A perfect afternoon for cycling

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Really gorgeous weather today, perfect for cycling. Sun in the sky, no wind and only a slight chill in the air.

I cycled from Hammersmith to Barnes, along the tow path, surprised at how dry and rock hard the surface was after weeks of slipping and sliding through mud.

Once in Barnes, I took the back streets into Richmond Park. I spent the first few hundred yards fighting it out with 7-year-old schoolboys mid-way through a run of some sort.

I'd spotted them as soon as I cycled through Roehampton Gate, a stream of ant-like creatures moving across the green fields in the distance and emerging onto the Tamsin path, doing a sharp 90 degree turn and then stumbling up the path in a daze of exhaustion. The only mite who seemed to have any energy left was the little chap who spied me slowly inching my way around them and dared me to a race!

Once I got past the kids, it was easy going in terms of other pedestrians and cyclists. There seemed to be very few about and there were times when I felt like I had the entire park to myself.

I did one-and-a-half circuits of the park, feeling quite strong and energised throughout. I stopped at the 10-mile mark for a muesli bar and a drink, which I'd brought along with me, and then headed back home via the main roads, rather than the river, so that I could call in at the organic butcher for tonight's dinner!

Total distance: 20.75miles (33.38km) | Ride time: 1hr 55min and 35sec | Average speed: 10.7mph | Top speed: 23mph

A little bit of road rage

Some days you wonder why you bothered getting on the bike.

Today I just didn't seem to have any energy. I was tired and lethargic for at least 50 per cent of the ride, almost as if I didn't have any power in my legs.

And then, to top things off, I had my first dose of road rage since almost getting run off the road by a van circa 2005.

I was only a mile from home when it happened. A woman in a little hatchback was double-parked near a park. I sat behind her for a few seconds, just to gauge the situation, but it was clear she was having an animated conversation with the passenger sitting alongside her, so I pulled out to overtake her.

You guessed it. She decided to pull out at the same time. Without indicating. Without checking her mirrors. And nearly hitting me in the process.

I managed to catch up with her at the next set of traffic lights. As you can imagine I was a bit angry, so I hammered on her passenger window and told her that she needed to look out for bikes.

To be honest, I wasn't feeling particularly rational and didn't want to get into a conversation about it. I just sat in front of her bonnet until the traffic lights turned green. I hoped that seeing me sitting there might stick in her memory for a bit, so that next time she's on the road she'll remember to keep her eye out for cyclists. But I won't hold my breath.

Total distance: 17.07miles (27.3km) | Ride time: 1hr 37min and 27sec | Average speed: 10.5mph | Top speed: 21.5mph

Cycling past a sea of golden daffodils

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I've been away in Ireland, so haven't had a chance to do any cycling for a week or so. Needless to say, I was itching to get back on the bike, and with such a perfectly lovely day awaiting me it didn't take much motivation to dig my Trek out of storage and go for a quick spin around Hyde Park.

During my 12-day absence, London has transformed itself into an amazing sea of golden daffodils. Hyde Park is awash with them, particularly in the stretch that runs parallel to Park Lane, where I fired off the above snap on my BlackBerry. Glorious.

Total distance: 10.83miles (17.4km) | Ride time: 1hr and 54sec | Average speed: 10.6mph | Top speed: 18.5mph

40mph wind gusts do not make for a good cycle

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At the risk of this blog turning into a regular weather report, today's conditions were not particularly conducive to a leisurely cycle. It was far too windy — although I didn't know that until I was out and about. (It's only now, looking at Metcheck.com, that I see the wind was gusting at 40mph at the time I was on the bike.)

I had initially planned to do two quick loops of Hyde Park early this afternoon, but I ended up cutting it short because of the blustery conditions. Several times I was nearly blown sideways off my bike. If there is one thing I can't stand it is wind, or, to be more precise, gusts of wind.

Give me rain, give me hail, give me snow, but NEVER give me wind!

In the end I just did one loop of the park, before stopping off at Kensington High Street to do some shopping — all kitted out, I might add, in cycling trousers, raspberry cycling jacket and my helmet. No one batted an eyelid.

Total distance: 8.25miles (13.3km) | Ride time: 47min and 46sec | Average speed: 10.3mph | Top speed: 20.5mph

A quick cycle to beat the rain

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When I saw this cloud hovering over the Serpentine, in Hyde Park, a little before 3pm today, I thought I should probably race home before I got caught in a downpour.

I'd only headed out to visit the post office (I humped 10 paperback books in my backpack, all parcelled up and ready to be dispatched across the world, courtesy of the World Book Night competition I hosted on my book blog), but I figured it would be the waste of a good cycling opportunity if I didn't go for at least one little trundle around Hyde Park.

I wasn't really dressed for cycling (or the conditions) and was wearing jeans tucked into my socks to prevent any nasty accidents with my chain. I did one lazy loop (the head wind going up the Broad Walk was horrendous) and was thinking about doing a second, when I spied the cloud above and felt the imminent threat of rain.

By the time I'd made my escape route, via Kensington High Street, it was starting to spit and the sky turned a nasty shade of black.

"Phew, got home just in time," I thought, as I locked my bike away and headed indoors for a cuppa. No sooner had I put the kettle on than the sun was shining full blast through the living room windows as if it was a glorious summers day. How bloody typical.

Total distance: 8.29miles (13.3km) | Ride time: 47min and 25sec | Average speed: 10.5mph | Top speed: 21mph

A perfect day for a bicycle ride

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Blue sky, sunshine, little or no wind and a riot of yellow daffodils in bloom.

What more could you ask for in terms of the perfect day for a bicycle ride?

Well, I'd probably request a little more warmth in the air (I was wearing three layers of clothing to keep snug), but it was certainly very pleasant conditions for cycling around Richmond Park.

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I had two stops during my 22-mile journey. The first was at this gorgeous little pond, near Richmond Gate, where I munched on a muesli bar in the sun, and the second, towards the end of my journey, at Roehampton Gate cafe, for coffee and carrot cake.

I did one entire circuit of the park, following the Tamsin Trail, which is a shared pathway for cyclists and pedestrians. It's easier cycling along here than on the road proper, because there's fewer hills, and you don't have to worry about the road cyclists trying to run you over either!

After one complete circuit — Roehampton Gate to Roehampton Gate — I did a half-circuit, turning off at Ham Gate to follow National Route 4 which cuts right through the middle of the park.

Next time, if the weather is as lovely as it was today, I might head out with a book in my pocket: it would have been brilliant to sit in the sun to do a spot of reading, before cycling home again.

Total distance: 22.41miles (36km) | Ride time: 2hr, 9min and 2sec | Average speed: 10.4mph | Top speed: 20.9mph

An urban mud-free cycle through London’s parks and city streets!

IMG01146-20110304-1449 I had just one objective for today's cycle: stay away from the mud. Which could really only mean one thing: urban cycling.

With no real route planned in advance, I took to the streets and headed to Hyde Park. It was such a lovely day that I decided to keep on cycling into town.

I'd forgotten about the tourists wandering all over the cycle path on Constitution Hill, but no bother. I wasn't in any rush — and most of them were very polite, uttering profuse apologies in foreign accents, when I rang my bell.

Once I hit Trafalgar Square I took a sharp left and headed towards Piccadilly, stopping off at Lower Regent Street for some lunch — half a baguette and a flat white from Pret.

Then I pottered around some of the side streets, including St James' Square, before back tracking and making my way, once again, to Hyde Park.

The sun was in full force — although the air had a sharp bite to it — and there was a real feeling that spring was in the air. So many people were out and about, on foot, on bike and on roller blades, making the most of the fine weather.

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I cycled up the Broad Walk (see above), which takes you directly from Queen Elizabeth Gate (near Hyde Park Corner) in the south, to Speaker's Corner in the north. I love this avenue of trees. It looks amazing in summer — a gorgeously green, leafy tunnel — but I love it in winter, too, because you get to see the shape of the tree trunks and branches, unadorned by leaves but accentuated by a fine coating of lime-green moss.

I ended up doing two laps of the park, including an experimental traverse on a newly laid cycle path that takes you right past the Old Police House. (I don't know how many times I've visited Hyde Park over the years, but I never realised it has its own police station slap bang in the heart of the park.)

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From there, I then cycled through Kensington Gardens and was delighted to see these daffodils in full bloom. I guess that can only mean one thing: spring is not far away.

And then it was off down Kensington High Street, stopping off for a quick grocery shop in Waitrose, before making it back home in one piece — and entirely mud free!

Total distance: 14.94miles (24km) | Ride time: 1hr, 28min and 10sec | Average speed: 10.1mph | Top speed: 18.9mph