Mild November weather, perfect for cycling

ParliamentSquare

Hard to believe it's late November and I'm only just donning my "proper" cycling longs — the fleecey Altura ones that have seen better days. (Note to self: must buy a couple of new pairs to see me through the winter.)

But it's still so mild, there's no need to wear fleecey tops just yet. In fact, I'm just wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt under my cycling jacket. And this evening, I was so toasty warm, despite the darkness and the damp roads, that I had to undo the zip on my jacket to let some cool air in!

I'm not complaining. It'll be winter for long enough — if it ever decides to arrive.

Note this photograph was taken last week while taking a stroll around Westminster, but this is the usual view I have every morning as I cycle through Parliament Square. No need to check my watch at this point; I just let the Big Ben clock face tell me the time!

Total distance: 10.72*miles (17.24km) | Ride time: 1hr, 14min and 08sec | Average speed: 8.6mph | Top speed: 18.2mph

* This doesn't sound right — it should be roughly 14 miles.

Back in the saddle after a three-week lay-off

Trees-in-Richmond-Park

I've been living the good life lately — eating out, drinking loads of alcohol, not doing much exercise — so is it any wonder I felt sluggish when I got back in the saddle for the first time after a three-week hiatus?

It felt good to be out and about though. The weather was certainly mild enough and I'm amazed to see that most of the trees are still adorned in their autumnal clothing, even at this late stage of the year. Cycling along the Thames tow path was like scooting through a long, leafy tunnel of gold — beautiful.

Richmond Park was similarly beautiful, although I admit that it took me a little while to truly appreciate it because I was feeling so knackered. I took a ten-minute rest about 6 miles into my journey just to recover from the sudden shock of doing cardiovascular exercise after such a long lay off. (This is the most time I've had away from the bike since I began cycling regularly last December.)

I seem to have got my second wind about 8 miles in and then it was smooth sailing — oops, pedalling — all the way!

Hardly a soul about, too, which was great — Richmond Park is a bit like that: it can make you feel as if you've truly escaped the hustle and bustle of London even though it's "just down the road" as it were.

Total distance: 14.80miles (23.8km) | Ride time: 1hr, 25min and 15sec | Average speed: 10.4mph | Top speed: 19.5mph

A 25 mile ride through the East Sussex countryside

A couple of weeks ago Mr London Cycling Diary and myself went to East Sussex for a week's rest and recreation. The rest element largely comprised reading books and going to the pub; the recreation element was a little more adventurous — we went on two long cycle rides.

In this post I'll write about our first cycle ride; I'll write about the second cycle ride in a separate post at a later date.

Both cycle rides were based on East Sussex County Council's Rye & Romney Marsh Circular Route Guide [download PDF] , a leaflet which we picked up by chance at the Tourist Information Centre in Rye.

On our first cycle — on November 1 — we opted for the shorter of the two rides. Beginning and ending in Camber Sands, where we were staying, the route took in Rye, Appledore and Lydd via Walland Marsh. The terrain was flat, the traffic pretty much non-existent and the weather pleasant, which made for comfortable cycling.

But the first long stretch — six miles between Rye and Appledore — was tough work, mainly because (1) we didn't know if we were going in the right direction (the signage in this part of the world does, occasionally, leave a lot to be desired); (2) it was a relatively long, straight A-road with little variation in scenery — in other words, it was pretty boring, and (3) typically, the only time we met traffic was when we hit the succession of S-bends, a couple of miles apart, that form this section of the route, which felt slightly dangerous, particularly if traffic was coming both ways.

Cycle-1-canal

But once we reached the town, found the turn off for Regional Cycle Route 11, trundled across the Royal Miltary Canal (above) and headed into the quiet lanes it was worth the effort.

Cycle-1-turkey-farm

We knew we were out in the sticks when we came across a turkey farm (above) — yes, that's likely to be your Christmas dinner running around. The birds all looked lovely and healthy, with free reign of a large field, and judging by the sound of them they were pretty happy too — or maybe they were just excited to see our bikes.

Cycle-1-bikes-and-church

ThomasBeckettChurch

A little further on we came across the 15th century church of St Thomas Becket (above), which is sometimes known as "the isolated church".

Cycle-1-church-and-sheep

It's actually slap bang in the middle of a sheep paddock. In fact, while we were parked up we managed to watch a farmer on a quad bike round up a flock of sheep with the help of a sheep dog. It was like having a front row seat to the World Sheep Dog Trials, but minus the annoying commentary.

Cycle-1-turf-farm

A little further on and we came upon possibly the greenest and lushest fields I've ever seen. They stretched into the distance and looked like the top of a giant billiard table. It was only later that we discovered it was Britain's largest (garden) turf farm.

Cycle-1-woolpackinn

After a somewhat hairy crossing of the A259 and a little bit of confusion about which direction to take, we came upon the Woolpack Inn, where we stopped for a quick drink — a pint of soda and lime for me, something more "heavy" for Mr London Cycling Diary — and a packet of crisps. Yes, we know how to refuel properly after about 17 miles of exercise… not.

Cycle-1-lanes

We then cycled through miles of lovely narrow lanes, some of which were lined with tall hedges, as we criss-crossed the flatlands of Romney Marsh.

Cycle-1-sign

While we followed the signage for National Cycle Route 2, it was Lydd's picturesque church tower, sitting on the horizon, which acted as a landmark guiding us towards home.

Cycle-1-route2

Once through the township of Lydd, we cycled along a traffic-free shared pedestrian cycle path that covers the five or so miles to the coast. Admittedly this was tough work: we were both tired after almost two hours of solid cycling and limited carbohydrate intake. The strong sea breeze and exposed nature of the track didn't help.

Cycle-1-seawall

But once we hit the coast a mile or so out of Camber Sands, how could we not feel joyful cycling along the top of the sea wall. It was wonderful!

It was even more wonderful when we stopped at a cafe at the end of our route for a feed of cheese toasties, chips and ginger beer!

Total distance: 25.93miles (41.72km) | Ride time: 2hr, 13min and 56sec | Average speed: 11.6mph | Top speed: 18.2mph