With training at a minimal during the week, weekends are vital to get the miles in the legs.
As I am cycling London to Paris with two ladies from work (Edda and Sophie) we planned a training ride around Richmond Park. We initially discussed cycling from London to Brighton, however it was decided that we need to train together in a ‘safe’ environment before we negotiate the open road.
Richmond Park is a great open space to prepare you for cycling on the open road, however it does have a couple of draw backs. Firstly, as it is a circular route, it is easy to get used to and mentally prepare your legs for the inclines, as opposed to on the open road, where you are never quite sure what is round the corner.
Another hindrance are the cars, pedestrians and deer that frequent the park. The deer are usually o.k., the problems start when dog owners forget to keep their errant dogs on leads. I have been in the park many a time when dogs have been let lose to chase the poor frightened deer (think the infamous Fenton the labrador clip on youtube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmpONxJ7JSw).
The cars and other traffic round the park are something entirely different. For example this weekend, I was about to start ascending one of the inclines (main one on the clockwise route), when a car decided to overtake just as the hill began – to park on the wrong side of the road. Now any cyclist who knows Richmond Park, will know that cyclists descending this hill pick up a fair bit of speed, I think 35mph is the average (sorry I know the speed limit is 20mph in Richmond Park, but even the cars don’t stick to this). Needless to say, just as he had parked to take photographs of the deer, two cyclists had to brake abruptly as another car was passing the parked vehicle and there was no space for them to pass. Fists were shaken and expletives shouted, I think the driver finally got the idea and moved on. However, when I hit the top of the hill the ejit hadn’t learnt his lesson and was doing the same thing on a blind bend – some people never learn!
Anyway, Edda and I managed three laps and decided to call it quits. On Sunday, I did the same, however this time I went with Gavin to meet with one of his friends. I went off on my own to do my three laps and I left Gavin with his friend. Only one incident this time, and that was with a female driver deciding to pull out on a roundabout where I had the right of way. Luckily there was a marathon being held in the park, and all of the marshalls ushering the runners over the road saw what was about to happen and shouted at the woman to stop!
We’ve organised the same for next Sunday, so I’ll update you as to the incidents we have on those laps!