Richmond Park, a Haven for Cyclist... and Deer

It’s Summer. It’s light, no need to set the alarm. Up at 05:15 and heading into Richmond Park before 05:43.

It’s Summer. It’s light, no need to set the alarm. Up at 05:15 and heading into Richmond Park before 05:43. Warm air and misty mornings. Only the pedestrian gates are open so I can probably get two laps in before the cars start to appear. Perfick!

Climbing up the short climb from Ham, I can already see some riders out and my pulse quickens. Giving chase so early in the ride won’t achieve anything, so a decision is made to warm-up by riding across the park to Penn Ponds, then bear right down the slight hill to Robin Hood Gate.

With a SW breeze, pushing along the flat towards the Golf Club at Roehampton Gate really is a breeze, but I still get overtaken by a couple of ‘commuter boys’ powering past with rucksacks on their way into London.  Up Sawyers Hill and a group of 4 of us has randomly formed, each taking their turn to lead out. Quick thanks are shouted as the group splits at Richmond Gate.

The Park is a brilliant training ground. A 7-mile circuit, which is either up or down, with the short, sharp hill at Kingston Gate ramping up to 13% getting me breathing hard. There is always a wheel to jump on or your wheel to get jumped on, and at whatever level you are, there’ll often be another rider to work with.  Most of my rides comprise 4 or 5 laps with my fastest ever average of 19.1 mph for 5 laps being attained on a perfectly still mid-Sumer evening.

Now it’s winter. The trees are bare. It’s dark ‘til 07.00. It can be icy and watch out for the deer wandering blindly into the road. It’s still great and there’s still plenty of action.

Winter, Spring, Summer or Autumn; Richmond Park, combined with forays into the Surrey Hills and trips across into Europe, provides, for me, the perfect training ground.

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