I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I was obsessed, but recently I have taken to riding circuits around Richmond Park whenever I think I can spare the time. I’ve posted before that it is effectively a microcosm of the British landscape, although I may not have put it in such eloquent terms, and I guess that is the secret to the joy I find riding it.
I find myself woken by the alarm a mere six hours after retiring. The night before I had gone to Tooting Folk (Which needs a post of its own) I dressed and ate a banana and peanut butter sandwich before hitting the ride to the park. (The actual route I took is largely recorded on the bike to bestival website here)
We met at the cafe nearest Roehampton Gate. Warren was grinning as usual and Dan had nipped off for a pee in the bushes. These two facts are almost entirely unrelated. Dan’s friend would be possibly joining us later but for now the plan was ... A couple of laps then some (2nd) breakfast.
We set off at a fair old trot as the park wasn’t yet busy and I was mildly disconcerted to hear Dan and Warren abe to keep up a tidy chat behind me on the flats as we covered the first stretch of tarmac. As we hit the “Hill that beat me” for the first time I was surprised to notice that we were about 2/3 of the way up before they stopped chatting to gasp for air. I hit the crest with my heart pounding and my lungs rasping to get in the air I needed to not fall off.
Pleased to have made it I put my foot down a bit to get some speed up while the going was easy. After some gently undulating beautifully flat tarmac I heard my name being called. I panicked. Had something fallen off of my bike? No. Dan explained that halfway round lap 1, Warren had deided to stop for a loo break. This involves a steep descent (and climb back out) towards Ham gate.
The plan had been to ride uninterrupted for the 20km that 2 laps takes as living in the city you very rarely get to ride more than 1 or 2km without a pause for lights or a turning.
We decided to ride the next 1 ½ laps without a break then stop for breakfast.
On the next lap Dan and I decided we did in fact need the loo quite desperately so down we went and back up again. So much for continuous riding.
I waited with the bikes whilst Dan and Warren went in to get breakfast. Ever the Gentlemen they decided to get mine for me and I was tucking into double fried egg baguette and flat white within minutes. At this point we tallied up that we were about 39-40 km into the days riding and it was about 10 O’clock
Dan’s friend arrived at this point, Who I think was called Tim. He was off to Swededn to do a cycle tour the following week and was getting some practice in. This time we set off as a four with Warren and I a little sluggish for having eaten enormous greasy breakfasts.
This time we got round a whole lap but had to stop to check the front wheel of Dan’s bike and my mudguard. On the next lap we all needed the loo again. Setting off after the final loo break I marvelled at the way in which the laps got progressively harder, but the steep climb near the start got progressively easier.
At that point a herd of deer rushed over the road in front of Warren. I got there as the second batch were storming across the road, and sailed past him.
I followed dan’s lead on the way home and we pootled through the back of Covent Garden, Bloomsberry and Islington before parting at the edge of Stoke Newington.
I got back to discover that Sophie and friends were all at London Fields about to have a barbeque. I was too tired at that point so I fed and watered myself and watched a triathlon.
After a bit I got back on the bike and went to join them.
Hackney to Richmond 21.7km
4 laps of Richmond Park 40.4km
Richmond to Hackney 22km
Round trip to London fields 8.4km
92Km over the day, or just under half the Dun Run distance!
The following day I noticed on facebook that Vera and David had been in Richmond park about the same time we were. Great minds and all that...