Cleverchimp is in London with Dean Mullin of Clever Cycles, on business. After London, Amsterdam. It’s a secret mission.
We arrived yesterday on a redeye flight. Our greasy head-achey exhaustion was lightened by Paul’s welcome. Paul’s got the UK’s only Stokemonkey so far, in Dorset. He traveled two hundred miles to meet us at our hotel, arriving by Brompton with his 18-month old son Jo in a backpack. He came bearing gifts from his small farmstead: four small loaves of bread, a hard sausage from his pigs, a large bottle of hard cider from his apple trees, and a round of cheddar. Of course I didn’t break into it right then, but I was left feeling doubly, trebly grateful after tasting it later that evening, before I slept. The cheese in particular!
Paul led us through the maze of west-central London to a coffee shop in the direction of Bikefix, a shop Paul knew that we meant to see, partly along Brompton Road, whose name had been given our bikes. Over coffee we watched Jo play and studied the bike map Paul later gave us. Paul also presented the copy of A to B magazine in which Stokemonkey had received an introductory blurb. A full review is rumored to follow. Paul, I can’t thank you enough for your hearty, touching kindness!
Paul bade us farewell as he and Jo made for their return train. We arrived at Bikefix too late to attend to the broken spoke I had, and we were too tired to introduce ourselves. It was growing rapidly dark and we had about twenty or so turns to find in the harrowing traffic on the way back to the hotel, so we set off. We’re not accustomed to riding left, it seems more than half the streets are unmarked, and there’s nothing resembling a grid. We made a cue sheet. We had been lost only a little while when Dean spied Velorution, another shop we’d meant to visit. A look in the window drew us in. The bikes! “Are you Andrea?” I asked of the man busy at the rear of the showroom. Yes, he was. I introduced myself as we’d been corresponding very briefly for a few years, and I had told him we were coming. He had to go, but if we were heading his direction we could ride with? He hopped on a Christiania and made off at a speed I had supposed infeasible, darting the wide trike into every space it would go. I shouted ahead something about how we’d better stay behind as his fat ride left a nice wake. He shouted back something to the effect that his trike wasn’t fat, rather it was the cars and trucks, “fat like swine!” he sneered with Italian flourish. That’s the Andrea I recognized from his venerable blog.
He set us securely on a heading for Hyde Park. The moon was full and the sky clear. We rode by Albert Hall and broke into McCartney/Lennon. Later we got lost again, and again, and again, but at the hotel finally there was a shower, cider, goodness and sleep.