For those of you who don’t know: London is a city very much West of Tokyo and a little bit North of Tokyo. It is not as hilly as the mountains west of Tokyo, but very much more than everything in the North, South, East and West of Bremen. That’s why it was chosen to become the first training camp of PEEK (Positivo Espresso European Klub) this year.I spend the day before the trip to London in Darmstadt („Bowel City„) in the district Wixhausen („Wankers Town„) attending a scientific symposium of the Logistics community in Ge many. I am not sure weather all readers of this cycling blog are interested in this specific topic, but in good faith I would like to summarize the main conclusions of the congress, which I have gathered after hours and hours of intensive attendance in dark rooms:
David and Juliane don’t live in Carnaby Street but on the other side of the river Thames, opposite a very big building called Parliament. And also close to Waterloo Station, which is the place where Napoleon’s train never arrived at.The PEEK HQ building is really nice and I especially liked the view between the building and the adjacent railway bridge, clad in red bricks. Juliane and David were perfect hosts and even provided me with a very nice bike: A titanium frame Airbourne (Manhattan Project) with a long history. The frame is trippled butted in most of the places and triple triple butted at the bottom bracket. And, in case you haven’t figured in out yet, it once belonged to the bicycle collection of David. Not even the soccer cup game between England and Algeria could prevent us now from riding out!So we set off to the countryside, where we made a nice pre-tour ride for the main ride the following day which consisted of a serious of increasing challenging climbs in short sequence. For some reasons Juliane and David still have the prejudice, that I am a strong rider, although all my hill climbing abilities have been drained out due to environment in Bremen since seven weeks. Box hill, for example is a very nice climb which might be just a little bit more challenging than Jerome’s hill, but nevertheless was quite exhausting. The highest hill in the area is Leith hill, which we conquered as well, before we made a break at a local teas shop, ate some flap jacks and drank some black tea. Quite civilized riding, I would reckon.
There is also a nice and cool place called Coldlake where we took a break at the burial ground. Overall, one has to keep one’s eyes open. As riding in the English countryside is riding along hedges on both sides of the road and there is hardly anything to see at all. So you have to wait for the gap in the hedges and then look fast.First I was surprised, when I saw no new houses in the countryside. I assumed then, that like the „Chiho“ in Japan, the rural areas of the UK are slowly depopulated and that the folks are moving into the city or to retirement homes. But then Juliane and David explained, that most of the houses are actually brand new. As the local parish council controls the building permits, new buildings are only approved if they match in style and color the existing structures. So, after erecting new houses, special finishing works are being required, applying large quantities of mold, slime, grime and unstable chemical compositions to walls and roofs so that the structure matches that of the adjacent ones.
It was a nice ride and at the end we were quite exhausted. During four hours I did probably much more elevation meters as compared to riding seven weeks in Bremen. So we took the train back to town, had a good dinner at the PEEK HQ and shared some nostalgic conversation about our mutual time in Japan. Our thoughts where with Froggy, David, Shuhei, Shindo, Kurata, Malcolm, Graham, Peter and all the other riders we have met and had fun with … Paul Jason.The next morning we made our way early to Waterloo station as we had a major tour in mind. Because the royal meeting was conducted at Ascot the same day, there were many men and women with funny heads at the station. Non-suspecting tourists arriving in London that day might get a complete wrong idea about how people in the UK dress today.
We rode out to Guildford, famous not only because of the Stranglers, but also it is the claimed home of Ford Prefect from the first part of the trilogy „Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“. Again, a lot of climbing was involved riding along hedges and catching a glimpse from time to time of the original landscape. Juliane pointed out the trees, scrubs, bushes, flowers, pest plants, insects, amoebae, virus etc. of the local environment while David try to lead us on beautiful country roads to the restaurant where we were suppose to have lunch with his parents. Well this was our main tour, but after having spend all energy already on the day before, we took it quite easy.
After passing Petersfield and coming to the town of BURITON (which I assume is the Katakana version of BRITAIN), we descended a small hill. David was in front and I was perhaps 20 meters behind him. There was a speed hump in the road which looked rather silly and I rode over it with perhaps 40 km/hr. The next things I heard was the sound of an exploding tube and the next thing I saw when dismounting from the bike was a flat rear wheel with a broken spoke, a pinched tire and an untrue wheel. Bad luck. At least we were able to repair it somehow so that I could continue to ride, but we decided to cancel the lunch, ride back to Petersfield, have a cup of tea and ride back by train to London. This was the first bicycle I destroyed that day.
Back in London, Juliane and David were so kind to show me around the city. We took are town bikes (less expensive, a Trek MTB for me) slang heavy bike logs around our waists and made way for the Parliament bridge. Buckingham Place. On the way to the place, the streets were flagged with French and British flags, it seems that the chief froggy and his wife were in town. Many war memorials are dispersed around the city centre. Many of them are connected to Germany. „To the Royal Engineers who have given their life during the great war 1914 – 1919“. Were where they fighting in 1919, when we Germans have dutifully surrendered already in November 1918? Didn’t they noticed that?
And then finally: Carnaby Street, the hot bed of Swinging London. So where is the Mary Quant shop? Where can I buy Twiggies trousers? Get a new haircut? Drink a beer at the pub that was named in honor of Jerome? Ah, here it is.We had some more beers at another place, then headed out to East London to have a typical British Dinner (Tiki Masala) at the Lahore Khebab Place. There we saw also some more WC games and finally we headed back to PEEK HQ.
It has been a successful weekend and all of us have trained hard for the forthcoming Transalp race (2011 that is). The next day I took my plane back to Bremen (this time through Frankfurt) and did the one thing I did rarely in London: sleeping.Thanks David. Thanks Juliane.