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Imagine the Top Gear gang, imagine a challenge, imagine London. Try imagining four guys getting from one side of London to the other quickest, as fast as possible. How you might ask, seeing as Top Gear is a TV show around cars.

Well, of course, you have your standard SUV on the plate in this challenge, but then there are other methods of getting from A to B than using a car. In this challenge, we have to have good old bicycles, and of course what most cities can boast, good public transportation. The ace up the sleeve in this challenge though is a boat. We start off in West London, where the final destination is London Airport.

The team is as I said equipped with each transportation method. James May turned up in the massively large Mercedes GL500, which boasts the staggering measures of 17ft long and 6.5ft, which was humorously crowned the King of Chelsea tractors. Richard Hammond on the other hand is using a top-of-the-line, carbon fibre beast bicycle worth £1700.

Indeed a nice piece of work, and worth a glance on its own, but for goodness sake, this is a car show! Then we have The Stig, the infamous tame test driver of Top Gear. Usually, The Stig is known to make the best out of any car as he puts them to the test on the Top Gear test track. This time around though, he’s equipped with the Oyster card, meaning he’s got full access to London’s public transportation.

The team tried to get a comment on his reactions, but as always The Stig remained silent. Then finally we have Mr Jeremy Clarkson himself, this time not driving on the tarmac but on the Thames itself in a powerboat, with a massive 225bhp engine.

Anyone who’s ever been to London knows that the traffic there is a killer, and even worse during rush hour as all the commuters are trying to get to work, so what time wouldn’t be more obvious to have such a test than during rush hour? Going through what we have here, a car, a bicycle, a man on public transportation and a man on a speedboat, what would you think would be the obvious winner?

My first thought was either public transportation or the speed boat. The public transportation grid in London is very good, a prime example of how public transport can be done if done the right way. Then we have the matter of the speedboat. With its phenomenal specifications and very modest traffic on the Thames, you would think it would have a walk in the park winning this challenge.

But many people disregard the fact that in urban areas and naval areas with a high traffic density, even sea-going vessels have to obey certain speed regulations, which in effect means that Mr Clarkson has a handicap most of the way.

The traffic is of course heavy during this early morning London hours, and the car is lagging behind like a fat cow with one leg missing. Admittedly, even though the public transportation system in London is good, you still have to walk from traffic point to traffic point, and walking is as we all know, not that fast. And there is no direct connection from West London to London airport, which means that there’ll be plenty of stops along the way.

The boat is not even close to unleashing its full potential, as it’s slowly making its way up the Thames. That leaves us the bike, which is small yet very fast considering how fast the others are going. Not only is it small and fast, but it’s flexible. Hammond has to take the same route as May, but being a much smaller and more flexible vehicle, it can manoeuvre through traffic like a hot knife through butter.

Halfway to London airport, Mr Hammond has a good lead. He’s been able to squeeze through whatever obstacles on his path with ease, while Mr May has been banging his head through the monster of rush hour. The Stig on the other hand is starting to show signs of displease, as he’s moving about in a vehicle not going fast enough and a vehicle he has no control over. Mr Clarkson though has been moving slowly upstream but is closing up to the marker where speed restrictions are lifted.

Once he reaches that point, he can unleash the monstrosity of an engine he has attached to his speedboat to really gain on the others. Who will arrive first? The tension is building in this yet rather open race. Mr May has passed Piccadilly Circus, which means most of the rush hour traffic is now behind him and The Stig is now inside the metro with better routes to London Airport. Everyone is slowly gaining on Mr Hammond, who is breaking a lot of sweat trying to keep the pace up.

Again, who will it be?

Mr Clarkson pulls his speedboat up to the docks just outside London Airport, and can barely wait to get onto land and get to the check-in counter. I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen that old bastard make a run on the telly, and as he makes it to the counter he’s in his usual manner rather cocky and sure of himself stating that he’s won the challenge. To his dismay and surprise, the check-in counter clerk informs him that another one from his group has already checked in without stating who. To Mr Clarkson’s big surprise, it’s neither The Stig coming by public transportation nor Mr May coming by his Mercedes SUV. No, it’s Mr Hammond with his £1700 bicycle.

A £1700 bicycle beats an expensive car, a rather steep and monstrous speedboat and a world-known public transportation system! This came as a rather big surprise to not only me but the Top Gear team who stated that this might be the end of Top Gear as we know it. They later stated that the whole video article was a hoax and that the bicycle never won.

It never even made it to the airport, and the car of course won beating both The Stig and the speedboat. It would be absolutely dead wrong that a car is beaten in a car show, that’s just preposterous!

Ah well, I’m glad I still have my bike. I’ll bring it with me the next time I go to London. And not only that, it’s environmentally friendly as well.

Who needs massive amounts of horsepower, when you can utilize the power of your own body?

By Jostein Elvaker Haande

"A free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular" - Adlai Stevenson

2 thoughts on “Top Gear – London challenge”
  1. How I wish the Top Gear London challenge really happened. With London’s heavy traffic, I’m sure the bike will win, most of all, environmentally wise, the bike is the winning-est.

  2. Oh well, really interesting story, I was almost convinced that the bike really won. Anyway, you made a point there. Although its not everyone’s top pick when it come to rides or vehicles, using a bicycle to go to work or school is possible under favorable weather conditions.

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