Two nights in London is not enough to get the full London experience, but with our trip slowly coming to an end, we knew we had to keep on truckin. We said our goodbyes to Hagen and his flat mates and set off through the busy city with plan of making it to Reading where some of my cousins friends lived.
After meeting the guys at the B1866 (Brooks Saddles) store in Covent Garden the previous day, we stopped by the shop on our way out to grab some coffee, share some more stories, and do some more convincing that they need to come out to California for a bike tour! We talked about bikes, touring, highlights of our trip, and why traveling by bike is the best way to travel. With the shop starting to get busy, we said our goodbyes but not before finding out that Serge's girlfriend, Emma, owned a barber shop up the street. I couldn't pass up a clean cut after so many weeks in the road, so I immediately jumped at the opportunity to have Emma cut my grimy hair (sorry Emma!).
Before stoping by ELP Barbershop, we popped our heads in the London Specialized shop to show off our AWOL Comps and tell them about our trip and what we are doing. We met the crew took a few photos gave them a review of the bikes thus far on the trip, and we were off.
Let me start by saying if you find yourself in London and need a "haircut, wet shave, and a beer", heading over to ELP to see Emma is a must! If you need help finding the place her shop is located at:
3 Earlham Street,
Seven Dials, Covent Garden,
London, WC2H 9LL
The atmosphere of the shop is unreal. From the tree bark wall paper, to the art on the walls, bikes in the back, and fresh cup of coffee I received when I got there, I was in my happy place. After a quick shampoo to rid my hair of the road grime, Emma went to work and in no I went from looking like a bike touring bum to a dapper London gent. Okay I was still in my spandex so I was still rocking the bike bum look just with a fresh haircut. Seriously people if you are in London go to ELP and have Emma cut your hair, you will not be disappointed and will walk out of the shop stoked on life. Thanks Emma for the cut, can't wait for you and Serge to come out to California and tour with us!
Leaving our new friends behind sucked but we had to make it to Reading. Riding through the streets of London is and adrenaline rush, dodging and weaving through traffic, our panniers making it extra difficult to do just that. We made it about 10 blocks from the barbershop before the screw in my back rack snapped inside my frame again. Now an expert on solving this, I swopped out the screw and rigged it up to the my rear dropouts and we were back on the streets of the city. About another 10 blocks later, just before making it out of London, my actual rack snapped. Out of duck-tape and lacking a welding torch, I resorted to piling everything onto my front rack. My back panniers on the bottom, my front panniers on top of that, and my tent and fins sandwiched in between, it was all held together with my two bungee cords and cargo net. My front was so loaded that my handlebar bag barely was able to fit over it all. Not willing to settle for buying a cheap piece of crap back rack, we rode to the nearest train station in order to stay on track and make it to Reading with the hopes of a good quality rack waiting for me.
Now let me tell you. Riding a bike with around 80 pounds of gear loaded down to just the front of your bike is a challenge. Now, riding a bike with 80 pounds of gear loaded down to the front of your bike in an extremely busy city such as London with taxis and bus' swerving around you is nearly impossible. My adrenaline was pumping before this, but now I was sweating bullets and praying to God to just let me make it to the train station.
I survived the few mile trek to the station and before long we were finally on our way to Reading. Or so I thought...
The train was busy, and with two bikes in the carriage we were blocking the exit, so at our first stop I opted be a gentleman and hop off the train to let people out. Note to self, never get off a busy train. As soon as I got off and the people exited behind me, everyone else rushed the door. Scrambling to find another carriage to get myself and my bike on I ran down the platform looking for an opening. Next thing you know the doors of the train closed and I was mouthing the words "see you in Reading" to Ryan through the plexiglass windows of the now moving train. All I could think was thank god I was in England and people spoke English otherwise this would have been a lot worse. The next train to Reading was in 45 minutes so I embraced the situation and passed the time speaking with all the locals who saw me miss my train or who were curious enough to ask me what the hell I was doing.
After a very long day I eventually made it to Reading, dropped my bike off at the shop to get it fixed and to get a new rack, and made it to Brian and John's where we would be staying for the night. After a solid dinner we hit the hay anticipating another day of riding in the rain.