Having arrived in a sweltering hot London at about 4pm on Thursday afternoon, first order of the day was to get back to the flat. The intention was to dump the bags and have a refreshing cup of tea before heading out on the bikes.
It didn’t quite work like that. First there was the fact that I had to walk past my new bike to get to the flat. Cue dropping of bags on the pavement and much cooing over my new wheels. This lasted approximately 3 minutes until I realised just how hot it was in the blazing sun and headed in for cover.
We had a cup of tea and then discussed just what we wanted to do regarding riding that evening. Rush hour was to be avoided at all costs and this would also bring the bonus of cooler evening temperatures. We headed out about 7pm for my first ride in London traffic.
How thankful I am that we waited.
Who knew that you don’t ever get clear roads? Getting out of the flats was my first experience of having to pull out in a gap in traffic, at home you just wait a few seconds and there are clear roads.
Having eventually managed to get out onto the street, there was another junction. I stalled the bike and managed to re start it quite quickly. Out on to the street and I was doing well for at least 50 yards when we got to the traffic lights. Another stall and some kangaroo petrol over the junction.
On to the next street where I met my first traffic calming bumps in the middle of the road, then another set of traffic lights, a zebra crossing and another junction all in the space of a hundred yards.
Every time I tried to build up a bit of speed I had to brake for pedestrians, speed bumps, lights, cars pulling out etc etc. I have never changed gears so often in such a short distance, this was a whole new style of riding.
There are bus lanes, some of which you can ride a motorbike in, some of which you can’t. Those yellow hatched boxes in the middle of the road get you fined if you stop in them for the wrong reason. There are loads of buses, double decker buses which make you feel very small on a 125cc bike and no one gives way or leaves spaces.
We were out for about 30 mins in total and it felt like hours. My hands ached, my shoulders were solid, and my legs were jelly by the time I got off the bike.
In London however, the ride doesn’t finish when you get off the bike. You have to put on the disc lock, the steering lock and then get this huge chain and put it through your back wheel and chain it to a thing in the ground.
By the time I got back to the flat, I was exhausted but exhilarated. I had done it. I had done my first motorbike ride in London and was still in one piece.