Friday, November 15, 2013

Cyclin' In The City

Living in London has really brought the term "running late" to life for me.
I am literally, constantly running late. Halfway jogging, power walking to yoga because I dilly dallied too much. Sprinting uphill to Nanny, because I missed the bus. Running as fast as I can home, because I'm hungry and want to cook dinner. I. am. always. running.
And I am so, so tired of it. I don't even run for my health. I run because, up until today, it is the fastest and cheapest way to get from point A to point B.
To all of you running lovers, I actually do enjoy running. It is very different, though, choosing a time in your day to run several miles enjoyably, vs running several times a day, in fear of being late, when you just really aren't in the mood but you HAVE to. Think of all of the places you go to in a day. The store. The bank. Work. The gym. Now, imagine that you don't have a car to take you there. Just having to go pick up some milk becomes a huge chore!
Yesterday, I had HAD it. I missed the bus I needed to take, and the next one would make me very late in picking up the kids I nanny from school. There's too much traffic for a taxi, and the tube would take too long, as the one by me doesn't connect anywhere near to where the school is. So, I had to run. And I had already worked out. And my butt was really sore. And I had already walked/ ran several miles already. And I just really wanted to sit my bum on a nice, warm, cushy seat...not run, uphill, in the bitingly cold wind, with a tired and sad bum.
So, I decided then and there, I am getting a bike. It's the only mode of transportation where I don't have to rely on someone else to take me, is quick, and is somewhat leisurely (compared to running). I found a used bike on Gumtree (our equivalent of Craig's List) that was supposedly 3 months old.
I had to meet the seller in Clapham, which is very south London, and then ride the bike back to North West London. This would be my first time to cycle in London, and I had to go clear across it. If you have ever cycled in a big city before, you know it is terrifying. Cars don't want to share the road, buses are riding on your ass, and the crowds of people are totally oblivious to you. Biking is a huge risk here...right now, people are furious because 5 cyclist have died in the past 9 days in London. But, I think if you are very defensive, don't take the busy roads, and of course wear a helmet, then you will be fine.
So, I get to Clapham. What was supposed to be a 40 minute bus ride was over an hour. I was running late so, of course, had to run from the bus stop to where I was meeting the seller. He ended up being an hour late...showed up with a tattooed neck, crazy eyes, and a bike that was definitely not 3 months old and I'm guessing was stolen.
I paid the £40, sent Daniel a reminder to donate my organs and cremate my body, and was off! First half was awesome. I "owned" aka passed up so many drivers that were stuck in traffic. I quickly picked up some confidence and speed. Then, I found myself on a really busy street and my GPS told me to turn right. I'm so not ready for right turns in London. I freaked, then proceeded to get myself so lost that a ride that was supposed to take 40 min took nearly 2 hours! Other cyclists were passing me up, giving me the stink eye, showing off with their fancy right turns. I'll be there, one day.
It's funny how quickly neighborhoods change. One moment, I was in an area where all street signs were in Arabic. Made a (left) turn and BOOM I was in my hood! Alive and with all limbs still intact!

One day I'll be able to take pictures while turning right on to the street, but for now this will have to do.
I look forward to more rides in the future, and less running!

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