Posted on Sunday 27 September 2009 by Martin Hayman
Sitting at screen on Friday afternoon. The sun is pouring in. “Hang deskwork!” say I, and cast down my mouse. Not even pausing to change, I grab the old Jack Taylor and head for the door..anything to be out in the glorious late-September sunshine.
Whither? Up the hill to Whitestone Pond. Bit of a push this, on the single speed. Hampstead Heath beckons, basking in golden light. Offroad it is then. I follow the old trail that I first beat on the Carlton track fixed, long ago. Caution on the dry dust and little pebbles that shed grip like a carpet of marbles. Up to Parliament Hill Fields, with its magnificent view clear across Central London to the North Downs beyond. I stretch out on the grass and it is so warm I doze off.
I slide off the hill and bomb down Kentish Town Road, through Camden Town and on to Regent’s Park Outer Circle, a familiar circuit. A hairy-legged ogre on a Giant comes past. I jump on his wheel and spook him for a lap. As I overtake, I am overtaken in turn by the gold-and-blue jersey of an Eagle RC. I hunker down on the bar extensions and chase. But I know this guy, and he is far too good for me, even if had my new bike and lycra instead of the 1953 Taylor and denim fatigues. I turn into the Inner Circle for a warm-down, then cross the Park on the Broad Walk, mixing with the pedestrians – it is legal now, though some scofflaws have always done it.
At exactly the appointed hour, I rendezvous with my wife at her school in Primrose Hill. Together we amble home through the back lanes of St John’s Wood.
It was the wrong bike for the hillclimb, the offroad, and the pursuit. But it was the perfect ride.