May 2020

2 First person reports:

I arrived at 6pm, and saw various cyclists around (most of them passers-by and pretty obviously nothing to do with CM). After a while, a woman who was already there – seeing me hanging around – identified herself as a CMer. And then there were two!

Various others drifted along and made themselves known – including one suspicious youngish bloke who (in other circumstances) I’d have taken as a police plant. Suspicious youngish – though allegedly keen first-timer – bloke got bored and went off. At 6.30, there was a suggestion that we should move off; but some resistance, to give time for others to arrive. Only one other person did, until very close to 7 when a couple of guys with a sound system arrived. A further attempt was made to leave, but sound system guys wanted to catch their breath.

We eventually left pretty soon after 7pm. Not good – compared to olden days – but an advance on recent years. Maybe the post-COVID re-boot will be a positive one for London CM??

We were, I counted, 16 people. Not great for the time of year, but at least more than the only-just-existing March and April rides; and – given the weirdness of some notorious website purporting to have some relationship to the ride – not bad considering.

We moved very very slowly, even for the mass, partly because one participant had a cargo bike the size of a tank. She sat at the back looking over a contraption which was big enough to hold half a dozen toddlers with ease, or a month’s shopping for a large family. Or – as it turned out – her youngster _and_ his own not-so-small bike.

Anyway, we crawled over Waterloo Bridge, and turned left along Strand.
Someone remembered there was a new bike lane allegedly being installed in Park Lane, and there was a move to celebrate it.

After Trafalgar Square, we went along the Mall to Buck Palace, then – without such a long cavorting there as has been a bit traditional in recent years – went up Constitution Hill to Hyde Park Corner. After Wellington Arch and a bit of confusion in the corner of the park, we ended up on the new bike lane, which was more or less fully usable (even if not perfectly formed). There are places where there’s a wide, two-way bike lane, physically fenced off from the traffic, then a lane (or even two) for buses and taxis, and then one little lane for the poor motorists. If only all roads were like that.

After feeling celebratory at Marble Arch, the consensus(ish) was to head east along Oxford Street, though some of course thought it silly to go on a road which was mostly without cars. But then, there were only a few of us…

So, east it was, with us all holding together fairly well. By the time we got up to Tottenham Court Road and New Oxford Street, it turned out that we’d been on the go for virtually an hour. (Which shows how slow we were…) At that stage, a few people needed to head off – quite a distance in some cases – in various directions. (I think some people hadn’t mentally allocated a whole evening for it, on the basis that they’d been unsure about whether it was even happening.)

So it kind of fragmented then.

I started riding with CM in London 16 years ago but I rarely attend now.  I thought about it but decided against for several reasons, not least because I didn’t want to take the train and wasn’t up for a 40 mile round trip by bike.

Even if it wasn’t being enforced I would be avoiding crowds anyway, but I was also thinking that if any significant number of people turned up the police might attempt to disperse them and maybe get heavy with fines. Also I was aware of the potential for negative publicity (bloody cyclists putting us all in danger).

However, I am glad that at least one person did show up and go for a ride.
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