Which ****ing team do you support?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I now own a Thorn Raven bike. I’ve started getting out and about on it, and exploring some of London’s cycle network. The UK has a pretty extensive national network, created by Sustrans – some 10,000 miles or so. London also has many local bike routes marked out. The national ones tend to be more protected, with plenty of off-road (paved) sections, whereas the local ones may have a small lane at the side of the road.

The local ones are extensive though, and are handy for riding around, mainly for helping you not get too lost. I’ve ordered a few free maps of the local ones, to try and work out some nice rides around the magnificent borough of Croydon. The problem I’m having with riding around here is that it’s all pretty flat, and if you go off the main roads, it’s pretty easy to get lost, since there’s so many meandering little streets.

But anyway, last Saturday I decided to ride up the Waterlink Way, from Croydon up to Greenwich. A very nice Saturday morning ride it was too, perfect weather, and much of the ride off road, or at least on very quiet roads. All flat too, which is good for the distances/average speeds, but perhaps not so good for the fitness. It was nice to be able to go out, ride 50km, have time to get home and shower, eat, then make it to the rugby. Most other people there watching the rugby had probably only just gotten out of bed.

I was riding through a small park, when a young guy approached me. He wanted to know if I’d seen any Millwall football fans. I said no I hadn’t, why was he looking for them “Because we’re gonna ****ing do ’em.” I told him that I thought that was a bit harsh, and asked why. He seemed not to comprehend the ‘why’ part. “We’re just gonna ****ing do ’em.” Then he started wondering about me – “What team do you support?” I told him I was a New Zealander and didn’t follow anyone (or for that matter, care or understand). Having established I was definitely not a Millwall supporter, he was quite pleasant to me. It was interesting that we were casually discussing causing grievous bodily harm to other people, but I never felt threatened personally. I told him I thought it he would be better off enjoying the nice weather, and just having a good time with his mates, but he was still pretty keen to find the other team’s supporters. With that, we shook hands, and he went back to drinking with his mates in the park. It was 9:00am. Long day coming up I guess. And it was Stella they were drinking, which sums it up really.

Semi-related to that, I haven’t quite worked it out, but people seem to find you a lot less threatening when you’re on a bike. I was on the train with my bike, and got talking to a couple of guys on there way home from work. Within a few minutes, one of them was telling me his life story, and how much he regretted having never been able to take off and travel the world, etc…. Now this might not be all that big a deal, but for those of you who know London public transport, you will understand how rare it is to speak to other people on public transport. To many, speaking to them is tantamount to physical assault. It’s amazing how close you can be to other people without making eye contact.

But anyway, the plan is to ride to Brighton this weekend, then get the train back. Living in East Croydon makes that pretty straightforward – just follow the main road down, then the train will bring me right back to here, no problems at all. Distance-wise, it’s going to be a bit of a challenge, considering where I’m at right now with my bike fitness, but I figure that if I set out early, and take it easy, I’ll be fine. I can always stop for refreshments. Plus, if I’m going south, it’s downhill, right?