Day 10: Towards London

Once again the day started off earlier. I was told ideally I should leave before 7:30 to not make any agrievances. A caretaker came up and we had a good chat I was doing and just informed me of the route that lie ahead on the old London road.

Eventually I was on my way from Tring towards London although at a very slow pace. My knees were aching for some reason and were becoming noticeably painful. I couldn’t work out why, since it had been generally fine for such a long time. I decided to raise the seat up a bit, to try and see if it would help. Fortunately it seemed to be working although it took a while for the pain to dissipate.

I wasn’t in the greatest of moods that morning and morale was exceedingly low. I couldn’t work out why but it just felt like I wasn’t enjoying this trip at all. I kept going at slow pace despite the route going mostly downhill near Berkhamstead.

The morning was largely uneventful. The road wasn’t as flat as I thought it maybe. Eventually I was on the A41 – a dual carriage way. I had been this before and it looked vaguely familiar. Despite it being a dual carriage way, there was barely any traffic to be seen. However, it must have been an unusual sight for the drivers. The rain started once again which never helps in such times.

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Eventually I passed Watford and I came down a very steep hill with a gradient of 1:12. Just imagine all the weight coming down a hill, and you can imagine how fast I would be going – my speedometer clocked 28mph and I doubt that I would be able to stop quickly if needed.

The road into London was straight and dull. Much of the road was lined with restaurants from all nationalities, along with small ‘international’ markets that offered their various wares to cater for the particular community needs. There were many different languages on their signage. I guess that’s multi-cultural Britain nowadays. It’s something I’m not accustomed to.

The road eventually had a bus lane, which I stayed in almost exclusively. The traffic didn’t seem to have much of a problem with that but you always had to keep your wits about. Many cars would weave through, and pedestrians would aimlessly walk through as if they wanted to commit suicide.

I reached Westminster – or in particular Oxford Street. The rain was spluttering down and the streets were still busy with shoppers and tourists who hid underneath shop entrances or braved the conditions with their umbrellas. It was very unusual sight to see other pedicabs / rickshaws on the streets.

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The rickshaws themselves looked tacky and unsafe. I wouldn’t have wanted to be a passenger in one of those. The drivers wore shabby coats and used umbrellas for rain cover. The World Rickshaw Taxi had that high level of professionalism.

I sorted myself out and put on the rain cover and I headed towards Westminster. Suddenly I was hailed over and a guy wanted a lift down the street. It was the most unusual of timings, as I was meeting my cousing at Charing Cross.

It was his first time on one, but likened the idea of not getting wet. I said it was free and he couldn’t believe it. I was a bit annoyed that he spent his time on his phone and didn’t provide any conversation. I dropped him off and he said thanks and wished me well on my journey around the world.

I met up with my cousin Richard at Charing Cross, near Trafalgar Square. It was plesant to see him, and after a sip of coffee my spirit was already lifted substantially.

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It was nice that he would be able to offer me a place to stay and he even printed me directions to get there, although it was around 5-6 miles towards Greenwich.

I set off and by chance my friend James, who I lived with at University rang me and said had finished. He was just down the road near 10 Downing Street, so I’d meet him there. It was nice to meet him again. I think he was surprised at the rickshaw itself, but it was good to catch up with him. I took him for a little ride along the enbankment and dropped him off. I would catch him later on Friday.

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It was plesant to see the familiar and also new sights of London , but it was even more marvellous to go across the Tower Bridge – am I the first?

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I cycled on towards Greenwich. It wasn’t too bad despite the rush-hour traffic, however, I was most concerned about other cyclists other carelessly rushed through and overtook on both sides. I didn’t feel comfortable riding through because of that. One cyclist nearly splatted into the back of me, thinking he could undertake me. The mentality of rushing about it is an unplesant one. Unlike other cyclist meccas, such as Copenhagen, I would be reluctant to take my family on bicycles.

I reached Greenwich, very tired after a long day – having done a staggering 40 miles.

I think I agree with Boris Johnson on this. Rickshaw aren’t really meant for London – the roads cannot really handle them and I agree that some form of licensing and management is needed.