If you live in the UK, next weekend is the best of the year. True we all lose an hour in bed, and have to live until October to get it back, but this time next week the sky will still be open at 19:30.
I usually celebrate the momentous day by riding the Start-of-Summertime a nice 200km out-and-home from the North East Hertfordshire new town of Stevenage to Lavenham in Suffolk.
Lavenham, once an important wool town, is now so rich on tourism it has a public toilet made of stainless steel, well worth cycling 100 kms to enjoy. I washed my face there a few years ago and emerged to find a couple of middle-aged, white blokes with beer-bellies liking the look of my parked-up Burrows funny bike. Which looked like this…
…only a bit battered.
Once I’d answered some of their technical questions we talked about travel. It turned out they’d also come from Stevenage, by road; and lived there.
“Stevenage will soon be very famous” one proudly told me.
I guessed they weren’t talking about the comprehensive network of cycle paths.
“Stevenage will soon be very famous, all over the World, because of Lewis Hamilton.”
At the time the brown lad with the Scottish family name was just drifting into the national consciousness. The boyish glee with which these geezers were enjoying the idea that such a prodigy could emerge from their home town was heart-warming. Perhaps one day Stevenage will be known as Hamiltongrad, Hamiltonville or just Hamilton, maybe it will have a Lewis Hamilton Boulevarde on which the speed limit is ‘minimum 190kph’?
I won’t be riding SoS this year. My pre-season has been next to nothing, so instead I’ll be grovelling out into West Herts to pick up some brake levers I left in a shed.
To avoid getting up too early(minus sixty minutes) I’ll try and combine my sneak into the mighty Chilterns with this one. See you there?
The first social ride in the modern era – perhaps the first ever – to highlight the problem of community severance out in the great doughnut of inaccessibility. I never dreamed such a thing could happen so soon. Roll on bicycle paradise. Too good to miss.
If you prefer the Start of Summertime you can set your alarm – as you subtract the hour – and jump an early morning train – full of wall-eyed night-clubbers – to Stevenage at Kings Cross or Finsbury Park.
They take entries on the line.
Any time you ride your bike, own the road, make it look easy, fun and aspirational, you’re taking important political action to preserve civilised human organisation. And don’t forget to check the stainless steel toilets in Lavenham, they really are of architectural interest.