Yesterday I suffered a terrible shock when I did my weekly VeloViewer update. My “Max Square” had reduced in size from 40 to 34!! Analysing my activities tab it seems as though I have lost three squares – two in the Chilterns and one a few miles south of Godalming. This latter square was deep inside my 40, so losing it necessarily reduced my square size a lot. I’m not sure why the square was no longer counted, but according to the tracks I’d probably hadn’t been there anyway – I skirted round the corner of it. Ben from Veloviewer tells me that the VeloViewer side had not changed; possibly the tracks coming out of Strava have been tweaked/smoothed/coarsened a little bit.
Rather than sitting at home bemoaning the fact that I am now further away from the all-mighty Belgians, I had to get up and do something about it.
I calculated to do my Borehamwood squares – the empty sector between north London and the M25 and get to work on time, I would need to leave home at 5am.
Not a minute after 5.30 I finally dragged myself out the front door. The first decision was whether to take the west or east route round Heathrow – through the middle and across the runways is not an option for even the most determined tiler. I chose west as this takes me through Harmondsworth – the town scheduled for destruction if Heathrow’s third runway really ever does go ahead. I personally don’t find the town particularly distinctive and would probably side with those residents who’ve known for decades of the Heathrow threat and are happy to accept the above-market valuation when the Compulsory Purchase Order finally comes. Others point to the town’s Grade I listed barn as a sign of distinctive-ness. This will be preserved no matter what – maybe in twenty years time you will see it alongside as you hurtle down the finally-built runway.
After Hayes and Yeading, I reach the Harrows, which I generally don’t like because it seems to take ages get through them all (South Harrow, West Harrow, Harrow on the Hill, Harrow, Harrow and Wealdstone, Harrow Weald and eventually North Harrow) especially as it all uphill in this direction until you eventually get to the top of the dying embers of the Chilterns ridge. Over the M1 at Brockley Hill and finally a new square at 26 miles. Sod’s law having had clear moonlit skies at home, the fog is quite thick here and as I’m forced into the little ring for a short sharp kick up Barnet Lane the traffic flashes past hard and tight. This time of year “professional” drivers (PHV, taxis, delivery vans) form a higher proportion of the traffic than usual and it really shows. “Professional” in the sense of football’s “professional” foul :/.
Going through Borehamwood, I catch sight of the famous Elstree Studios . Currently it is home to glamourous programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and Celebrity Big Brother, but I have to say the buildings themselves have a bit 1960s-civil-services about them. My square rides have also seen me pass the Pinewood Studios (Iver Heath), Warner Brothers Studios (Leavensden), Longcross Studios (Virginia Water) and the Ealing Studios (Ealing)… when I am going to see a celebrity dammit…
Crossing the A1 on the “busiest travel day of the year” – was alright at 6.30am!
The next five miles is basically swirling around in the dark around Hadley – new squares coming thick and fast but not too many sights of interest. In terms of names Barnet is almost as bad as Harrow (Barnet Gate, New Barnet, East Barnet, Barnet, Freirn Barnet) but I am struck by how widespread the nice areas of Barnet are – if you have a million pounds to spare, there are lots of nice houses around here. Kind of the opposite of Harrow which has a nice bit (the Hill) but a surprising amount of not so nice bits.
For most people Cockfosters, being on the end of the Tube line, is pretty much the end of the earth, but for me it marks the beginning of the end of the ride – I’ve been here before and there are no new squares between here and the office. In contrast to out in the sticks, as I get more central it is clear the traffic is very light and it is smooth sailing through Finchley, Archway and Holloway. The Archway bridge (Hornsley Lane Bridge) looks great in the sun (we’re in London now, so the fog has gone).
I finally grind into the City at 8.55am, 25 minutes late, which is basically 5 minutes early having started 30 minutes late 😉
New squares: 26
Current square size: 36×36 ( :-(, but a slight recovery from the shock of 34 yesterday )