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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. 

image

  • Days cycling in Santa suit: 2
  • Total distance: 18.4 miles
  • Calories burnt: Let’s just say I’ve paid for eating masses of chocolate over the weekend
  • Where I’ve cycled: Walworth – Sloane Square – West Kensington – Walworth
  • Raised for London Cycling Campaign: £71

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
@girlgoescycling 
#cyclingSanta

Thanks!

How’s that for cycle chic? It’s what everyone is talking about these days, so I took the plunge and ordered up some quality high-viz cycling gear. Here I am, doing a quick spin around my neighbourhood this morning to try it out.

Of course, I’m not trying to impress the police but all the lovely people out there who like the idea of a London fit for cycling. I’m hoping they’ll dig deep and sponsor me to cycle 100miles in the city this December, dressed as Santa.

Give on my JustGiving page, text ‘DENI80 £2' (also £3, £4, £5 or £10) to 70070, or chuck over some pennies if you see me in the street over the next few weeks (I promise they won't stay in my pocket).

It’s all in aid of the London Cycling Campaign, who are working really hard to make London a world-class cycling city. It’s a hugely important time for cycling, both here and across the UK. The tragic deaths of cyclists in London’s streets recently show how much work still needs to be done to achieve a safe and inviting environment for those who want to cycle. If you’ve ever had a near-miss - as I and many others have - or if you’re too scared to get on your bike, then you’ll know what I’m on about.

The good news is, the suit fits. Even better: there’s plenty of room left for the unavoidable mince-pie flab. 

The somewhat disturbing realisation - for me - is that a beard suits me. And I actually look like Santa. 

See you in a London street very soon!

Gratuitous photos of cycling and eating in Denmark and Sweden.