My first London cycle in three months

This time last week I was cycling in Australia surrounded by dairy cattle, native birds and the occasional wallaby.

Today I found myself face to face with a herd of baby deer.

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I was so excited to see them, I nearly fell off my bike. I quickly crossed the road, dug around for my camera phone and took a quick snap before they took off. But alas, they took absolutely no notice of me whatsoever. I probably could have given them a pat, they were so tame.

A little further along I saw a bigger herd, also babies, huddled in a protected spot away from the wind. And further still, a group of big stags sat in idle contemplation.

Now, obviously, wild deer don't walk the streets of London. These are resident in Richmond Park, which was the destination of today's cycle, my first since arriving back in the UK last Friday afternoon.

I headed out at around 10.45am and took my time cycling the 4 miles to the park. After cycling in traffic-free conditions for the past 7 weeks, it was a little bit of an adrenalin rush to suddenly be fighting for road space with buses, cars, taxis, vans and motorbikes.

I figured that once I got to the park, the traffic would ease off. Wrong!

I've never seen so much traffic in Richmond Park, and typically they were all going in the same anti-clockwise direction as me. Fortunately, there's a 20mph speed limit, so their presence didn't feel threatening.

To be honest, I was more worried about the lycra-clad road cyclists whizzing by at top speed, and dare I mention the wind? I haven't cycled in blustery, gusty, cyclone-type winds like that in a long time. They were so strong I could feel my bike being knocked out from underneath me. It didn't help that they were head winds.

This meant progress around the 7 mile circuit in the park was pretty slow. Mind you, I managed to get up the hills without getting off the bike, which is a first for me. In the past I have always had to walk the short but killer incline not far from Roehampton Gate.

Even so, my journey time was snail-like. A combination I think of jet-lag, getting re-acquainted with my bike (within minutes I could feel it causing a pain in my left flank and tension in my right shoulder — I now know this bike really doesn't fit me properly), dealing with road traffic, strong winds and lots of hills!

I took two small drink breaks during my journey and then called into the supermarket on the way home to buy some goodies for lunch.

I was back home at 12.45pm. Total distance cycled: roughly 16 miles.

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