I was really looking forward to the London Calling project and hanging out with the WeThePeople team. I know most of them fairly well already so we could just crack on and get stuck into having a good time, riding our bikes and capturing some good photos and footage along the way.
The plan was, like every other team, to hit up as many spots as we could and really try to get as far and wide around London as possible. We had a secret plan though, we brought professional ramp builder George Eccleston along with us to try and make the non-rideable spots rideable. You know when you roll down the street, see a spot and think to yourself “ah man, I wish that curb wasn’t right in the way” or “if only I had a kicker to make it up onto that ledge to gap over that wall” well that was the plan for us. Although things don’t always go to plan as we were unfortunately to find out.
We happened to be the second team in the month of September to stay in what was the Ride UK Magazine apartment in the EC1 area of The Big Smoke. With BSD being the first team in and having a week of glorious sunshine, we were next and hoping for the very same weather. It was very different for us. And when I say different, I mean it was very, very wet.
There literally wasn’t a day that went past where it didn’t rain at some point, and in most cases it rained for at least half the day.
The next few paragraphs are a recollection of what I can remember from the week apart from being constantly and consistently soaked or alternatively telling you all who done what at what spot, because everyone knows that’s pretty boring for me and you.
We’re on a boat Mother F@*ker
The first day we arrived it was absolutely heaving it down all day, I got to the flat first and made it my duty to test the Wifi out via a hand shandy. Afterwards I made the most of the food that BSD had left in the fridge and cupboards too, to say I was living like a king would be an over exaggeration, but I was happy to say the least. I think the downpour may have turned into drizzle for about an hour just before the rest of the team showed up but it got back on with the cats and dogs shortly after.
Once the whole team arrived we tried to make a plan for the rest of the week and the rest of that day. But what are a bunch of lads gonna do when they’re all stuck in the house with nothing to do? Get drunk, that’s right. Off to see what the local was like then.
After a couple of (expensive) pints we made our way to the Sainsbury’s on the corner for more booze and food, not a bad start to the day and the cookies were reduced to 50p too… Cash back!
I’m not sure what time it was but most of us were pretty drunk by the late afternoon/early evening, myself and Jason decided it would be a good idea to sleep rough for the night. I know it sounds kinda stupid but what else are you gonna do anyway, watch the X Factor or something? No way!
We’ve talked about doing it since the 2012 RTG where there was a ‘sleep outdoors’ challenge for the photographer in the challenge book. Jason, Maxime and myself were going to do it in Dublin but due to the bad weather (again) and hope of riding the next day, it never happened. Until now, a year and a half later in London.
We left the house and bought more booze from the Sainsbury’s next to the apartment and got a taxi out to the Thames. We discussed several options with the taxi driver of where to lay our heads for the night, the driver was actually into the idea and suggested somewhere on Southbank, so Southbank it was. After a while searching for decent places to stop for the night and getting told to do one by security on two separate occasions we ended up on a moored boat whilst the tide was out. We did consider climbing halfway up a bridge but we were far too drunk for all that parkour business because we could only make it about six feet up.
We jumped up into the slippery deck of the boat and with the stench of diesel we fell to sleep like babies in a cot, that is after Jay rang everyone in his phone book (including Gunner, the Editor of the mag!) to let them know what we were up to.
Two hours later we woke to someone jumping on the boat from another telling us in a fairly relaxed thick London accent that we needed to get off. Looking over the edge we realised that we were in fact bobbing around somewhere in the middle of the Thames, don’t ask us how, we were both pretty confused too. The boat man had to tow us to shore so we could get out and he could get on with his job, I have no idea what his job was, but we were on his boat regardless.
After walking around for the best part of another hour or so and looking at various places to sleep, we spent the rest of the night behind a hedge somewhere just off the Southbank and to be honest had one of the best sleeps of the week. We woke up in the morning to the familiar sound of buses, taxis honking away and people walking right by us. We got up had a right laugh at ourselves and went for a posh coffee with all the office dicks and discussed how good sleeping rough in a city is.
LOL-ING IN THE RAIN (THE RIDE BACK FROM GREENWICH)
Everyone’s up and raring to go, let’s look out the window. Oh, it’s pissing down again.
After discussing what we should do for the day we decided to head out to Greenwich to ride that hip under the bridge. It’s a pretty generic hip under the usual flyover bridge but it is at least dry (ish) and we have George Eccleston with us to build things to ride.
We spent the full day there trying to get clips and setting time trial records, which consisted of 4 or 5 cones, a mountain bike and a group of fed up riders. The aim was to slalom through the cones, up the DIY vert wall, fakie out and slalom back through the cones to the finish line. It was actually the most fun I had all day other than riding the hip for two minutes. Mo looked real promising for the win with full on power but as always Mr Alpha Phelan took the win and top honours on the time trial.
Once we were done we had to make our way back to the flat. If you don’t know, Greenwich is about a 9 mile ride back to where we were staying in the city and just as we left, the heavens opened again.
A bit worried about getting wet at first we tried all the techniques known to man to avoid the soaked arse scenario, all whilst riding as fast as possible. The next thing I know Pete Sawyer is flying past me with a massive skid soaking me. It was all fun and games from here on, we got the Emirates cable car back over the river expecting it to make the journey back somehow easier once we had gotten north of the river. In the cable car and at its peak height, Pete and Fooman decide it would be a good idea to rock the cable car, shifting their weight from side to side whilst the cable car swung around like mad. And there I am trying to counteract the rocking by swinging in the opposite directions. Terrified by visions of plummeting into the Thames in a sealed capsule were not fun at all, although looking back, are now.
On the other side of the river we still had 8 miles to go and I was already wet to the gooch.
The team split into two fairly soon after landing on ‘dry’ land, one looking to get the train back and the rest of us (Jason, Mo, Hadrian and myself) decided to stick it out and ride all the way. Mike Curley had a little cry along the way because his bike might have gotten rusty or something, which was hilarious for all those present so they hopped on a train, which took a few miles out of the journey.
The best part of the whole ride back home though was seeing Mo really come out of his shell. For the most part Mo was fairly quiet but on the ride home through torrential rain he was shouting, laughing, dancing in puddles, skidding water at everyone, it was hilarious. I also saw him do one of the best whops I’ve ever seen in the pissing down rain, soaked from head to toe in a puddle that was about six inches deep.
As we got into the city I rode into a submerged pothole and went flying straight over the bars, which made Jay laugh for the rest of the night because of my terrified expression as I looked out for cars about to hit me. It was pretty funny I guess. After all the fun and games we got back to the flat, rung our clothes out, put our shoes in the oven and drank some beers. Awesome.
LETTING OFF SOME STEAM
So it’s the last night that the whole team are together, it’s been wet all week and a decent piss up has been well needed for a good few days now. We really have tried our hardest all week to get some decent footage and photos but the weather really hasn’t been on our side and most people are a bit frustrated that they couldn’t get as much done riding wise as they wanted. So, as always, we turn to drinking and being a bunch of dicks, I love it!
Now I can’t remember exactly everything that happened but I do know that the TM did a Listerine bong through an old inner tube, Jay got a few plates smashed over his head, we covered a car on the road with delbies (wet tissue), I got antiqued, Fooman and Pete stood in a shop farting, we rugby tackled road signs out of the floor, drank candles and ran through a car wash. I’m sure there were more antics but you get the idea.
Despite the weather it was a good week and I’m sure everyone is looking back with fond memories, although hopefully the next one will be more productive.
Things don’t always go smoothly, in fact it’s very rare that they do at all, but it’s the riders who manage to still get shit done despite what’s stacked against them that make me stoked on shooting photos and riding too. The weather was shite but the company was great and I know I wouldn’t want it any other way around.