Why you should always make sure the pockets in your cycle shorts are zipped up

Today's cycle turned into a bit of a panic-stricken adventure.

The first five miles was lovely and sedate. The sun was shining. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Everything was right with the world.

Then I arrived at Richmond Park and stopped to take a photograph on my camera phone. But where was my phone? Surely I'd put it in my left-hand pocket? Or did I leave it at home? No, I remember it was in my pocket because I had to put my house keys in my other pocket. A panicked tap down of every pocket on my person then ensued.

No phone.

My first thought was to simply turn around, retrace my route and scan the road for the phone that had obviously fallen out of my pocket along the way.

But then I figured if it had fallen out it had probably been run over by a car or had bounced into the undergrowth, so rushing back wasn't going to solve anything. I ended up doing a quick scoot around the park (about three miles) before cycling back home following my exact route (instead of doing my usual loop). I thought I had discovered it along the tow path, opposite Chiswick Pier, but when I turned over the black object it turned out to be an ID card holder.

When I got home I decided to call my mobile number using the landline on the off chance that someone might pick up. It rang out. I imagined the phone was probably lying in the bushy undergrowth by the side of the river, where no one would ever hear it. But then the landline rang and it turned out to be a chap called Sam who had found my phone on the cycle path along Priory Lane.

I didn't know it at the time, but he phoned a very old number in my contacts marked "work" in an effort to locate me. He also phoned one of my friends and left a voice message for her to say he'd found a phone and was looking for the owner.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I arranged to meet him in Barnes. He gave me my phone, I gave him £20 as a token of my appreciation.

He was just a kid really, probably not more than 17 years old, but was very well spoken with impeccable manners. When you hear so much bad stuff about the world and the horrid people in it who do horrid things to other people, it was lovely to meet a good-hearted person who knew the right thing to do and went out of his way to return a phone he'd just happened to find while he was out cycling.

Thank you, Sam, you made my day — and restored my faith in the human race.

Next time I'll remember to keep my pockets zipped up!

Total distance: 18.09miles (29.10km) | Ride time: 1hr 46min and 20sec | Average speed: 10.2mph | Top speed: 20.3mph

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A cycle through the cherry blossom streets

Cherry-blossomToday I did a quick lunch-time cycle around the streets of Barnes and Fulham, taking in the Thames tow path and crossing the river at Hammersmith Bridge at one end and Putney Bridge at the other.

It was another fine sunny day for cycling. I didn't see many fellow cyclists on my travels but I certainly saw a lot of women pushing babies in prams, and, at Fulham Palace, where workers have been busy regenerating the park and playground area, there were children everywhere. Some of the new facilities, including a mini skateboard park, have been opened — it all looks great, but I hope they remember to reinstate the cycle lane which seems to have been subsumed by the construction work in recent months.

And I have to say that the residential streets of Fulham, which aren't the most attractive, look lovely right now: they're all lined by cherry blossom trees, which are in full bloom. Some streets are white, some are pink. Next time I'll remember to bring my camera.

Total distance: 6.49miles (10.44km) | Ride time: 40min and 04sec | Average speed: 9.7mph | Top speed: 17.9mph

A lovely day for a cycle

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On the weekend it felt like spring had finally arrived. Today, with the temperatures in the early 20s, it felt like summer had come early.

I took a longish lunch-time break from my freelance editing work to go for a quickish scoot around Richmond Park. It was perfect weather for cycling. The sun was out, the sky was blue and there was a gentle breeze.

For the first time this year I didn't have to bother with layers. I didn't even wear a cycling jacket; I just wore a t-shirt.

That turned out to be a lot more than a lot of other people were wearing in the park — I saw far too many overweight men walking about with their man boobs and their beer guts fully exposed. If a woman did that they'd be arrested! Cover it up, please!

Total distance: 15.36miles (24.70km) | Ride time: 1hr 26min and 01sec | Average speed: 10.7mph | Top speed: 22.8mph

The first ride of spring

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One of the advantages of doing freelance editing work at home is that I can take 90 minutes out of my day and go for a cycle without feeling guilty. I can simply make up the time later.

So, at 11.30-ish I donned my cycling kit and headed to Richmond Park.

Now that spring is officially here the weather has turned glorious and sunny. It was far too warm for me to wear my cycling jacket and my gloves, but I didn't realise that until two or three miles into my cycle. Oh well.

It was lovely to be out and about in the park — there are baby deer everywhere!

Total distance: 15.32miles (24.70km) | Ride time: 1hr 26min and 20sec | Average speed: 10.6mph | Top speed: 21.8mph

Back on the bike: riding past the river, a horse and some toads!

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It's been almost four weeks since I last got on my bike. That's the problem when you fall out of a habit; it's so hard to get back into it again.

But with the sun shining, a sense of spring in the air and a free morning to myself I thought it was now or never to get back into the swing of things.

I dragged my poor old neglected bike out of storage, checked the tyres and brakes, and then headed to my old haunt — Richmond Park. I went via the Thames Tow Path (see above), cycling through Barnes, Kew and Richmond, before turning off at Ham House and making my way to the park via Ham Gate.

The tow path was rock hard the entire way — I had expected it to be very muddy (as it was this time last year) — and it was only slightly slippery near Petersham Meadows where the Thames floods regularly.

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Near Ham House I stopped to admire this horse, which was right up against the fence and patient enough to let me give his nose a rub!

When I got my phone out of my pocket to take his photograph he got a little bit excited — I suspect he thought I was going to give him something to eat. I felt bad to disappoint him.

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And then, just near Ham Gate, I spotted this hilarious road sign. (I showed it to my Other Half this evening and he thought it was taken in Queensland!)

I went looking for a volunteer to talk to (to find out more about the toads), but couldn't see anyone around, so I suspect they only patrol the road at night when the creatures are on the move!

Once in the park I headed straight through the middle, along National Route 4, and stopped for a coffee and a muffin at the little van at Pen Ponds carpark, before exiting via Roehampton Gate and making my way back home on the roads through Barnes and Hammersmith.

 

Total distance: 19.07miles (30.57km) | Ride time: 1hr 49min and 59sec | Average speed: 10.4mph | Top speed: 19.1mph