After a couple of days slobbing around, eating and drinking, sleeping in and watching TV and DVDs, it was time to venture into the great outdoors for a bit of fresh air and exercise. So, with bikes at the ready, we headed to the Wimbledon Tea Rooms, via Richmond Park, for a late lunch.
The getting to Richmond Park bit was fine — I swear I could do it in my sleep, although it might not be wise on the back of a bicycle — but the finding the tea rooms was a little more tricky. In the past, I've gone cross-country, via Wimbledon Common, but with mixed success: the paths here are too rough and ready unless you're on a proper mountain bike.
Today we opted to cycle along the A3. There's a shared pedestrian/cycle path completely separate from the motor traffic, but the noise of the road didn't make for a pleasant, nor peaceful experience.
As soon as we could, we crossed over to the common via a subway near Putney Vale Cemetery. Unfortunately, we had to walk the bikes for a mile or more, because cycling is prohibited along the paths in this section of the park. Not that it mattered — even if we could have cycled it would have been too wet and muddy for my bike to handle.
Eventually we reached Queensmere, which is an attractive man-made pond just a stone's throw — or quite a steep climb away — from the tea rooms. (We didn't know this at the time — it was kind of a fluke. To be honest, the common is so massive and so forest-like, it would not take much to get totally lost.)
According to the Wimbledon and Putney Commons website, before the pond was created, the area "acted as the focal point on the Commons for a number of duels until, in 1838, a man was shot dead and thereafter duelling was prohibited". The things you learn!
Anyway, after our delicious lunch of baguettes and chips, we made our return journey via main roads and suburban back streets in a race against the dying light. Typically, I hadn't bothered bringing any lights with me and I was worried it would get dark before we got home. But we needn't have worried: we were back in the door just before 3pm, a little over two-and-a-half hours since we had set off. It was a fine way to spend an afternoon on a dry — and mild — winter's afternoon in December.
Total distance: 13.76miles (22.47km) | Ride time: 1hr 24min and 08sec | Average speed: 9.8mph | Top speed: 20.2mph