Days cycling in Santa suit: 7
Total distance: 87.8 miles
Calories burnt: Thousands
Where I’ve cycled: All of the below, plus Lewisham, more of the West End, Islington, Hackney, the City
Raised for London Cycling Campaign: £234
Yep, the £200 target has been well and truly smashed, so with a bit of a push I’m now hoping to reach £300.
It’s been a busy and sweaty few days. On Sunday I rode in beautiful winter sunshine with the very knowledgeable Francis Sedgemore and other familiar faces from Lewisham cyclists. I traced the borders of the borough with the guys until it was time for Santa’s lunch - and for staring adoringly at my friends’ new baby boy - in Bellingham.
The highlight of the working week so far has been the London Bike Kitchen's Xmas Carol window-shopping ride, meandering from the heart of the West End through Islington to the Kitchen itself, in Hackney. Much merriment, mulled wine, beautiful vegan chocolate cake and flapjacks were had by all. That and a discussion of the merits of John Hughes films, as well as a fond leafing through Richard Ballantine's iconic Bicycle Book. Read it, or you might never know how to fix your broken chain with a handy coat hanger that you might just have brought along for the ride.
Not long to go now. Enjoying the ride.
…two £1 coins and two 50p. And a kind compliment on my fetching looks (weird how this didn’t happen ever when I didn’t wear a beard.)
Days cycling in Santa suit: 3
Total distance: 29.3 miles
Calories burnt: Hundreds.
Where I’ve cycled: Walworth – Sloane Square – West Kensington – Victoria – Trafalgar Square – Leicester Square – Tottenham Court Road – Bloomsbury – Covent Garden – Waterloo – Kennington – Walworth
Raised for London Cycling Campaign: £124
Day three (a mini-break to Manchester yesterday, sans suit), and starting to feel less self-conscious now; less worried about negative reaction or looking the fool.
Because of course I do, I know I do. But here’s a thing – some people really like Santa. And I’m not just talking about the little people going to school, but also those who take them there. (My fellow cyclists are still not wholly convinced, judging from the somewhat suspicious looks, but I reckon cycling Santa might get to them too. At least I hope she does.)
Or is it even Santa? Maybe we’re dormant extroverts who instinctively jump at the chance to smile at a stranger across the street, wave at them, will them on. Not all of us, of course, but a significant number. Maybe the odd and surprising attracts us. Perhaps spontaneous interaction releases a boost of happy enzymes or something. And perhaps we want to – ought to – engage in it more often.
So yes, a lot less worried now. And very grateful – for the nods, thumbs-up, shouts, the £3 given in change at a cycle traffic light facing south towards Waterloo Bridge. The kindness of strangers.
So it’s on! I must admit, stepping out of the front door yesterday was pretty nerve-wracking. Then, within just five metres, I had my first ‘Look! It’s Father Christmas!!!’ from a tiny schoolboy. Then ‘Ho, ho ho’, and waves and smiles – from adults and children, men in white vans, double-decker drivers.
I got to work really overheated, and there were a fair few incredulous stares from those who hadn’t read the staff newsletter. Still, I’ve already raised over a third of my target amount, and something tells me I’m going to enjoy riding as Santa.
Good, because I have another 82 miles to go.
If you see me in the street, do say ‘hi’ (or ‘ho’) and take my picture. I haven’t yet resorted to selfies, so I need your help gathering evidence of my sweaty efforts.
You can tweet them to me on