Sometimes it takes me a long time to get started. Okay, I admit it always takes me a long time to get started. This trip is no exception. I flew into London a week ago with my bike packed in two cardboard boxes. The first thing on the agenda, however, was not unpacking, but hanging out with my great friend Osama (we were at school together in Nigeria) and sightseeing.

I’ve now seen some of the traditional sightseeing hotspots: Buckingham Palace, the London Eye; and some not so traditional: the Free Mason’s grand lodge, the oldest restaurant in London, and — of course — the site of the 1854 cholera epidemic during which the theory of disease transmission through contaminated water was first confirmed.

Once Osama returned to work I had time to spend re-assembling the bike and packing my gear. However, my departure date was delayed by the need to pick up some last minute items. Primarily due to the discovery that the handlebar bag I had used on previous trips was not compatible with my new handlebars. (I know I should have done a shakedown trip before leaving home.) Then I delayed another day due to Thursday being a day of constant rain. I’ll get plenty of rain down the road, but the first day seemed a little unnecessary.

Finally, I set out on the fully — heavily — loaded bike this morning. My route took me straight through the center of London and out to the southwest. I’m finally becoming accustomed to narrow streets, driving on the left, and the need to stop and check the map every 100 meters when the street changes names. Rather than try to camp in the suburbs I’ve blown my budget on a comfy bed.

Tomorrow it’s on to Portsmouth where I’ll catch the overnight ferry to St. Malo, France.