My last two rides: dry weather, lots of greenery and the odd animal or three

There's been so little rain in these parts recently that authorities reckon we're in the grips of a drought. Apparently it's been the driest March and April in decades.

Not that I've been in London much during those months, because I went to Ireland twice, then headed to the UAE for two weeks. When I did manage the odd cycle in between overseas trips the weather was very pleasant.

Apart from the odd bit of wind, the conditions have been pretty much perfect for cycling — and no more so than on my last two outings.

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After spending most of February trundling along a wind-swept, muddy Thames Path how lovely it is at the moment to swish through a leafy tunnel of greenery, so thick you can barely see the river it runs alongside.

I've learnt, however, that the insects — small flying midge-like things — love this greenery too. I might be vegetarian, but I've accidentally eaten my fair share of these creatures — and I even had one fly into my eye and refuse to leave on Friday. From now on, I'll be wearing sunglasses and keeping my mouth firmly closed!

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Richmond Park is looking particularly stunning at the moment. The unmown fields seem to have erupted into a sea of bracken fern, all fresh and green and lovely, where previously it was barren and brown.

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I've been fortunate to spy a few animals on my journeys too — and I'm not talking about the lycra louts!

Seeing cattle grazing in suburban London seems a bit surreal, but there you have it. These ones looked quite content, munching on lush grass in fields beneath Richmond Hill's Royal Star and Garter Home.

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And today I stopped to admire this deer grazing by the Tamsin Trail in Richmond Park. I was wary of him bolting across the path to join two females on the other side of the track. We nervously eyed each other for a few moments, before he decided to trot past me very quickly. Phew. Beautiful creatures, but you wouldn't want to go head-to-head with one.

 
Stats for Friday's ride:

Total distance: 20miles (32.18km) | Ride time: 1hr 51min and 07sec | Average speed: 10.8mph | Top speed: 20.4mph

Stats for today's ride:

Total distance: 17.47miles (28.10km) | Ride time: 1hr 41min and 53sec | Average speed: 10.2mph | Top speed: 21.6mph

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