In my post two weeks ago, I let you (the Cycling Inquisition reader), into my world, that of a fourth rate blogger who goes to races and hops fences to avoid having to enjoy the festivities with the hoi polloi. Today, I find myself back in the United States, and memories of seeing the Tour and hopping fences are but faint memories. Luckily, I was able to ride my bike and do other things during my trip, and while I'm far too lazy to write appropriate prose on the matter, I'm able to write a few almost-cohesive bullet points, so allow me to do so. In no particular order, here are a few observations of my stay in the UK, not unlike those I made some years ago when I was (pleasantly) trapped in London due to an Icelandic volcano overlord.
- London, I love you, you're great and all that, and I realize you being the way you are is what makes you great. But lord almighty, having a slight grid system to your streets would be really helpful when I ride my bike. Similarly, cycling announcers on TV talk about "road furniture" in the context of continental Europe, but I wonder if they're aware of the fact that London is more or less the aftermath of eight thousand Ikea delivery trucks dumping their contents on the roads for several decades. It's Billy bookcases and Malm beds for miles.
- Also London, why do things like this (image blow) exist in your streets? I'm certain that one of your citizens will tell me, but for the life of me, I fail to see why you are the only city in the world with pygmy streets that go nowhere.
- These gripes aside, London is very entertaining. Its citizens certainly are. Consider this man, who I saw three days in a row while riding my bike, always in the same spot, always doing more or less the same thing (semi-nude, urban Tai Chi I think), with only slight variations.
- If it's nudity you want to see while in the UK, I highly recommend going to the Rapha Cycle Club near Picadilly Circus. While the quantity and quality of the nudity afforded to visitors is not on par with that of the Standard Hotel in New York City, it's certainly memorable. Consider this guy in a building across the street, who I noticed while watching a bit of the Tour there. While I can't say for sure that he was having a bit of sexy time, it certainly looked that way. Either that, or he was naked and trying to move a couch that simply wouldn't budge for an epic amount of time.
If you can't see him, let me use the "enhance" feature in my computer to give you a closer look. Here he is.
But let me get back to addressing the city of London directly.
- London, towel warmers in your hotels make clean towels smell like naan from an Indian restaurant. I love you for this reason.
- London, you have solutions for problems I didn't even know existed.
- London, you have memorials on the trees where people who I forgot even existed died.
- London, where I live I've heard that people will scoff if you suggest an out-and-back cycling route, since big loops are always preferred, and "flow" must be optimal. But for your citizens, going around in circles in a park is not only OK, it's considered part of daily life (due to necessity). I know that people who live in New York City and other places do this sometimes, but your citizens have really made this into an art form, which is oddly admirable.
- London, I would never say that your citizens drive on the "wrong" side of the street. I'm not that dumb. I do, however, have trouble figuring out what side of the sidewalk, hallway, train platform, staircase or escalator I should be in. After several visits, I still assume that it should be the left (in keeping with driving convention), but it turns out that I'm always wrong, since the correct way to traverse changes faster than Cavendish leaves the Tour. London, please make up your mind.
If you want to impress your friends with knowledge about up and coming riders, and enjoy telling people that you knew about so-and-so years before they found out about them, pay attention to 4-72—Colombia. The team just won the overall at the Giro Valle d´Aosta in Italy with Bernardo Suaza, after having held the race lead with Diego Ochoa earlier. Keep an eye on Suaza, as a few European teams are likely doing so already. Remember that this is the team where Nairo Quintana, Sergio Henao, Jarlinson Pantano and Darwin Atapuma came up. Their batting average is ridiculous.
Sometimes I think I folklorize the fact that some Colombian cyclists have (or continue to) drink agaupanela and eat bocadillo during their rides. It's certainly true that the importance of these things was greatly overblown by the Colombian media in the 1980s, but the fact remains that nutrition bars and drinks remain pricy there, and many enjoy these flavors, which we Colombians have known since our youth. But take the image below as an example, and as proof that I'm not making this up. It was tweeted out by Victor Hugo Peña, with the following caption:
"Time for some Agapanela-torade and some native Colombian Powergel: bocadillo."