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stuffandnonsense: Singing at London Ride in Kingston

What an early start this morning. I set the alarm for 6am and was out of the house shortly after 7am. I had to be in Kingston by 8am because Euphonix was singing in the Market Place to wave off the hand cyclists at 8.30am.

It was a lovely blue sky morning and there was hardly anyone around. I knew the buses were on diversion but due to the fact I had got into Kingston when the Olympic bike ride took place I knew more or less where the bus would go and end up in Kingston.

Got to the bus stop to see that the next bus was a 29 minutes wait. What?

That was no good. I walked down to a different bus stop – a route that goes a different way into Kingston. There I found the High Street cordoned off and four or five fire engines there.

The bus that goes down the High Street was now being diverted to use the same route as the original bus. (Still with me?) I just missed a bus and there was no ‘countdown’ to say how long I would have to wait. Another bus came along which usually goes to Heathrow Airport but everyone was thrown off that with no advice as what to do, where to go, or how to get to Kingston. So, there I am giving advice as to trains and buses to these poor stranded people when we saw another bus on diversion (one which doesn’t normally come through my town) coming around the corner.

We ran! We got to the bus just as the doors closed. A lady banged on the door but the driver wouldn’t open them and drove away.

Another bus was behind (the one which wasn’t supposed to come for 29 minutes!) so we headed for that. The driver complained as we entered ‘Why didn’t you get on the bus in front?’ He was so rude. We told him the driver shut the doors.

Then he was more pleasant. I thought, what does it matter to him whose bus we take! I was livid.

The nightmare journey over with we arrived with time to spare. Then the next problem. The choir was due to meet outside The Rose Theatre but because of the barricades we could only cross at certain points and then they said they would close those points.

We had choir members all over the place. Eventually we decided to go The Rose and just wait. As it happened no crossing points were closed completely.

All day the stewards had opened them when there was a gap between groups of cyclist (they did an excellent job). The choir finally all assembled but were missing one important person – our MD! He had problems on the rail network and we thought we would not be able to sing as the hand cyclists started their race.

Ben turned up in the nick of time, phew! There was no time for a warm up. We went straight into song.

At 8.30am there were not many people around and no shops open. Mainly the stewards and police were our audience, though a few people had trickled in. We got a good reception anyway.

A few of us even managed to get a photo with the Mayor and Mayoress! After that we arranged a new meeting point and time for our ‘busking session’. Meanwhile a few of us wandered up to the approach to Kingston Bridge as we could see some early cyclists (the amateur riders) going through.

We cheered them on. The second session was preceded by a quick warm up and then it was round to Kingston Station to sing. Finally, we did a session near Kingston Bridge.

We were right on the road. We waved as we sang and it was obvious the cyclists appreciated us being there. We got waves and smiles.

We finished about 10.45am. It was such a lovely morning that we were reluctant to leave. A friend and I headed to Costa for a well earned drink and then we nipped into a charity shop (where I bought three books!).

Wherever we went we had to go to crossing points as cyclists were whizzing round corners in packs. It was brilliant. Luckily, coming home the buses were better and I had no trouble.

It was wonderful to be part of something like this. While I am not an avid cycle fan, there is something about being there and seeing it live. This afternoon I watched the elite cyclists from the comfort of my sofa.

I know most of where they race, Box Hill (that is one hell of a climb) and the journey back into London.

All those places I know well.

An exciting day, despite the chaotic start.

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