Cycling

Scottish Cycling Day 1: Reading To Euston Station, London

I thought that the cycle from Reading to London to catch my train from Euston station would be a bit of a formality. Anything but… I have now come to the conclusion that National Cycle Network route 4 or rather the bit between Windsor and Richmond Park, is entirely incompatible with stress-free cycling. I have now completed the journey four times over the last five or so years and on each occasion I have taken a wrong turning (or several) at one (or more) points between those two places. Today I took a wrong turning in Windsor and from thereon in it was a race against time wondering if the route that I had inadvertently created would indeed get me to Euston station in time for the 9:15pm train. The Sustrans map doesn’t make life easy as it is oriented in a vertical fashion. Who cycles and looks at a map as if they were reading a very tall, thin book? If you rotate the map (as I did today) all of the place names are at 90 degrees to where they should be. All very frustrating. Perhaps designing a cycle route through the suburbs of one of the world’s largest cities was never a great idea full stop. When Mother Nature ‘built’ the Thames she had nothing stopping her putting it where she liked so she chose a meandering path that no doubt looked very pretty at the time with no buildings in the way (it still does even though it’s now surrounded by modern development). Isambard Kingdom Brunel just built his railway to the west in a very long straight line ignoring most things that happened to be in his way and as a result it’s still a fast way to travel to the capital. The M4 doesn’t seem to have been built with too much concern for what used to be beneath the Tarmac. So why can’t we have a cycle route from the west to the centre of London that sticks two fingers up to what is currently stopping it from being as direct as is reasonable? There’s an argument worth debating. What we do have is a cycle route that has more twists and turns than your average Agatha Christie (more of her in a second, kind of…) novel. I think I’m now starting to calm down…
Cycling from Richmond to Euston was relatively sedate despite the early evening traffic chaos of the capital. I simply knew where I was going…
The highlight of the day must be this Scot Rail sleeper train to Inverness. Well, Perth. The line has been washed away north of Perth (I’m sure it’s just a few bits but lets not get facts in the way of a dramatic headline) so at 5:30am we will all be woken and put on a bus. I’m not sure how that will work with Reggie but if the level of customer service that I have so far experienced continues beyond 5:30am he will no doubt be given the five seats at the back of the coach all to himself. It’s not the smoothest of rides here on the train (why so fast?) but I’ve found my position in the buffet car and am imaging that I’m reliving Murder on the Orient Express. I’m expecting a snow drift – probably at some point north of Newcastle – after which we will all be summoned by a short man from Elgin (it’s nearly ‘Belgium’) with a moustache to be told that there have been dastardly goings on in the English Midlands. Unless of course it is me who is the victim in which case this may be the very last thing…. Ouch!

Categories: Cycling

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