Weather: Extremely hot
Being part of the colourful flash flood of cyclists that swept down (or should that be up!) the Edgeware Road on Sunday morning.
A late night/early morning conversation with a young Redfielder, covering everything from solar panel design to the annual inter-rural community volleyball championships.
Sixty cyclists drawn together from all sorts of pathways through life assembled under Waterloo Bridge to set off on a long ride to protest about the mounting absurdity of modern living. That protest needs to be put at the feet of the leaders (or mis-leaders) of the most over-revving countries on the planet - the G8.
Present were two cameramen, claiming to be making a documentary for one of those BBC digital channels which is watched by about as many people as they were filming. My T-shirt was a subject of filming simply because its slogan is a little impolite about cars. I am not convinced that the documentary will win any prizes for insightfulness.
Well, we certainly didn't over-rev getting out of London but we did make our presence felt along Whitehall with our impromptu stop at the gates (yes those elegant security gates) of Downing Street. Next time we will choose a day when Blair of G8 is at home.
It was well after dark by the time we had finished our evening protest at the site of the proposed (and almost certain to be built) Linslade by-pass. We would not have been nearly so late had my comrades not been given slightly incomplete instructions for escaping from ever-decreasing circles in Watford. I am whistling airily in the hope that nobody notices.
Incidentally I only have the rude version of the T-shirt because all the polite ones had been snapped up by the more agile riders.
We're on the road to Edgeware, heads talking, pass Brian Haw's low impact living initiative followed by Mr Blair's high impact - stop to tell him so, "where's your solar panels Tony?" Then on to her majesty's, again no sign of sustainability. North of Watford and we get lost, and lost again but finally free ourselves of the urban stranglehold and start to breathe ... ahhh. Arrive at the Linslade bypass site early evening, refuel & proceed to ride around the roundabout, unable to get off as exits blocked by cars all hooting along as Pedals, our sound system pumps up the volume.
Sisters & brothers rollin on to Redfield and as we reach the crest of the final climb of the day, a sight to behold; at the other end of the projected bypass route, fences, signs etc. appear to have been blown over by the wind delaying construction that bit more. It's a mystery how that happened. LILI at last, 10.30pm .... soup bread, flapjacks, bed.
Pedals: 2 people on a tandem with a rather meaty sound system in tow. The fastest bike down hill but very slow up hill.
Riders: Tim, Tony, Ian and Joel
Leave Waterloo playing Fella Kuti via the Queen's gaff and then paused at Downing street where Tony is spotted dancing to the tunes. Carried on the tunes up to Edgware. Gears crunching a bit. Had Teddy Bear's picnic in the woods and bombed up to Linslade and pedalled around the Wing roundabout where local campaign group including Roadblock and Stop the Linslade bypass said a few words. Rear handle bars a little wobbly and bottom bracket a bit loose on the front and changing down the gears difficult. Come on Pedals we can do it.
Okay so here I am 8am Sunday morning outside the NFT thinking what the bloody hell have I talked myself into,Cycling to Scotland for the G8 summit might seem like a good idea after 8 pints of a reassuringly expensive lager, but not quite as appealing in the cold light of day. We start off at a leisurely pace sound system blaring away leafleting passers-by, waving at the tourists as we go round parliament square and a brief stop outside Downing St much to the annoyance of the locals, make our way to Buckingham palace to wave at queenie, and then up Edgeware Rd, Maida Vale, Kilburn, Cricklewood, Yeah this is nice stopping for refreshments near Harrow planning to stop for lunch outside Watford. All seems easy apart from the fact that all our route maps start from outside London surely we don't need maps to get past the M25. Whoops 2hrs cycling round Watford and I'm thinking "how the fuck are we gonna get to Scotland?" After lunch its 25 miles to Linslade on the hottest day of the year so far. I use my last remaining strength and willpower to get there. We're greeted by the people from the bypass protest with fruit and cake and its great but there's still 2 hours on the road to Redfield House. Seriously considering catching train home and facing up to the truth that I can't lie to my body clock but I just cant wimp out on the first day so get to Redfield and collapse in a heap.
Weather: Very hot
Riding around the perimeter road of Coventry Airport - a practical lesson in taming the behaviour of the dismal inhabitants of those queueing cages.
The lavish hospitality of Baginton village protesters Roger and Jean in their 16th century farmhouse. Going to sleep listening to the drone of "ground noise" from the runway only 600m away.
Woken by the sound of an exploding tyre-surely an alarm clock would do - then off to Buckingham to fix lunch (recipes for sandwich fillings other than p'nut butter & banana welcome).
Sustained, it's off on the Sustrans route to Coventry - our navigating facilitated by road signs for horses, etc, with speech bubbles saying "G8 this way, common sense the other".
"Pedals" drowns out the noise of flights at Coventry Airport and we hook up with the local campaign group encircling the airport finally arriving at the departure terminal, given a rousing reception by the security and passengers sunning themselves on the grass outside. The power of Pedal's open mike persuades them all to abandon their holidays and join us in planting their carbon footprints ups to Scotland.
Critical Mass through Coventry is joined by their local stunt team, Liam, wheelying our way to the most amazing buffet I've ever had the pleasure of digesting. Big Endo up to all at Coventry Peace House.
Riders: Tim, Ian and Tony
Adjusted front Derailleur and tightened head set before heading off and made finer adjustments to front derailleur whilst moving along. Beginning to get into a bit of a rhythm its apparent that a communication between the front rider and the back is essential since their pedals are chained together and the pilot has control of all the controls. Front steering locked , there was a crack as the bearing cages double back on itself. Tim adjusted headset fortunately the support bike trailer only a few yards behind so not much of a delay, however we put up with the grunching in the steering. Arrived at Coventry airport, played some tunes and heard local anti-airport campaigner give a speech and celebrate local activists 93rd birthday. Head towards passenger terminal playing tunes and rider tells passengers what the hoo hah is all about. Ride into Coventry and team up with local free wheeler Liam who joins in the mass.
Bike in as bad a state as me! Running repairs with cable ties and bungee rope. Dope myself up with Vitamin C. multivitamin and Essence of Olive Flower and set off for Buckingham 10 miles and breakfast by the canal. From Buckingham we have route maps and a group in front chalk marking the road at turns. Half the way is on Sustrans (Sustainable Transport) roads with not that many cars and apart from a few buggers of hills quite nice stopping at pubs to replenish our water (honestly! just water). the bike trailers carrying sandwiches and bike spares halfway to Coventry should be there by 6. OK completely shagged again but get to the protest against the expansion of Coventry Airport.
It's a big lift to come in to big cheers from the crowd there and after a cycle invasion of the airport telling passengers about the true cost of cut-price flights we leave and merrily cycle right through the centre of Coventry where we were joined by hundreds of cars (well they were following us at 4 miles an hour) and get to Coventry Peace House where there is a veritable feast awaiting us. Some go off to stay in peoples houses for the night. I went to the pub. I've got my priorities!
Weather: Still very hot
Playing cat and mouse on country roads with our uninvited uniformed escorts.
Entering Loughborough to the Star Wars theme whose ped population is the friendliest so far on the ride.
First driver-inflicted wheel damage sustained by member of ride on arrival in Nottingham. Experiencing the lump-in-throat and tear-in-eye inducing effects of good food and good company at the SUMAC centre.
Send me to Coventry any day, packed off with a packed lunch from heaven, we're rolling as one through Hinckley, then Loughborough - the cops even abandoning their normal duties to link up with us, their flashing lights providing a light show for our sounds, jigging along to the Pogues.
Riding through the Glen, Robin Hood appears directing us to Nottingham through Gotham Village where, surreally, a car passes us with someone poking an umbrella through the window - penguin power!
Our youngest member, Dylan, one year one month, rocks along to Pantera's "Revolution is my Name" and Nottingham has it large singing along to Rage Against the Machine .... 'Fuck You I Won't Do What You Tell Me', unless of course you tell me to consume large amounts of Angel beer at SUMAC and then go to bed tyred, endorphined to the max and with the thoughts of tomorrow's rest day fulfilling my dreams.
Riders: Tim, Tony and Ian
Star Wars is obviously a popular tune as we take on the empire. We are getting into a bit of a rhythm now but gears are still slipping and steering difficult. Arrive in Nottingham to heavy metal and drum and bass. Riders hang well back to prevent loss of hearing but still bouncing to the tunes.
6am Day 3. 120 miles so far - today's gonna be a breeze at only 50 miles. After eating a breakfast of fruit and muesli; God I'm turning into a hippy, nah 12 coffees and as many cigs we set off and after about 20 miles Pigs try to flag us down "ooh yes of course officer" then they overtake and try again saying if we don't stop they'll report us! Who to? The Police?! Eventually we stop and they say we're holding up the traffic! We are the traffic Numbnuts! That seemed to confuse them so they decide to give us an escort only now no one will overtake us because of the Cops. So a couple of miles down the road we stop for lunch in a park and decide to split into 2 groups and meet up 10 miles from Nottingham so we can ride in together. There is some confusion and every roundabout we come to we go round at least 6 times! It's amazing how easy it is to windup car drivers. Reaching Sumac around 7 and a night down the pub. this cycling is thirsty work!
Weather: Still no sign of rain
Went shopping in Mansefield Road. Bought 3 tins of paint (£2.19 each (ouch!) from Wilkinsons), butterfly on wire (£1 from Pricewise - that's more like it), golf club (putter, £3 from Cancer Research - bargain!). Scrounged old bedding and coloured tape from our amazing hostess Polly-dot-Olly. Created bike flag (see blog photos for construction details).
Late night trying to work out how to use a 1930's hand powered Singer sewing machine.
Riders: Tim and Dan
Pedals' workshop was a great success with new trained engineers ready to take on the task of MC, selector as rear rider. Tandem had a complete overhaul ; replaced bearings on headset, dismantled and reassembled both bottom brackets, gears and brakes adjusted. Rode into Nottingham and had a chilled out party at the magic roundabout in the evening sun Dan engineered MC selector (as rear rider).
Yesterday, I felt that our message was a bit diluted in a sea of pirate skulls. So I wrote an explicit rant about our aims:
D'you know why I am riding to Scotland?
Our 8 most hated dicta-leaders will meet there to discuss how to maintain their economic system. This is the G8.
I ride against them. I ride because I am sick of their system, their economy, their wars. I ride against all forms of oppression, I ride against exploitation. I ride against capitalism and the consumerist culture. Capitalism kills everything and changes it into dead profit. Cars are one of the most typical examples. So I ride against the killer-car culture, I ride our bikes to show a realistic, clean and safe means of transportation-The best one. I ride up to the g8 to express our distrust of these 8 tyrants. We know that their agenda is opposed to ours, whatever they may pretend. We know that whatever its face, capitalism is opposed to freedom.
I ride for freedom. I ride for love. I ride for peace. I ride for the earth. I ride for justice. I ride for life. I ride for fun. In short, I ride for revolution.
Weather: Yes, you guessed it ... still hot
am: Swapping knowledge with a climate change literate road gang while waiting for the latest mechanical casualty to catch us up (loose screws are the main problem in our splinter group today). Did you know that road gangs use concrete with a 10 minute curing time to minimise traffic delays and that manhole covers can safely carry 100 ton loads?
pm: Celebrating the end of a long day's ride with a widdershins slalom of Nine Ladies stone circle. Later, after ladlefuls of Stanton Lees hospitality, sinking into a starlit sleep to the sound of drumming from left-over solsticers.
Riders Tim, Tony and Ian
Made some noise out of Nottingham and well into the suburbs, played a few words recorded the night before from some of the riders. The locals loved it. After about ten miles there was the snapping of a spoke on the back wheel which began to look wobbly. The back brakes were loosened to prevent the rubbing and pedals carried on. Near Derby Tim ran an errand into the town to get some new spokes. He asked an elderly lady for directions to the local bike shop "My hubby will sort you out" she replied. Tim was led up the garden path ... to a shed , a cyclists Aladdin's cave (he had a dual beam Mercian fixed wheel) and all sorts of bike bits and bobs. Tim caught up with the rest of the ride with replacement spokes. Chris repaired the wheel over lunch. Pushed on up some very steep hills with the heavy sound system in tow whilst the gears crunched. Down some steep long hills we had to pause to let the wheels cool down since they were getting very very hot from the braking (enough to make your spit sizzle). Had to push pedals up the hill to nine ladies (1 in 7) then lift it over the boulders across the entrance to the site.
Weather: RAIN at last!!!
The verge gutter streams are running warm over tarmac that has been baked by 5 days of heatwave.
...the top of Wynatts Pass in 1/1 and wiping the sweat out of my stinging eyes;
...the traffic lights in Chapel-en-le-Frith lights after 5+ km of 50+ kph brakeless descent;
...Manchester Piccadilly in time to join the 100+ critical mass with local bikers.
From a stuffy radical basement, or a magical reclaimed quarry, across bubbling tarmac, bumpy red bike lanes and sleepy village greens a torrent of flouro flags and cyclists and trailers flashing past pedestrians and drinkers and school children, passing by passers by in a flurry of horn blowing and hooting and "we're cycling from London to Scotland against the..." comes the travelling protest community with their panniers and bungee cords and sun cream and stencilled t-shirts.
Through sun and past fields of cows, up dales and into reservoirs, around roundabouts and city centres, through red lights and lines of traffic, over grit and white lines and overjoyed; over-stretching, pumping pedals and pumping hearts, endorphins and blood surging and purging, across counties and nations, across cultures and motorways and moorland, through police lines and on protests, around airfields and back roads we cycle.
With sunburn and bin bags, with bags under our eyes and voices singing, with face paint and banners, with hope and exhilaration and exhaustion, with peanut butter and jam, with trailer pushing and back markers, with chocolate and roll mats, with strangers and allen keys, with water, flyers, stickers and helmets, with music and maps and meetings we ride.
We talk and stop and start and break down, we fix up and share and teach and play, we look out for and connect and smile, we meet and wave and confuse, we crouch down and fly down, we stand up and sweat, we joke, we swear, we travel, we see; we touch, we discover, we ride, we cycle, we surge, we learn, we thrive.
Riders: Chris and Tim
Lifted pedals back over the boulders and headed to Manchester. Critical mass was a blast with Star Wars etc and Hagop was engineer playing tunes and MCing. However we nearly lost a wheel on the trailer since the quick release had gone but was spotted just in time before catastrophe. Pedals was decorated with silver stars and pink fluff and posters for bravery.
These brilliant ink sketches were deftly created by Jill Gibbon who lives near the protest camp and visits regularly. She captured Joel recovering from the excursions of the climb to Nine Ladies and me using her ink to produce a childish pennant for attachment to my bike.
Riders: Tim, Ian and Tony
Played tunes MC Ben was up on the mike and doing the engineering when another bike with trailer collided into the side of pedals and cut through the remote power cable bringing on a sudden silence. Played some chilled out tunes around the campfire.
Having squeezed ourselves into the Basement vegan cafe cum radical bookshop we are now about to squeeze our way out again. I will have to lug my typically over-laden chunky bicycle up the steps hampered even more by my injured knee. Yesterday evening during our splendid Critical Mass ride round the city centre, I fell off my bike in an accident that could have cost many lives. We had stopped at a junction (unusual for a CM crowd) when my foot refused to come out of the clip and I toppled onto my side bumping my knee. Why can't I have an heroic run-in with an absurdly impatient driver rather than an embarrassing encounter with my own incompetence. At least no one caught me on camera - a minor miracle in our brave new camera-phone World.
Matt was having such a great week until he learnt yesterday that his house had been broken into and turned upside down. He has so kindly arranged for us to stay at his house and garden for our rest day today. I hope our presence has been more of a comfort to him than an added burden. Some of his local friends have treated us to fabulous food cooked outside in a contraption made from an old washing machine drum and some sort of discarded hopper - recycling and re-use in action!
Our daily meetings have been rather rambling affairs as is the norm for diverse non-hierarchical groups but we are trying to find forms of decision making that are a little more streamlined. Working groups spring up for selected tasks and work well enough but is this the top of the slippery (and fortunately very long) slope from consensus into dictatorship?
That said, and like Matt, I have had a great week with this crew which with the addition of a few folk in Nottingham some from Manchester and the absorption of the riders on the smaller East Coast Ride now numbers about 60. We don't know precisely how many riders we are or how many we have lost - that would smack too much of organisation.
Weather: Shirts still off
Studying (although certainly not mastering) the ancient craft of horn making.
Late night day dreaming of how next year's g8bikeride might be the start or finish of a much bigger cycle tour. Or how about a non-stop g8 to g8bikeride?
Rest day and fixed cut cable.
Weather: River-swimming hot
Desperately trying to keep up with Pedals on the stunning but relentless ups and downs between Kirby and Penrith. The ups were only possible under tune power.
The sweet taste of poached chips washed down with a bottle of plonk on the pavement outside the Bluebell Bookshop in Penrith, followed by a comfortable night's sleep stretched out in the travel section.
Riders: Tim, Chris, Ian and Tony
Star Wars again and the riders smile. Made some noise at the university (Lancs) about multinationals taking over the college and setting the agenda etc and a rant about tuition fees and grants. Back wheel popped another spoke again but the trailer with all the spares is up ahead. Eventually caught them up at the next pub and the wheel was fixed again. Half an hour later and another spoke snaps but its getting late in the day only ten miles to go so we push on to Preston. Played some tunes when we got there to the amusement of the local bad boys who offered 15 hundred quid for it, uh sorry its not for sale.
Riders: Tim and Hagop
Mini mass out of town. Burst tyre which had to be fixed with gaffer tape. Made it to the overnight forest stop where we had a party to the sounds of reggae.
Riders: Ian and Tony
Tim made another repair to the broken tyre which had torn in two places. We set off wondering whether gaff tape will hold out for the next 45 miles to the end of the journey. Many contributed to the end of the road party selection which carried on well into the early hours of the morning.
Weather: English at first, Scottish later
Dodgy Sustrans off road signage resulting in unpopular bike-lifting but entertaining cow field navigation.
Carlislanders' stories of the Great Flood of the 6th January 2005 (100's are still homeless!) and one Lockerbian stalker's story of the now year-round plague of rabbits that he attributes to climate change.
No easy Internet access in beautiful Cumbria or the borders and full days in the saddle have kept us quiet these last few days but there should be more posts and pictures today and over the weekend.
At our final "official" stop here in Lanarkshire we are 57 in total.
One or two people are leaving our mobile community today but many will be going on to Edinburgh, the Faslane blockade (not my scene) and Stirling.
We had a bit of a party last night in the warm midgey air. Parties - been there, done that, got a whole stack of T-shirts (very wasteful) so I sloped off to bed and I am chipper as ever this morning.
Eating up the miles to Abington in 2 hours. The Dumfries police seem almost sorry to see us go.
Party night at Talamh. "Solar Eclipse", "Wizards, Pixies and Giants" and falling down with laughter in the long grass playing "Let's all..."
Big up to Pedals and all Pedals' peddlers for keeping us going. We made it!
With the unusual benefit of a strong tailwind, I was easily able to join our Critical Mass around Edinburgh yesterday evening where we were joined by a disappointingly small number of people from the established Glasgow Critical Mass. Actually, I made such speed from Talamh and the mass was so delayed (I'm not sure why) that I sat on the Meadows in the strong sunshine for a couple of hours. Why could none of the many dozens of MPH cyclists who were massed on another stretch of the Meadows be persuaded to join the mass? Maybe the MPH, for all its worthiness, has been so absorbed by the establishment that a gentle ride around town is too radical!
"Pedals" popped it's clogs after only a few minutes of our gentle urban procession so we continued to the desperately strained thumping of a precariously rack-mounted tape-loop player which with its bike and rider had accompanied us on the mass in Manchester. Before I had had the chance to ask the rider which city he normally frequents, he had sped off, no doubt, to pop up again. I hope by then he has had the chance to fix his rack and by a new loudspeaker.
The relative quiet of the mass left me more able to appreciate, as one can only from a slow procession along the middle of the street, the extent of the beauty of this great city.
I am left at Talamh with two poorly cyclists who cannot join that contingent of our fine ranks which is proceeding to Edinburgh for this evening's Critical Mass ride.
I have spent the whole of the last day drowning in a heady cocktail of curmudgeonly computers and my own incompetence. I have just about clung to the side of the class and have rescued most if not all of our hundreds of photos from the laptop whose owner is going his own way today.
There was no plan B after reaching Scotland but many of us will be involved with G8 protests over the next week and a few of us, whose lives have nothing better to offer, might do something like this again.
That said, there are gaps in this blog which need to be filled and the story isn't over even if the party is. What this space. (pardon? I must have been getting tired - I mean, watch this space)
Yesterday brought the frustration after a very short night's sleep of failing to buy a new tweeter for "Pedals" and struggling even to buy a few components with which to construct a dummy alternative. Edinburgh was cut in half by the orderly procession of MPH marchers who were, depending on your viewpoint, making an impact on the policy makers or lending the unholy policies an air of public support. The procession flowed obediently between the firm steel fences which kept it where it was wanted but also made getting across the city rather difficult for the maverick cyclist. I was glad to escape to Stirling albeit by a less than optimal route which was positively circuitous around Falkirk thanks to the distracting appearance of an unexpected bypass.
I had failed to ask any of my fellow riders where the eco-village is in Stirling so I wasted a little more time cycling about before stooping to asking the locals for directions. Nevertheless, I arrived before dark to find a large and very bumpy field populated with many dozens of tents, numerous marquees several seemingly well constructed toilets and a few bustling kitchens. I did my best to find a good sleeping lie in my favoured peripheral circumstances, put up the tent and retired for a reasonable night's sleep.
The village is laid out as a number of pretty much self-contained neighbourhoods after a pattern developed by some South American resistance group whose name I really should know. We are the guests of the barrio ("neighbourhood" in Spanish) which is home for a few days of the activists from Lancaster a few of whom fed us so well at Matt's place. Each barrio sends a spokes-person (or two) to a daily meeting which seeks consensus solutions to the problems of keeping the village running smoothly and healthily. I rolled up to the meeting independently but found myself being the only attender who might vaguely be regarded as a representative of the Lancaster barrio. The strain of setting up the village and getting it started was clearly telling on those most deeply involved. I hope that enough volunteers for the various rosters are forth-coming as the village begins to fill with anarchists.
Most of the riders headed of towards Faslane Naval Base in anticipation of tomorrow's planned blockade. Being undecided as to the demerits (aside from that of its great cost) of the independent nuclear deterrent I had not intended to join the blockade and as it happens I have been feeling gradually more ill as the morning wears on. I am going to bed.
I cockily thought that I had escaped this infection by virtue of my great experience of rugged living. I spent over a day in my tent eating nothing and sipping a little water and I emerged rather tentatively but intent on making at least some contribution to village life.
Those rosters I mentioned are sadly bare so I put my name down for the gentle duty of wandering about the big field fostering tranquillity. Four hours in the warm sunshine ambling over the bumpy clay listening to the chatter on the the two-way radio is perfect convalescence for the recently poisoned. I responded to a request to hunt down one or two Canadian activists for an interview with CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). I found a willing interviewee called Lesley beavering away (as presumably Canadians do best) in the kitchen of the Highland barrio.
I bought a tasty vegan (not always an oxymoron) supper for the standard price from the village's central kitchen "The Anarchist's Teapot". All the kitchens charge 50 pence for breakfast, a pound for lunch and 1.50 pounds for supper.
Owing to the continuing paucity of volunteers I continued my "patrol" for a second 4 hour shift and was glad to be relieved by some press-ganged youngster at 11pm.
This is neither a familiar nor a comfortable situation but I did bring it upon myself.
I think we made a worthwhile contribution to yesterday's attempted blockade of G8 day one but we also made an unhelpful gesture to the image of the protests.
We had struggled through the police search lines which were imposed yesterday evening and escaped up into the hills in preparation for early action. (Even when it doesn't look like rain, I should never neglect to set up a proper cover for a camping spot, especially on so important an evening and when camping with a buddy.)
By 6am our little party of four were in Crieff waiting for others to ride into town. As we approached town one delegate to the conference sped past us with his police escort but later travellers were not so fortunate as a very effective blockade was established just as we reached the river. Five nervous-looking protesters were locked together through arm tubes and into a service duct on the bridge. For a few minutes until the police arrived to control the traffic, we four helped to stop vehicles from trying to cross the bridge. One local who was trying to catch a 'plane was so irate that he might well have run people down had the arrival of the police not been impressively quick.
Twenty-something cyclists assembled in the town from various soggy hiding-places but with so brave and effective a blockade on the only river crossing, a critical mass in the town seemed unnecessary. We set off toward the next river crossing rather haphazardly holding up non-local drivers when we could figure out who was who. The next crossing seemed to have been closed as effectively as had the bridge into Crieff so we turned towards Gleneagles itself.
By great good fortune or improbable police sympathy we were allowed to ride at walking pace for several miles up to the northern entrance to the conference compound and just as we began to slow-down that approach road a long caravan of media bods in cars and coaches drove up behind us. Better still we were permitted to block the entrance completely for some minutes before we were cordoned onto the roadside verge. Though most of the dour hacks ignored us some paid us and our message full attention and none could have completely failed to register our existence. What a publicity coup!
A later confrontation on our way home was less auspicious. Heady with delusions of power our younger, more fiery members chose to ignore police demands that we stop blocking both carriageways of the A9. Consequently we were all roughly pulled from our bikes by a swarm of Met officers and bundled to the side of the road where we were thoroughly searched and had our bicycles confiscated. Faced with the prospect of a very long walk home lugging our bags we were almost immediately rescued by two minibuses driven by protesters who are also staying on the Stirling site.
Critical Masses are a valuable form of protest against the congestion of cities and the proliferation of road traffic but they are a largely pointless nuisance on a long stretch of rural dual-carriageway. Perhaps, in the context of so important a protest venue as the G8 summit, any nuisance is worthwhile but I don't believe we helped the cause on this occasion.
We should be able to collect our bikes from Perth tomorrow morning, though I cannot imagine even the much more friendly Tayside police being particularly cooperative.