Posts Tagged ‘fold up bike’

Wimbledon Common and I

One of my first encounters with Wimbledon was when I was asked to go and work there. I worked for a coffee company which had kiosks in train stations all over the country so I would often get sent somewhere else for a day. I had been to a bar in Wimbledon before, years ago, with a friend, but I knew I wouldn’t still recognise anything.

I cycled there because I had recently decided I was going to exercise more and had purchased one of those little fold up bikes. I lived ten minutes away from Wimbledon Common and knew that all I had to do was get onto it from my end, cycle across it, emerge on the Wimbledon side and find the train station. Simple, right?

This is what actually happened. I got onto the Common and started cycling. I realised that my little fold up bike with its mini wheels was ill-equipped for stones and grass. I was thrown about all over the place, which I blame for loss of concentration. It was summer too so when I cycled through a patch of low hanging trees, there was all this nature-stuff all over the place and sticking to me, petals and bits of leaf and spiderwebs.

I had allowed an hour to make the journey and by the time I was forty minutes in and still on the Common, I started to worry. I just couldn’t find my way to the edge! I’d follow one certain direction in a straight line, figuring I would have to reach the outside soon, then I’d see something in another direction that I was sure must lead to Wimbledon so start off in a different direction. I felt like perhaps I had entered an enchanted land which was huge and inescapable. The Common was like the wardrobe which led into Narnia.

Eventually, after about an hour, by which point I am definitely going to be late to work and am becoming frantic, I emerged from the trees onto a large rugby playing field and a road on the other side of it. The edge of the Common! I had found it. There was a man walking his dog and I bumped over there on my bike and asked him directions to Wimbledon. He indicated back into the trees and said going round by road would take far too long. He gave me directions so I took a deep breath and plunged back in.

And I was lost again. I cycled round helplessly, looking for the tree stump or the split in the path that he had told me about. I couldn’t see any of it. I was lost. Again.

Eventually, I saw some flat grass and two people playing golf. I peddled over, panting and panicking and covered in nature. They pointed the route out to me and said I was near.

As I turned to go, one of them, a guy a similar age to me, said, “Wait a minute.”

Ah! thought I. This is how it is in the films. A damsel in distress, a young gallant man, rescues her and falls in love with her. His heart strings are pulled by her youthful naivete. He will ask me for my phone number now. Be cool. Be calm.

I turned back to him, expectantly.

“You’ve got a spider on your top.”

I looked down to find that he was right. I did indeed have a spider on my top, just by my shoulder. Acting as though I wasn’t even bothered, I brushed it off and hurried away, embarrassed.

I came to a little road and went into it, until a stern lady came out and made it clear that this was a private road and I needed to go that way, the other way, anything to get me out of her road.

After another half an hour or so of cycling and looking and feeling helpless, I eventually emerged and found my way to the station, exhausted and traumatised. Later that night, I finished my shift and decided to confront the Common again, face my fears head on. It took all of ten minutes for me to somehow, do a semi circle and end up coming off the Common a stone’s throw away from where I had entered it. I gave up on the Common then.

As a P.S., when I eventually decided to tackle Wimbledon Common again and figured out the route across it, it took fifteen minutes maximum, to get from end to end. On the day mentioned above, it took me two and a half hours.