My Sunday church routine of choice is to get up about 8 a.m., saddle up and head down the 8 mile stretch to Westminster Cathedral, which is terribly magnificent and impressive and, I think, much easier to be pious in.
It’s worth the 16 mile round trip, compared to the parochial suburban church which is across the road.
So I set off last Sunday morning on a road blissfully low in traffic volume, and moseyed down through the East End and over to Tower Hill. Where I encountered a Road Closed sign. Not overly put off, seeing a lot of racing crowd control barriers up, I pedalled over, round the barrier and pootled off down what was an apparently closed road. There were stewards in orange coats every 400 m or so, but no one said anything, so I zoomed along undisturbed (seriously, I saw one other bike) all the way to Westminster, past Big Ben; a little curb negotiation was required to wheedle my way out of the road closure, and off I went down past Westminster Abbey and down Victoria St to the Cathedral.
Having done my silly dance outside the Cathedral to get from my cycling shorts into my jeans without flashing all of central London, sat through Mass, lit candles for my grandparents at St. Patrick’s chapel (both were descended from solid Irish blood), done the silly dance again to get back into the cycle kit and pottered back up to the Abbey, I saw a decent crowd outside the gates of the Abbey and minibus after minibus discharging uniformed seniors at the entrance to the Abbey. Turns out it was the service of Thanksgiving and Rededication on Battle of Britain Sunday.
A nice steward was quite willing to let me back onto the race course with the promise that I would be off it by 10.30, and off I went again. It’s remarkable how fast you can go when there are no cars, no traffic lights and no pedestrians in your way. I saw a few serious riders out, one with one of those filled-in, solid back wheels.
I got home and discovered that the roads had been cleared for Stage 8 of the Tour of Britain.
All I can say is thanks for emptying the roads for me!