Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Peace & Quiet

I did something I've never done before this morning. I woke up around 4am and was restless, my head spinning with a thousand thoughts. Suddenly the episode of Top Gear I watched yesterday popped into my head - Jeremy Clarkson had done a piece about how no-one just goes for a drive any more, so early in the morning he got up and hit the open road in a Mercedes.

Inspired by this I got out of bed and hit the open road on my ever so faithful Surly Cross-Check. It's been a long time since we rode together, too long. But no matter how long I leave her in the shed gathering dust, I can always rely on her for perfect gear changes and steady, reliable handling. So off we went into the damp, dull morning to do what was at one time a regular route, but is now almost forgotten.

There's a certain peacefulness at that time of the morning that I love but rarely get to experience, even missing out on it at 24 hour races this year. Yes I was at Twentyfour12 for a few days, but had to leave just after the race started on Saturday afternoon. It's around 2am at those events that the atmosphere shifts from an adrenaline pumped competition to a mellow camaraderie, every rider just trying to make it safely through the night into the dawn. For many it's also a unique experience, how many of your friends can you say you've sat drinking beer and eating bacon sandwiches with at 4am? How many of your friends have you seen sleep? It's not something that occurs in every day life and is actually a very personal and trusting moment.

Rolling almost effortless through the now familiar lanes, Surly was leading the way and my mind wandered back to the peacefulness of working night shifts at The London Studios. In a 22 story building bustling with thousands of people during the day it was rarely quiet - except during the early hours of the morning. I'd walk down the corridor to the restaurant on the 2nd floor that looked out over the South Bank of the River Thames; St. Paul's Cathedral and Blackfriars Bridge in the distance. For those of you that have ever watched the local London News it'll be a familiar view. London would be shrouded in serenity. I could stand for hours at that window in an oneiric state, looking out onto the world watching nothing go by. Once or twice I ventured down onto the stillness of the South Bank and just stood and watched and listened - I felt like I had the city to myself, I loved it. Too often I hear people say how much they hate London, when what they actually mean is they hate the people in London. Quiet and empty like that, London is simply breathtaking.

An hour later I was home, calm and peaceful. Last week was a strange week, but it seems so far away already. I think I might like bikes again...


simondbarnes said...

Yay, that sounds ace. I need to do something similar, have barely touched a bike for months.

Tony said...

baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarf :)