Two weeks, two cycle rides — and lots of animal life

My plan to get back into the cycling habit isn't really taking off. I've managed to go on two longish rides — one last Wednesday and one today — so I guess that's better than nothing. But I do think I need to get a bit more serious — and stop looking for excuses not to ride.


Especially when I am so lucky to live within 5 miles of Richmond Park — the best place in London, by far, for leisure cycling. My heart sings every time I trundle through Roehampton Gate and a whole vista of greenery opens up in front of me.


At the moment the place is heaving with baby deer. I spied two little ones peacefully munching on grass underneath the trees near Richmond Gate — right by the shared pedestrian/cycle path.


And prior to this, as I carefully made my way down the steep hill not that far from Bog Gate (yes, delightful name, isn't it?), I spotted a herd of adult deer, including some males with impressive-looking antlers, huddled in the shelter of some low-lying trees.


Last week I actually spied two working shire horses pulling a mower across the open fields near Sheen Gate. I was so intrigued by this blast from the past, I had to look it up online when I got home. Apparently the Royal Parks use six working horses to cut grass during the summer months and chain harrow bridleways — not just in Richmond Park, but Hyde Park and other parks — because it's more environmentally friendly — and much quieter — than using modern fuel-hungry machinery.

Cycle ride made today:

Total distance: 15.55miles (25.10km) | Ride time: 1hr 28min and 59sec | Average speed: 10.5mph | Top speed: 20.8mph

Cycle ride made on Wednesday May 23:

Total distance: 19.78miles (31.82km) | Ride time: 1hr 51min and 28sec | Average speed: 10.6mph | Top speed: 21.2mph

Oh bicycle, remember me?


It's been so long since I've gone cycling I'm surprised I remembered how to do it. The one-month absence from the bike has been a combination of many things — bad weather, laziness and a trip away to Canada — but this week I decided I couldn't let any more time slip away. The weight is piling on and I don't want to lose my cycle fitness. So, on Wednesday afternoon after I'd completed a freelance commission, I dusted off the bike and trundled my way to Richmond Park.

It was a glorious cycle. Even though it was cool enough to wear longs, a cycling jacket and gloves, the sun was out and there was little or no breeze. Perfect conditions for cycling actually.

And despite all my time away from the bike, my fitness was up to speed. In fact, for much of the cycle I felt very strong in the legs and would have done an extra loop of the park if it were not for my fear that I might overdo things and regret it the next day.

It was lovely to be out and about in the open air, too. I love seeing how Nature comes alive at this time of year. All the deciduous trees are in leaf, the bracken fern is returning to the undergrowth and the grass is a lush, deep green. And Richmond Park is alive with baby deer.

Total distance: 15.10miles (24.29km) | Ride time: 1hr 24min and 41sec | Average speed: 10.6mph | Top speed: 21.1mph