Well, I made it. In fact it wasn’t even that scary apart from the bit where I realised I was cycling along Green Lanes by mistake – but fortunately traffic was gridlocked enough that the only way I was likely to hurt myself was by hitting an unwary pedestrian. The main problem was my hopeless navigational skills. I had checked out a reasonable route on Cycle Streets (not the one that went up Highgate West Hill, thank you very much) and attempted to memorise it but the quiet route by definition took you down a patchwork of back streets and cut throughs which made it a bit difficult.
It started off fine – not only did I get to go up the famous Royal College Street upon which so much digital ink has been spilt – but Camden had helpfully included some directional signs which I only lost track of once. Royal College Street itself was certainly very pleasant to ride on; whether or not it’s Dutch or Danish, I couldn’t possibly comment but its main problem is that it’s just the one street. From there I rode along another segregated contraflow path which would have been lovely had it not had some road works in the middle of it and a traffic light at the end of it that refused to respond to my presence – I waited two full cycles of the light to be sure and then got off and proceeded as a pedestrian (I would like it noted that no red lights were run in the making of this blog, at least not by me – you’ll have to talk to the car drivers that shot through on ‘orange’ for at least a minute after the lights have changed about giving drivers a bad name yourselves). I then lost the signs, found them again, went up another segregated contraflow path with ANOTHER set of road works blocking it (I’m about 90% certain it wasn’t that I’d gone round in circles and gone up the same road twice) and another traffic light although this time by carefully placing the Brompton over the sensor I got it to change for me.
By this time I was feeling reasonably confident about the whole thing and looking forward to the rest of the ride. I was even beginning to feel that Boris’s ‘Quietways’ network wasn’t such a bad idea after all – but I hadn’t counted on the fact that I was about to leave Camden and enter Islington where the blue directional signs disappeared, along with all the nice cut throughs and contraflows and everything else and I ended up saying sod it and abandoning the back roads and just heading up Seven Sisters’ Road where you might have to play chicken with double-decker buses but at least you know where you’re going. After a very pleasant ride through Finsbury Park where there were suddenly billions of bicycles, including what looked like an accessible cycling session, it was back onto the roads and that’s where I found myself filtering through gridlocked cars on Green Lanes under the impression that I was one road over.
In all it took me about an hour and ten minutes to go eight(ish) miles, 20 minutes of which were spent looking for the right page on the A to Z.* I’m not sure I’d recommend my route to anyone and Lord knows what it would be like during rush hour, but it was certainly doable even for a scaredy on a Brompton. And that was the uphill direction.
Although I do want to know when London went all tropical. We’re in fleeces up in Scotland already and it’s shorts and t-shirt weather down here.
*Yes I do have a GPS, and your point is?