Sunday 14 December 2014

LBC Ride: Christmas Sights Allnighter 12 Dec 2014

Madness!  Midnight madness! Why would anyone in their right mind cycle at midnight at near zero degree temperature?

Twenty three fifty five (23:55) at Charing Cross Station is our meeting time and place for this London Brompton Club (LBC) ride.  I signed up at the last minute because I could not really make up my mind if I will be joining or staying home, warm and comfortable.  The near zero temperature outside and the thought of all night without a sleep is not really helping.  It reminds me of my teen years when I don't go out for the night any earlier than 11pm.

Christmas light and more lights - London Eye
But Zoomzoom has been pestering me all week to click the "join" button because he knows that once I committed myself not even the end of the world would prevent me from going. Zoomzoom will go anywhere and anytime.  I have to control him.

Curiosity finally made me click the button at the last minute.  I have heard of few riders doing this crazy night rides and the "why" question remains in my mind.  There must be something to it. Besides the thought of cycling without the peril of harsh sunshine appeals to me greatly.  I hate the sun.  I was born and I lived in places where it is sunny all year round and I'm over it.  To me anything cold is a luxury.

Getting ready to explore the city by night
However, the forecast for the night is very cold.  It would be zero degree. This is my first night ride and I have no ideal how it will going to be.  I have also no idea on what to wear.  I put my base layers on and my bib shorts over.  It looks okay and it actually feels warm and comfortable and it highlighted a bulge.  But unfortunately the bulge is in a wrong place.  The bulge is way above the belt, not under.  Not a pretty sight I am afraid to admit.

I decided against the bib shorts and just as well because when I saw the group, they were properly attired.  James Houston, an LBC celebrity, was wearing a tweed suit with matching deerstalker.  He looked stunning.  Because I have not met him before I thought I would be pushing my luck too far if I ask permission to take a photo of him.  In hindsight, I should have asked, because toward the later part of the ride I found him to be approachable, friendly and helpful. Graham Park, another LBC star, arrived in penquin overall. 

Graham Park
Mr Orange Brompton, a well respected name in LBC and beyond, was in his usual faultless and impeccable attire.  He was wearing a full reflector Provis 360 tops against black shorts over black tights and an orange overshoes matching his orange helmet.  It is a delightful understated elegance.  To me, he is the epitome of cycling fashion.  He is my idol not only because of his sense of fashion but also because of his amazing and world famous blog.
Mr Orange Brompton - the epitome of cycling fashion

No, it was not a costume party but can you imagine me arriving on my bib shorts with a bulge in a wrong place? I'll be disowned by the group and kicked out instantly.

Immediately I replied to Sleebus' posting on Facebook that I would join him from Waterloo Station and together we will cycle to our group's meeting place which is just a small loop away via Waterloo Bridge.  I have not met Sleebus before. He is one of those celebrated member of the club.  He knows many things that would make a Brompton bike bling, go fast and furious.  He is a very pleasant guy and I enjoyed his company. I am looking forward to doing more rides with him.

There were few members already waiting and chatting when we arrived at Charing Cross Station.  Zoomzoom is very happy for he realized that he will be rubbing shoulders with the big names in LBC.  Zoomzoom is a "trying hard" socialite. He wants to be in the company of famous people. 

In no time we were out on the streets of central London, cycling.  It is surprising that the place is still bustling with people at midnight.  Soon we found ourselves cycling along the banks of the river Thames staring at the amazing skyline of London with the Parliament Building , Westmister Bridge and London Eye to name a few landmarks.  I have seen this views many times over and I will never get tired of looking at them. But this particular night, it was really  a stunning picture.
Mesmerizing lights

We zoom zoomed along every street in the city, lavishly accented with Christmas lights.  The creativity and the artistic imagination of those people who decorated the streets are beyond equal. Londoners have a very good reason to be proud.  It is a beautiful place, more specially so during this time of the year.

I was like a two year old let loose in the fantasy land.  Mesmerized, stunned, and fascinated by those Christmas lights of all shapes, sizes, colours and brightness.  It was a like a beautiful constellation softly illuminating the whole and every corner of the city.  Those lights were like fire flies.  So attracted I was, that at one point I found myself suddenly separated from the group.  Thank goodness for an iPhone. Soon I was able to rejoin. 

graffiti - diverse arts in London
We went past some elegant roads, expensive looking modern buildings, historic arcades, graffiti painted lanes, iconic boulevards and beautiful bridges.   We were like Peter Pan, flying about along Regent Street, Oxford Street, Bond Street, Covent Garden - you name the place we were there.  We we chasing, overtaking, racing each other or simply slowly pedaling around.  We were like chicks let loose in the meadow going in every direction but staying together.  It was fantastic.  It was unbelievable. It was magic.  It was like a dream.
Zoomzoom posing for photo. 

Until I noticed that I could not cycle anymore.  Without even knowing Zoomzoom succumbed to a flat tire.  Oh no. Not now.  Zoomzoom and I are having a great time.  We were over the moon.  This time is not convenient for a flat tyre.  We pulled ourselves together and were ready to say goodbye to the group.  Time to catch the train and go home.

But no.  The whole group came to our rescue.  David Parkinson and James Houston and the rest of the gang got their hands dirty and fixed Zoomzoom in no time. It was like a scene in Formula One during a pitt stop.   While Zoomzoom is loving all the attention, I felt so embarrashed.  Not only because I know we are delaying the group but because it exposed the height of my irresponsibility.  I could have at least brought my tools and a spare tube.

Soon we were back on the road pedalling.  Within 3 seconds, I have forgotten all about the  flat tyre disruption and I was back again in the dream land.  Zooming in this wonderful city. We continued our merry way. 
Glorious lights and more lights

The night just went so quickly.  I can't believe we were together for about 8 hours.  It was almost 7 in the morning and getting colder and everyone seems to be ready for a hot drink.  We found a coffee shop at Covent Garden where we gently retired for hot cup of coffee.  This was  our last stop.  We said our goodbyes.

This has been a fantastic and amazing ride.  It is beyond compare.  It is indescribable. I really enjoyed it. I will never forget this ride.  My first night ride. My first puncture. My first near zero temperature ride.  What a night !  What a ride!

Thank you to our host Anne Marshall and David Parkinson.  LBC will never be the same without you.  Thank you to everyone.  I can never thank you enough.

Yes,  It was a midnight madness and it was wonderful to be mad.