Thursday, 21 May 2009

Getting lost

Last night I cycled to Liverpool Street from Hammersmith and then from there to Paddington.

It was all very exciting. Especially because I got lost both ways.

After a beautiful ride past the Royal Albert Hall and tootling through St James' Park I suddenly realised I had no idea where I was. I headed in vaguely the right direction and got to my target of the Victoria Embankment before tootling up Bishopsgate. I tell you what though, going through a tunnel on your bike is no mean feat. It's noisy and frightening. There's a cacophony of different sounds bouncing off the walls into your ears meaning you have no idea where cars and bikes are in relation to your bike, it's eerily orange from the strip lighting and if a car edges too close you have nowhere to go. I think next time I'll come off the embankment before the tunnel.

On the way back I managed to miss the London Wall and ended up going past St Paul's, doubling back, taking an odd turn, going into Holborn and finally landed on Oxford Street, and I know the way from there.

In one way, getting lost on a bike is a bit rubbish, at one point I got off the road, fished my AtoZ out of my pannier and stood looking puzzled on the pavement before going forward but, actually, it's much less stressful than being in a car and being lost.

I've navigated for many people in cars as I don't drive and am quite good with maps and when you've taken a wrong turn it's a nightmare. You're hugely restricted by the road system and, unlike a bike, you can't pick up your car, wheel it across the road and double back on yourself. Nor can you enjoy the balmy spring evening while tootling about.

I never really get very scared when lost on a bike, I remain firm in the knowledge I'll find my way eventually and, as long as you carry a good map with you, you won't be lost for long.

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