I bought that jacket after all - or rather, a short coat version of it, as light jackets are not really what's selling at the moment. I was glad of it, as I then wore it to cycle this. I'd been meaning to do this 100km since julietk had mentioned it a few months back. It's a lot further than I'd ever cycled in a day before, but it seemed both a plausible distance and a good locale: if anything mechanical went disastrously wrong, I could always just lock the bike to something and travel home by public transport. This was for various reasons the best weekend for it, so I emailed Juliet a while back and got a excellent word doc of proper directions ("SO through 2xT/L, 1st exit at MRBT" type of thing). Also, I cheated massively by starting from Twickenham on a Friday evening, cycling back in towards the Isle of Dogs, then fecking off home (just past the 21-mile marker) for eight hours sleep, and finishing the rest on Saturday.
I also bought a bike rack and mudguards on Friday, in the hope that they'd be of use on the journey - not so much on the dry but cold evening part, but if Saturday was wet then I'd like to not get too muddy, and if it was warm enough, it'd be nice to stash my bag and possibly the coat. Having never installed anything more complicated than a bell or a light on a bike, I was impressed that the bikes are so standardised that you can just ship the one set of screws with these accessories, and they will work on whatever bike is present. Unfortunately, that's about all that worked. Partly because I am a spanner and didn't have, er, a spanner to hand, or a set of Allen keys, but also partly because the mudguards just didn't seem suited to my Ridgeback. With the results that the first few miles involved a lot of adjusting the mudguards out of the way of the wheels by hand, finishing in a spectacular but invisible loss of one of the screws, and the back mudguard being left in an alley in Twickenham. Also the bike rack being kept on by tape.
I cheated from the start in fact - because I got a train into Twickenham instead of Fulwell, I decided to start from there (or rather the section of the route two minutes away) as opposed to going down the route and back again.
Twickenham: Cor, the mighty Thames is but a stream! Not really, but it was quite weedy by comparison with In Town.
Also in the first few miles, my only cropper, when I steer too close to a 3-foot brick wall, and some idiot impulse causes me to try and steady myself against it, at speed.
Most of the way home, singing "Non, je ne regrette rien", a song which it turns out I do not know the words to.
Turning onto a road in the Notting Hill/Kensington area and automatically identifying the only lit shop on the street as a corner shop, then realising that of course it was a Estate Agent, with prices that make the head hurt.
The first and only deviation: the pedestrian gates on to the Broad Walk are closed by the time I got there, so it's along Bayswater Road until I can get into the park.
I've never cycled around Wapping! That's because it's all cobbles! Fvcking cobbles!
The next park to be closed is the King Edward Memorial Park, down in Shadwell. Fortunately it re-opens at 8am, and is one of the nearest bits of the route to home, so I manage to make it back at midnight on the dot. Food, bed, up at 8, and then somehow two and a half hours of faffing. Including, in fairness, borrowing tools off shermarama to fix the front mudguard, and attach the bike rack properly. I'd also bought some kind of string vest bag of small bungie cords on Friday, so that I could affix things such as my bag to it, but I had left that in work. Fortunately November was more than willing to meet me halfway by never being warmer than 'quite cold' all day.
Around the Dome! It's smaller than you'd think.
The trail now follows the Thames Path, which cuts a path straight through all the dockside "We make stuff!" bits of East London.
And regularly bumps into the National Cycle Network's Cycle Route 4, which becomes a recurring theme, that CR4 pops up again when you least expect it. I hadn't realised the scope of the NCN, I really really love the idea that there's a well-signposted route from London over to Bristol! (and indeed with the 1, up to John O'Groats - and beyond!)
Deptford, the south bank, across the bridges and back in the way south from Westminster...
Amusing ways in which my brain is broken: at a particular low point (somewhere around Chelsea Harbour), I start to miss the calm greenness of Ashenvale Forest, from a game I haven't played in over a year.
Deer in Richmond Park! Which probably has it's own MP! Also the only even slightly uphill bit. I managed to arrive while there was still light, which had been a big goal, though by the time I made my way out it was already pretty dark.
And the strange thing is, despite this being the longest and second longest journeys I've ever tried, it wasn't even that difficult, to be honest. The last leg around Hampton Court Palace and Bushey Park was annoying, but more because it was dark, and my lights can tell which is path and not-path, but not which is good or bad path. Once back on the road for the last section, I was almost as sprightly as when I set off. In a way, I'd be interested in doing it all in the one day, particularly a day when there's a lot more light, but on the other hand, I can't entirely see the point beyond brute accomplishment - I'm really really not going to be someone who can do a proper 600km Audax.
Got back to Paget Close on the dot of 18.00, then uncheated and rode back to where I'd joined the course, which took about another 10-15 minutes. In total, somewhere between 10 and a half and 11 hours, which I'm quite happy with.
After I left work on Friday, I reckoned that I'd need some food, so picked up a Wholemeal Vegetable pastie from the West Cornish company at Waterloo. It served me well on the journey home, and the idea that I'd get one after taking the train back on Saturday evening was probably worth a few miles.
And after that, home on the tube. And then out again! Because not only was exliontamer DJing at Feeling Gloomy, but also Fullmooners' Moontacular was on over in the ghost theatre of Alexandra Palace at midnight! Which was a lot of fun, but took a couple of hours to come back from. So, bed at 5pm, then.
Sunday I felt shockingly fine in body. Well, that is to say that I wasn't achy at all, but I did feel quite lazy. Which might be something of an (entirely unearned! One pint of evil beer and one of evil cider!) hangover, a diagnosis that explains the headache that slowly but very firmly settled in about an hour after waking. I had nothing planned for the day except for turning up to friend_of_tofu's in Greenwich for 3.00, so after I became aware that it was 4.30 and my head wasn't getting any better, I rang to apologise, and I took the rest of the day off. Which was lovely, I haven't been able to just waste an entire day in some time, it felt like that luxurious stretch on a weekend morning when you turn turn over and go back to sleep, except all day.