Saturday morning and time to go cycling. We decided to pop by and see W's mum. Only thing is we live in north London and she lives on the Wiltshire / Dorset Borders. So we struck off for Paddington station and let the train take the strain as far as Reading. After a bit of faffing about food and the route we left around 10.15, had our first picnic lunch of the year on the very pleasant villiage green at Monxton (pictured) just before 2, and made it to Monkton Deverill for 6 - peddling our way through Berkshire, Hampshire and Wiltshire on our way.
Yesterday's ride had a definate military theme. We rode past Aldermaston, Burford and the huge Larkhill barracks, before hitting Salisbury plain - which seemed to stretch on forever. We also cycled past an awful lot of 'tanks crossing' signs but didn't run into any tanks. That probably wasn't a bad thing... Not something you come across much when cycling in London!
Yesterday was one of the longest day rides i've ever done, clocking in at just over 79 miles if you include the London bit. Which I do, cos I flipping well cycled it...
The route (kindly provided by googlemaps): Reading train station to Monkton Deveril via... Burghfield, padworth common, ashford hill, monxton, greatley, cholderton, bulford, larkhill, chitterne, Sutton veney, longbridge deveril.
The distance: 79.2 miles yesterday, 16 miles today
I learnt a very valuable lesson yesterday. If you're planning on doing an 80 mile bike ride, you really do need to leave the house before noon.
W and I set off from Finsbury Park, bound for the sunny south coast. W got as far as Surbiton and then had to head back - knee stopped play. I decided to head on but reality struck deep in the North Downs, and I realised I'd never make it in the light. Plus I was relying on the maps on my iPhone and the battery was clearly about to give up the ghost, so back to London it was.
Still, I had 57 miles of daffodil and cherry blossom filled, fabulous city and country riding taking in central and suburban London, a sunny lunch by the Thames, and the Surrey Hills part of the North Downs. It gave me some much needed hill practice. AND I didn't have to walk my bike up any of them! I'm yet to be convinced that I'm actually fit enough to cycle the end to end next month though...
Despite the fact that a general election is looming, londoners yesterday seemed much more preoccupied with the big Chelsea game - banners, scarfs and supporters tops abound. It was only when I hit rural Surrey that the campaign posters came out. Only for one party mind you, and not the one I'll be voting for!
When I was cycling my way around bits of New Zealand five years ago I loved cycling past houses in the country where people left fruit, veg and flowers by their mailboxes for passing traffic to stop and buy. The buying bit usually involved leaving a bit of cash in an 'honesty box'.
Then, when I came back and started cycle touring in England, I realised people did it in the countryside here too!
But it was only when I moved to N4 that I realised people do it in London as well. I pass this house on my way home everyday, and there's flowers or plants for sale on a regular basis. They ask for money through the letterbox rather than an honesty box, but I love that there's a little bit of countryside life lurking in zone two of London. And if only I'd have had £2 on me, I'd have bought some flowers as well. I took a picture instead!
Well, that wasn't quite my excuse for being late for work today, but late I was, nevertheless. The great thing about doing the late shift at work is that you don't have to be in until 11 am. The bad thing is that, if you go via horseguards parade, like I do, you sometimes get caught up by the horseguards. As they parade...
One of the many great things about cycling in London. 20 miles worth of top central London cycling today. Poppy + sunshine = almost unavoidable good mood.
It looks like the weather's going to be fabulous this weekend. Where shall I go cycling?
I've lived in London since 1998, and after one failed attempt to start cycling shortly after I moved here, I started exploring London by bike in 2003. I've cycle toured around England, France and New Zealand (it's very hilly there...) and I can't think of a better way to travel.