A 20-mile cycle taking in Richmond Park — twice

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The freelance life means I sometimes have weeks where I have so much to do I don't know if I am coming or going, and other weeks where I have nothing scheduled. This week I'm at a completely loose end, so what better way to make the most of a sunny morning than going on a quick cycle?

Well, I thought I was going to go on a quick cycle. But then I got to Richmond Park and on a whim I decided to exit out of Sheen Gate to see where it would take me. It took me to Mortlake, along Cycle Route 4 and a very busy high street, and then I had the option of heading back home via Barnes, or going on to Kew and Richmond along the river. I chose the latter.

This meant what could have been a fairly comfortable (and quick) 8 or 9 mile cycle turned into more than twice that!

But it was lovely out. I followed the Thames path, which is as bumpy as hell in the stretch between Kew Gardens and Richmond, and then had a hairy 100yd experience slipping and sliding through an inch of mud on cobblestones near the Richmond waterfront. I suspect there was a rather high tide last night, because the waterfront in Richmond, right through until Ham, was littered with flotsam and jetsam and in the unsurfaced parts there was plenty of sticky, slippy river mud, too.

I ended up cycling to Ham House, then heading inland to Richmond Park again  — my second time in the same morning — via Ham Gate. Then I cut right through the middle of the park and exited at Roehampton Gate, before heading home via Barnes. This meant I had effectively cycled one giant 20 mile loop!

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As an aside, I was delighted to see many of the trees are in bud (see above) — it won't be long before I'm cycling through leafy green tunnels again.

Total distance: 20.75miles (33.38km) | Ride time: 1hr 59min and 56sec | Average speed: 10.3mph | Top speed: 21.1mph

I want to ‘Go with Oh’ to Barcelona

One of the things I love most about cycling is the way it lets you experience a place in a way that is so completely different to any other form of transport. On the back of a bike, with the wind in your hair and the sun in your face, you get to see things you might normally miss in a car or on a bus. Everything feels more real and the adrenalin buzz, if you're fighting for road space with other vehicles, makes you feel more alive.

While this blog largely details my exploits crossing London by bike, in recent years I have had the good fortune to cycle in Australia, China, East Sussex and New York. It is the cycle trips that I remember most from my travels, probably because there's no better way to experience a new place firsthand than by pedalling the streets and seeing where you might end up.

One place I'd love to see by bike is Barcelona. I'd either hire a bike from a company for the duration of my stay or try the city's bicing scheme (along the lines of London's 'Boris bikes'). And then I'd hit the road to see landmarks associated with five of Barcelona's most famous residents:

1. The architect Antonio Gaudi's Casa Milà (La Pedrera), Casa Batlló, Crypt of the Church of Colònia Güell and his unfinished masterpiece Sagrada Familia. And, provided I could manage the hill, I'd love to see Parc Guell.

2. The architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner's two most famous designs, Hospital de Sant Pau and Palau de la Música Catalana, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

3. Museu Picasso, the museum housing the works of artist Pablo Picasso. I believe that the five adjoining medieval buildings that comprise the museum are worth a look for the architecture alone.

4. The Dali Museum, which celebrates the work of artist Salvador Dali. It's based in the coastal town of Figueres, Dali's birthplace, so I might have to catch the train there first, then cycle around, but I think my effort would be rewarded.

5. The Miró Museum, which celebrates the work of artist Joan Miró. This is located in the Parc de Montjuïc area, which would be also be fun to explore by bike.

Just writing about this stuff makes me want to pack my suitcase and fly out to Spain! Have you visited Barcelona before or gone cycling there? What attractions would you recommend?

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BadgeThis post is my entry in a blogger competition being run by www.GowithOh.com to win a month's accommodation in four cities across Europe. To find out more visit the competition page. Or to win one of four fantastic prizes, like the company's Facebook competition page.