I’ve moved from Düsseldorf in Germany to London in October 2009. One of the things I’m missing most are my after-work rides on the bicycle. In the center Düsseldorf – a city which is normally not known for its cycling credentials – it was fairly easy to do a 15 or 20 miles bike ride without almost any car traffic. All you had to do was getting to the river Rhine.
Last night, finally, the first Friday Night Ride to the Coast was taking place. For me, it all had started rather awkwardly.
On Wednesday, I realised that I really do need a new handlebar for the Grasshopper. Thanks to frequent tumbles when I was learning how to ride a recumbent the handlebar got a little bit twisted. I probably could use it for another 10 years, but I don’t take any chances with regard to such vital parts. Alright, I’d always fantasised about doing a night ride on the Brompton. Well, here you go.
The second issue was due to a guy I got to know on the German Brompton forum. He got in touch with me and told me that he was going to be in London in March. I touted the FNRttC and the joys of night riding and, rather unsurprisingly, he got interested. We were supposed to meet prior to the ride at 10 pm at pub close to Hyde Park Corner. Well. I was there. He wasn’t. At 9.45 pm he sent me a text that he was running late. When the pub was closing at 11pm I still was on my own. I can thoroughly assure you: There are things more funny than sitting in a London pup on a Friday night, fully dressed in Lycra and sipping on your sparkling water. (Of course, stuff happens but the guy only halfheartedly murmured an unconvincing apology.)
[Question to my English friends: What would you have been done in that situation? At 10.55pm I texted him: “The pub is going to close at 11pm. You guys are clowns. See you at HPC”. Would you consider this rude?]
But anyway. When I got to Hyde Park Corner and had chatted with some so the usual suspects this was quickly forgotten.
Apart from the shaky start the ride was utterly brilliant. I was absolutely delighted and amazed that Andy, a recumbent rider who introduced me to the FNRttC, was on the ride. He’d got clipped by a van recently and suffered quite severe leg injuries. He has been (and will be) the only one in the history of mankind who did a FNRttC with having a crutch mounted to his bike. Absolutely outstanding!)
My German friends frequently ask me how I like living in London. My answers are highly dependent on my current mood and my recent experiences. One thing is for sure: In certain respects it’s definitely better to be a tourist in London than an inhabitant.
However, even when I’m completely fed up, there is one thing I always praise. It’s the FNRttC.
The “Friday Night Ride to the Coast”. That`s probably one of the weirdest bike rides in the world. And most definitely one of the greatest.
Between March and November, on a Friday night, once a month a group of cyclists meet at Hyde Park Corner at midnight and ride to the coast. (Technically, the ride should be labeled “Saturday Morning right to the Coast” because it starts on Friday, 12pm.)
Today (March 18th, 2011), the night riding season finally starts again . Around 11.30pm, more than 100 cyclists will meet at Hyde Park Corner. At 12pm sharp the group is going to leave – we’ll be heading towards Southend on Sea (around 55 miles). Southend is the shortest and most easiest ride but perfect for this time of the year.
I’ve been looking forward to this for several months.