Monday, 22 June 2009

Bristol's Biggest Bike Ride

Sunday was Bristol's Biggest Bike Ride, and it's become something of a tradition for Katie and me; we've been doing it ever since she was riding behind me on a trailer bike. So we joined in yet again, riding the Avon Loop, which goes down the Portway, the main road down the Avon Gorge, closed to other traffic for the day so that it is unusually peaceful- just the ticking of bicycle gears and the occasional tinkling of bells; then over the Avonmouth motorway bridge, and back up the cycle path along the bank of the Avon, and so to the city centre again.

As you can see from this picture of a bottleneck at Pill, a small port on the Somerset bank, there were thousands of people. There was also a pub open next to this patch of green, and our friends Mal and Adrian. So we stopped for lunch. The Sally Army came along and started playing, so Mal and I joined in with the singing. I was fortunate, though I didn't think so at the time, in that my school had dumped their old A&M style hymn book and replaced them with a 'happy clappy' one in 1971; we were very 'with it' in the Valleys; and so I knew the words to Give me joy in my heart, make me happy, though in my head I still hear it in a Valleys accent.... sing 'osannah, sing 'osannah, sing 'osannah to the king of kings....

Katie looked as though she wished that the ground would swallow her up...

Well, it was good being part of a little 'world turned upside down' event, especially seeing an apoplectic motorist in a Big Car trying to force his way against the flow of thousands of bicycles, presumably to prove a point, while shaking his head in theatrical disbelief- "I'm a motorist, so I take precedence". Duh. But I'm not entirely sure that cycling is as morally-improving as I might have hoped; there was some quite selfish riding (stupid overtaking and cutting-in) going on. It wasn't supposed to be a race, dumbfucks.

Home again, achy and tired. I think it was the constant stopping and starting and dodging other people that was the tiring part. We don't usually do group things. Not sure I want to again. I'm pining for the mountains...


  1. I'm just frustrated with someone throwing a guitar on the ground like that...

  2. I didn't notice the guitar until Nicky pointed it out - I expect, as it's a Salvation Army one, God is looking after it.

    It's great there were so many people. La Rochelle is famous for its yellow hire bikes. Now relaunched as Yélo there are even more of them.

    People forget how dangerous a bike can be. My brother was once engaged to a girl who was orphaned when some children in bikes knocked her mum over.

    There is always a very important person in a car. When one of the roads in the village was first closed off for bikes and pedestrians a very smart lady in a very smart car knocked over the barriers and drove through. I signaled to her in sign language that it was a 'no, no' and she gesticulated in a very impolite way and raced off. The gendarmes were waiting at the other end, she didn't give me the chance to explain, silly woman.

  3. *picks up guitar*

    anyone know the words to Kumbaya?


    it was the obvious attitude of this chap thst was so funny, Anji; his one self in his car having precendence over a solid block of thousands of cyclists. Some attitudes are dangerously deep-grained. This is the sort of stuff we get in Bristol...

  4. That was frightening. I wouldn't like to go on a busy road on a bike. Rob loves to come home telling me tales of how he nearly met his end on the way home. A lot of people here have an orange arm thing that sticks out of their bike so that cars won't get too close. When I drive past a cyclist I double check in my mirror to make sure they are still upright.

    I don't like driving much either, unless I know exactly where I'm going.