Things that happened today - rain
Friday 5th of January 2018
There was a storm last night. Wait, let me clarify that. There was a STORM last night. It was big. And after lightning that lit up rooms and thunder that shook walls the rain began. It hammered on rooftops and flooded streets. I fell asleep to it and woke up to it - a grey, sodden London.
For a very brief moment I considered getting the train to work. But I was glad I didn't.
Here's why. Believe it or not, one of the things that most gets in the way when cycling in London is other cyclists. Dedicated cycle lanes are great, but they clog up easily. I actually like it when it rains, because many cyclists would prefer to cram into a tube with fifty other people pressed up against them than get a bit wet. Fair weather cyclists, they're called.
Today's weather was so bad that pretty much everyone didn't cycle. I ride early, but there's still a large number of cyclists about at that time. Today, there were almost none. It was brilliant.
Actually, there's another reason I was glad I didn't get the train this morning. Two people in my office didn't get to work today until 12 midday. Okay, so that was due to some extreme flooding, but you never know what holdups you'll face on public transport. At least with a bike you can get off and push even if the road is closed.
All this wonderful cycling reminded me of the 2012 Olympics...
[cue flashback music]
Was it really five years ago?
Early 2012 was a worrying time if you were a London commuter. What effect would the Olympics have on travelling into the city? Would roads and trains become even more crowded? Proposed 'Olympic vehicle only lanes' on roads throughout the capital promised only a narrowing of routes already crammed with cars and buses.
Long story short, it wasn't as bad as feared. In fact, for the two weeks of the Olympics my journey to work was fantastic. My route at the time took me right through Parliament Square, up Whitehall and on to Oxford Street via Soho. Most traffic was restricted from using Whitehall, which meant not only was that street almost empty, but the route onwards from there was also quiet, starved from the usual traffic flow from the south.
The centre of London was also strangely quiet, in fact eerily so. The usual level of tourists and other pedestrians dropped from a raging torrent to a quiet trickle. With both the people and the cars reduced in such numbers, my early morning commute felt like cycling after the apolocalypse. It was the calmest and safest feeling two weeks of cycling in London that I've ever experienced.
Back to the future
Anyway, after all that, on the way home today it rained again and this time I got wet. Wet like take off all your clothes as soon as you get home, kind of wet. I can't remember ever cycling in rain like that before. It was so heavy I struggled to see through the water streaming down my face. I kept hitting potholes because I couldn't see the surface of the road for the water covering it. The road was even properly flooded at one point, and cycling through standing water is surprisingly hard work.
I have to say though, even after all that, I'd still prefer to cycle.
This article was originally written on the 23rd of June 2016, but I've only just got around to posting it. I remember it being extremely wet. The train delays due to flooding made the news, if you fancy looking it up.