Last weekend I did a Very Brave Thing. I set off cycling without planning a route, with only a destination in my mind: Romford.
Now, some of you may argue that this was foolish. Not planning a route?! But what if I had ended up on a motorway? What if I had got lost? What if… On Saturday all of these ‘what ifs’ went through my head, but I threw caution to the wind and set off to Romford on Gordon (the roadbike).
I’d just like to mention that I was cycling with my old housemate, and we both had fully charged iPhones with Google Maps at the ready, so actually, it was far less ‘Adventure’ than I’d have you believe. But still, it was one of the first times in my cycling life that I had set out on the road with just a vague direction in mind to head in (East, by the way).
I found the whole experience quite liberating. It was quite exciting just heading off in a general direction. The route took us a very pleasant way through Tottenham, past Lea Valley and up through Wanstead. We did end up cycling down the A12 for about 6 miles, however, despite the traffic and a rather passive aggressive driver who was on his mobile, that wasn’t too much of a problem.
We became a bit unstuck, however, when we had a quick look at the map back into London. We decided to head towards Stratford so we could cycle through the Olympic Park, but we didn’t factor in the traffic. With 15 miles of traffic lights that were certainly not in our favour, and a few confusing one way systems, my thighs were very ready for a restbite.
Cycling round the Olympic Park was great fun. Whilst we couldn’t find dedicated cycling paths, the paths around the park are very wide so pedestrians and cyclists could exist in perfect harmony. The dream. I haven;t visited the Olympic Park since the Olympics, and I felt a bit nostagic cycling through – we’ve done one thing right, and that’s really embrace the Olympic legacy.
Cycling back to Islington was a much more pleasant experience. We peddled down to Regents Canal and through Victoria Park, which was also fantastic in providing space for both cyclists and pedestrians.
Overall I really enjoyed setting out without a firm route, I found it fun along the way and it has made me more confident at trusting myself. This sort of preparation (i.e. none) wouldn’t work for me on my own, however, as I would be too worried about all the ‘what ifs’. But, it was good to try out with company and on a relatively short route that wasn’t *too far* away from home.
As for Romford? Well. Best leave that one there.