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Cart bike

June 20, 2016

Always make sure to double check what kind of bike shop you are renting bikes from. Or else this will happen.

IMG_5057

My ride for the day

Not the most graceful way to explore the city of London, but by time I got to the bike shop at 1 p.m. I had neither the time or inclination to find some other rental spot—I had to be at Hackney Wick at 5:20 p.m. to meet Jack, and when your data is nonexistent and cell service spotty at best, you don’t mess with being late to rendezvous. Especially not in a foreign country.

The cart bike wasn’t the worst way to get around. Once you pick up a little speed, the cart stops wobbling and starts gliding along—though it always feels a little like you’re just careening around with the thing in control of you rather than the other way around.

I never quite decided if I felt like I had TOURIST written on my back in big letters or if, on the contrary, the very fact of a cart bike made people think I must be some kind of local—so local I was transacting business via cart bike. I realized, though, that the large DSLR on my back and the regular snapshotting of blatantly touristy attractions made the first possibility more likely than not.

Hyde Park birds

Hyde Park birds

Still, a city ride is a city ride. I toured two parks—The Regent’s Park and Hyde Park, swung by Big Ben and Parliament, crossed the Thames and headed for the London Eye along the water. All lovely, and all in good time, until a patch of the riverfront opened up immediately into a crowd of tourists so thick you could cut it with a knife. And here I was, with a goddamned cart bike. I made few friends on that riverfront (though quite a few nicked ankles) and—because riverfront esplanades have a way of trying to get as close to the water as possible—I eventually discovered that I had no way to escape without resorting to stairs. Let me rephrase that: without lugging a 50 pound cart bike up two flights of stairs. Let’s just say I was a star curiosity for the tourists down nearby the Millennium Bridge for those five hellish minutes.

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