I took this photograph last April during a Saturday morning trundle through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. But I see this scene every day on my normal commute. Yes, I know, life can be hard at times!
Mind you, this stretch of bike path is NEVER this quiet on a week day. And because it’s shared with pedestrians and joggers and dog walkers you can’t really bomb along here lest you cause an accident!
I have to say I have seen some interesting sights while riding along here over the past couple of years.
- There was the man hitting golf balls, without any consideration for other park users. Thank goodness I wear a bicycle helmet!
- There was a giant gaggle of ducks crossing the road, in no hurry whatsoever and completely oblivious to the cyclists ringing their bells and making enough noise to wake the dead. (Actually, this happens on a semi-regular basis, but is more prevalent in Hyde Park.)
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Here’s a map (click to enlarge) of the park for those of you who like these things. Starting at the bottom, I follow the blue dotted line, trundle up the Broadwalk (my biggest hill of the route to work) and turn right onto the path that skirts the Round Pond and goes past the Bandstand, emerging at the gate near the Serpentine Gallery. Note that at this time of year, I can only cycle along here in the morning — the park closes at dusk so on my return journey I have to use the road. Guess you can’t have everything.
A glorious dawn this morning. The sun was a giant orange ball just hovering over the tops of the buildings when I set out at about 7.45am. I could see it rising through the skeletal tree branches in Kensington Gardens just beyond the glinting gold of the Albert Memorial. It didn’t look quite real.
Later, skirting along Upper Ground which runs alongside the river, the light blushed a spectacular coral-colour, turning all the white stucco buildings along the north side of the Thames a beautiful baby pink. Even the fat, white supports that hold up the London Eye were cast in a curious rose glow.
It was all over in a matter of minutes. But I would have missed the simply beauty of a London dawn had I decided not to ride the bike…you don’t normally see these things when you catch the tube!
Total distance: 12.48 miles | Ride time: 1hr, 16min and 05sec | Average speed: 10.28mph | Top speed: 19.7mph
Not having cycled on a regular basis for god knows how long (I’m too embarrassed to check), it seemed like I’d never been away when today I spied two regular cyclists that I used to see on my commute all the time.
The first is a well-built woman who always has her blonde hair tied back in a pony tail that peeks out from under her helmet and hangs down the back of her yellow fluoro jacket. She wears cycling glasses, too, which aren’t particularly stylish but obviously keep the wind out of her eyes. I couldn’t tell you what kind of bike she has, but I usually know it’s her simply by the two panniers that weigh it down on either side. I imagine they must be stuffed to the brim with heavy items because she cycles very slowly. In fact, this morning, she was cycling so slowly she almost got skittled by a bus she was trying to overtake. Sometimes I wish I didn’t see these things…
The second is a little man I have long called ‘the jockey’. I think I’ve been following this little grey haired, grey bearded chap for a year or more. He’s in his late 50s and couldn’t be much taller than 5’2", with short stumpy legs that barely seem able to reach the pedals. He looks like a little turtle with his knees all askew. But the most distinctive thing about him is the fact that I have never ever seen him stop at a light! He’s one of those cyclists that travels at one speed and one speed only and if that means he has to sail through every intersection regardless of the danger then so be it. Frustratingly, because he doesn’t stop for anything he always seems to beat me. On my route home tonight I passed him at least three times but he was still in front of me two miles down the road! I don’t know whether to admire his attitude or hurl abuse at him. They say the tortoise always wins the race — and I think, in this regard, they might be right!
Does anyone else see old familiars on their route? Or does this just happen to me? Sometimes I wonder if these regular commuters regard me as one of their old familiars. If they spied me today, I’m sure they were all thinking, wow, haven’t seen her in ages…
Total distance: 12.07 miles* | Ride time: 1hr, 14min and 25sec | Average speed: 10.25mph | Top speed: 18.8mph
* My bike computer wasn’t properly attached when I started off this morning — in fact it bounced off the road about 1/4 mile into my journey — so these figures are not entirely accurate.
Today’s commute by bike was my first of the year. In fact, it was my first ride since November 26! Terrible, I know.
The weather conditions were surprisingly mild for both my inward and outward journeys. I could actually feel a warm breeze on my face this morning.
While I took things fairly slowly, I was surprised that I wasn’t as out of condition as I expected. Mind you, I suspect the legs and tummy muscles will be very sore tomorrow!
Total distance: 12.51 miles | Ride time: 1hr, 19min and 02sec | Average speed: 9.99mph | Top speed: 18.6mph