I've been in favour of Australia becoming a republic for years and I feel that the royal family is irrelevant in Australia. Having said this, I have no actual hatred towards the royal family and I like watching what happens to cities when they are celebrating big events. Sydney changed its character considerably during the 2000 Olympics. People were nicer, friendlier and calmer. The city slowed down to watch what's going on. London was similar on the day of the Royal Wedding. The whole city stopped for a day.
So I began with a wander around Buckingham Palace, St James' Park and Westminster. I watched a couple of marching bands go past, got repeatedly stuck by road blockades and tube station closures, and eventually made it to Tyson's flat in Southwark before the whole show got on the road. I was very kindly invited to a bbq and throughly enjoyed an afternoon of good food, good conversation, and plenty of Pimms.
Though I am cycling around Oxford, I'm still a nervous rider and the prospect of cycling through London was a little terrifying. And yet when we hit early evening and it was suggested we go for a ride, I went along. I was lent a much nicer road bike than an amateur deserves and off we went to Waterloo Bridge.
Critical Mass is a cycling organisation that meets in most major cities once a month. The group embarks on a demonstration ride that takes over the streets, stops traffic, and generally pisses other road users off. I'm not sure that I'm ok with what they do. I understand that it sends an important message that cyclists are road users too and need to be treated with respect by drivers, and that a little bit of patience is a good thing, but I'm not sure that a monthly ride breaking all major road rules is the way to do it. Especially when there's clearly some people taking part who are there to antagonise the drivers and potentially get into a fight.
Having said that, cycling through London's major streets, surrounded by 300 other cyclists is a pretty good feeling. It's an extemely fun way to see the city. When else am I going to be able to safely ride down Oxford Street and Park Lane?
I would do it again in a heartbeat, but won't be taking a page out of Tyson's book and jumping in when cab drivers decide to try and pound the shit out of the kids blocking their car.
Photos are thanks to Tyson Sadlo