in it push their mood to a near mind-altering level of aggression?

Answers on a postcard.

Oh yes, and there’s a very short excerpt of Friday’s trip to work just here:

Blogathon 22/14 – miles to go before I zzzz

It’s been a full day.

I’m in bed, falling asleep, but determined to get this post out to maintain Feb blogathon solidarity with Mr Masher.

Early this morning I rode the Daytona to that London. I took the cross-country route; down the A5, through Towcester and Milton Keynes (got lost there), and on down through Leighton Buzzard, Tring, Elstree, Hendon, Brent Cross, Baker Street, Oxford Street and finally to Buckingham Palace Road.

I met the very lovely S in Pret; we talked, then walked and talked and suddenly found ourselves on the south bank near St Thomas’ Hospital and run out of time because the hours had flown by.

I legged it back to Victoria, hopped on the Daytona and zipped through the London traffic along Embankment, to Borough Market.

The bloody lovely L arrived just as I had found somewhere to park; we went to a trendy eaterie and had something that was vaguely Spanish to eat. Almost straight away the hours had evaporated and it was time to go.

I navigated the Daytona across to Blackfriars Bridge, then north through Ludgate Circus, Farringdon, past Sadler’s Wells, Islington, Highbury, Holloway Road, Archway, Highgate,  Finchley, and on to the M1 at Copthall. then to Luton.

Mr Masher made all the right kind of noises about the Daytona, and then he made me a cup of tea. We sat and talked and then I was invited in to his Amazing Den Of Geekery (as it shall be known henceforth).

After a period of intense jealousy, I got back on the Daytona and travelled home.

And now it’s approaching 11pm and I’m tucked up in bed, thinking about a good day out with friends, an excellent day on a bike, and the wonderful, very distinctive noise that the Daytona’s triple-cylinder engine makes.

It goes a bit like this:

 

Blogathon 18/14 – commuting differences

Today I commuted on the VFR.

When I got to work I hopped off the bike and did a little dance and didn’t stop smiling for at least an hour (even though it was 6.45am when I arrived at work).

And on the homewards leg, when I arrived back at my house, I danced around the VFR singing loudly and smiling.

Even now my heart is full of such joy – this is what commuting on a motorbike can do for you.

Tomorrow I will catch a train to London, and then I shall ride on the Victoria line from Euston to Victoria.

Then I shall walk, about a mile, down to Westminster, dodging people as I go.

After a five-hour technical meeting, I shall walk the mile back from Westminster to Victoria, I shall submerge myself underground, and shall ride back to Euston.

Then I shall endure the homeward leg on The World’s Most Expensive Railway.

You want to reckon whether I’ll be singing and dancing and smiling when I get off the train in Rugby, at 7pm tomorrow evening?

Or when I get off the tube at Euston, before I get my train back home?

The inhumanity that we, in this country, seem to accept with no thought of rejection, that we inflict upon our commuting selves every day, is indescribable.

Since when did it become acceptable to shoe-horn people in to spaces so crammed with other humans that the threat of injury is very real?

Am I the only person who can remember that the Moorgate Tube Disaster produced rules (rules, not guidelines) on acceptable limits of square footage per passenger?

Am I the only person who can remember that the needlessly high death rate at Moorgate was because of overcrowding?

Does anyone – ever – get off the rush-hour underground, singing and dancing and happy and smiling (other than in satisfaction at having got out alive)?

The elephant in the room that is London’s transport calamity (because no matter how or where one looks, it is a terrible calamity), is that the entire transport network has reached capacity.

Where does London go from here?

Seriously.

Where does London’s rammed transport network go from here?

Boxing Day roadtrip!

On New Year’s Day almost 365 days ago, I took the Bandit down to WsM for a jolly little trip.

Today (Boxing Day) I took the VFR down to Ace Cafe in That London for breakfast.

When I got home I cleaned the bike up, cleaned me up, warmed me up, and then I wrote a film review about The Raid.

And then I put together a 2m 43s video of today’s little roadtrip.

Those Londoners, they’re totes crazy!

All life is here

I have just finished watching the BBC docuseries ‘Routemasters’.

Although there was one episode that heavily featured the eponymous London bus, the docuseries was, essentially, about London and the various forms of transport (and associated management systems) that run through it:

  • TfL buses
  • National coaches
  • International coaches
  • The underground
  • Cyclists
  • Lorries
  • Cars

 

Although pedestrian (pun!) at times, each episode contained at least one surprising piece of information, contained some very interesting views of the London transport infrastructure, and contained some revealing insights to the human condition.

I’ve learned a lot from the series; some of the lessons were less obvious:

  • That not every incoming international coach traveller has their passport checked by customs and immigration at the point of entry in to the country
  • That no matter how weird some people look, their views are often entertaining, educated and worth listening to
  • That some people are complete and utter cunts twats

 

But the two overriding facts that the series has reinforced are:

  • How frail London’s infrastructure is (the slightest incident can paralyse sections of the city for several hours)
  • How little room for any further growth there is left in London’s transport infrastructure

‘Routemasters’ has been a very low-key, under-marketed docuseries.

If it swings round again, give it a try.

Because, in the words of one elderly gentleman who has been voluntarily patrolling the walkways of Victoria Coach Station for 40 years…

All life is here.

Ponies and stuff

Accompanying five attractive young ladies to the London International Horse Show at Olympia is just one of those, you know, ‘it’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it’, kind of things.

So yesterday I took my bravery pills, drove to Oxford, jumped on a train and headed in to that London, to do that thing.

We had a giggle.

There was the inevitable amount of piss-taking (Clare and Tor taking the piss out of me, obv), and laughs and oohs and aahs and gossip (so much gossip!) and champagne.

We also got to watch some very talented ponies (horses) jump staggering heights (said someone who starts to get nervy above 1.25m).

And it was fun to meet up with a bunch of fiends friends and have a chuckle.

The time is now rapidly approaching 2am and I should be asleep but my head is still winding down.

So I’ll pootle about on the internet for a while.

And then fall asle……

Bit tired/not sleepy

Saturday I did as planned; worked until 1pm then went in to London for Ash’s excellent film premiere.

Drank quite a bit.

Stayed over in a local hostelry.

Went to Ace Cafe this morning for breakfast.

Came home and worked some more.

And saw this phase of the project to its conclusion.

I’m relieved, so relieved.

And tired.

But not sleepy.

I might go out for dinner.

But going out for dinner on your own is as attractive as cooking for one.

Still, at least I wouldn’t have to cook.

🙂

ps. The Bandit behaved brilliantly on the way in to, through, and through again and on the way out of London.

I took a minor detour yesterday, to ride past the first flat I ever owned.

But I wish Londoners would learn to drive.

Because they obviously don’t know how to.

It’s a mini adventure!

One of these weeks I’m going to get a weekend that is peaceful, relaxing and, you know, involves doing absolutely nothing…

I’m working. I’ve been awake since 4.30am and up since 4.45am.

It’s a Very Big Weekend workwise, with stuff going on 24/7 from Friday evening up until Sunday afternoon.

Stress and sleep don’t fit together too well.

Anyway enough about that.

This evening I’m going to the premiere of ‘Shift’, a film made by the uber-talented Ash. Yes, I have work-related reporting milestones this evening too, but I’m confident I can juggle.

But, due to a couple of factors (1. the fantastic weather forecast for the weekend and 2. the film premiere being in that London), I have, at this late stage, decided to turn the weekend in to a mini-adventure.

Later today I shall pack my rucksack, jump on the Bandit and wend my way to London – on the backroads, not on the motorway.

After a couple of hours, I shall pitch up in the general area where the film is being shown.

I’ve booked a room at a nearby hostelry, so I may have a glass or two of lemonade this evening.

And tomorrow morning, head clear and fresh, I shall potter my way back to last Sunday morning’s venue – the Ace Cafe in north London – for another gargantuan All Day Breakfast.

Then get back home to crack on with the work stuff.

This is my plan.

I shall try to make it so.

Days like these

My weekend hasn’t really happened; there has been much work-related stuff but, as ever, I’ll not go in to detail about that here

I did snatch a few hours off, today, and managed to put that time to Great Use!

I washed a Barbour and a Drizabone riding coat.

And also washed last week’s work-shirts and various socks and underwear.

Soz, bordering on the TMI there.

And rode the Bandit in to Norf Landahn’s Ace Cafe where I met the redoubtable Mr Masher and his brother-in-law (Graham).

And we did partake of the All Day Breakfasts and Lo, we did Eat Heartily.

At Ace today was a meeting of the BSA Bantam Society (or similar).

The first motorbike I ever (knowingly) touched was a BSA Bantam.

It belonged to Forgotten Firstname Griffiths who lived a couple of miles down the lane at Llansabadd Farm.

We mucked about with that Bantam; it was the first time I learned to take things apart and put them back together again. Successfully.

We rode it around the fields, crashed it in to trees and ditches and – when that happened – we learned to rebuild it.

It was weird looking at the familiar-yet-alien-by-today’s-design-standards Bantams. They seemed very ‘other worldly’.

I also saw a Laverda Jota, the 1,000cc little brother to the 1,200cc Laverda Mirage I owned when I lived in Germany.

What a stunning bike that was.

It had superbike acceleration. And the brakes of a supertanker.

Ah, the many many scares I gave myself on that monster.

I changed my route home from Ace Cafe; instead of hoofing it up the A40/M40/A40, I went cross-country.

The cross-country route was much more fun than travelling at *cough* 70mph with all the nutters on the motorway. And much prettier too.

The ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads were such fun; I do love the way the Bandit throws itself around twisty-turny lanes.

I got back home about 2.15pm and tucked straight in to work stuff.

Between 5pm – 7pm I took a break, tidied, put a load of washing in, put the rubbish out, drank tea, had a brief visit from a friend.

The usual.

And now, at rapidly approaching 9pm I’ve just sent my last work email of the day, and I’m winding up on my last work phone call of the day.

So all things considered, even with the work distractions, it has been a pretty good day really.

Olympic-sized fuck-ups?

I’m not, by nature, a naysayer, or a negative person.

But I’ve been enormously sceptical of the London Olympic 2012 concept, right from the time the Government told us that the budget, to host the Games, would be £2.9bn.

A few years down the line and the budget of £2.9bn has risen to a staggeringly awful projected cost of £9.3bn.

And still counting.

But it’s not the financial fuck-up alone that’s uppermost in my cynicism.

We have a propensity for making major fuck-ups.

A talent for fucking-up.

There have been – in addition to the budget fuck-up – quite a few already.

  • The Olympic Clock (that broke down three times within two weeks of being started)
  • Ticket system melt-down when punters tried to, erm, buy tickets
  • Corporate allocation of tickets over members of the public which will, I predict, lead to many empty seats at many venues
  • Transport fuck-ups in general and Zil lanes in particular
  • Security (or lack of, thanks to G4s – where thousands of servicemen/women had to be shipped back to the UK from operational units in Germany – many having annual leave cancelled – to plug the gap
  • Ridiculously over-zealous branding rules

So far it’s a short list, but it *will* get longer.

One doesn’t have to be clairvoyant to know that by the end of the closing ceremony, the litany of fuck-ups will be almost as long as the list of Gold Medals that China will be taking home.

In fact, the fuck-ups are continuing, even now, with the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics a mere 48 hours away.

This evening, at the football up at Hampden, the country of North Korea were expected to take the pitch under the flag of…

Wait for it…

 

 

 

 

South Korea.

 

 

Yep, you couldn’t make this up.

Well, you could, obv.

But no-one would believe it.

Would they?