April saw the start of my cycling challenge and I have been building up the distance cycling around London. The original goal was to cycle 600km, but after the first week I upped the goal to 800km because I got such a great start🚴♂️ .
I wanted to share some of the routes with you in case you fancy or get the chance to try them out. For readers not based in London, these are great routes to try when visiting in London. You get to see different parts of London and get off the well-beaten tourist path.
You can either hire a Santander bike for the more central rides or look into hiring a bike for the day. If you use the Santander, it is £2 for 24 hours. However, if you go over half an hour in one go, they will charge you extra. How to get around this? Before your half an hour is up, dock your bike for a minute or two at a docking station and take it out again. This way your half an hour starts again.
I also wanted to share them to show how we are BEGINNING to prepare our bodies for our ride across Europe. I know there has been very little about cycling over the winter months. Probably so little to get people wondering if we’re really doing it or not. But that is changing now that restrictions are lifting and we’re loving being able to venture further on the bikes.
The ‘Three Hills’ Challenge
This was the first ride of my cycling month and the first ride longer than 10km since way before Christmas. My initial idea was to ride through Camden to Highgate and back, but it ended up longer and with more climbing than planned.
My route took me up to Trafalgar Square and then along Charing Cross Road to Euston Road and over. The West End was still so quiet. It was the quietest the part of my route since not much was open there yet. After crossing Euston Road, I rode up to Camden.
Once I got there, I fancied riding along Camden High Street to see what was going on there. The answer: not much. It was almost as quiet as the West End. Made me miss the crazy old days in Camden, especially on market days and the crowds. Although no crowds and hardly any cars definitely made the riding easier.
After Camden, I hit the first climb of the ride: Haverstock Hill.
It wasn’t too bad, and I got all the way to the top 💪.
I can’t say the same about Highgate Hill, which I tackled via Kentish Town. This time it defeated me, next time I’m determined it won’t.
The final hill on the route was Primrose Hill. I ended up there by accident when I took a wrong turn instead of going round Regent’s Park 🤦♀️😂. From there, I headed home via Marylebone and Mayfair and got home, absolutely knackered but happy after 41 kilometers.
I wouldn’t recommend this route to absolute beginners, because of the climbibg. Also the traffic in Highgate is horrid, so you have to be confident on your bike to tackle that.
Cycling around London from East End to West End
Since it was Good Friday, Justin was off work, too, and we headed out together. We didn’t have an actual plan other than heading to Tower Bridge first.
Cycling around London has improved in the recent years because they have created better cycling routes. We followed one of them from Battersea all the way to Tower Bridge on the south side of the river.
We crossed Tower Bridge and headed into the City. If West End was quiet, then the City was a ghost town. Amazingly, we found a little coffee stand that was open at the old Spitalfields Market where we stopped to get Justin a coffee.
It looks like they have made the Market into another one of those places where you can have a drink and get food from various different stalls. We are going back when things reopen, as it looked really nice.
We then headed to the proper East End: Hackney and Dalston.
In all my years, I have never been to Hackney and to Dalston only once when we went to a ‘cool’ bar over there with a friend. I enjoyed visiting parts of London that were new to me, especially Dalston Market. A proper old school London market.
From the East End, we headed towards the West End and finally home after 35 kilometres.
This route is nice for beginners and more experienced riders. It is mostly flat and covered with cycle routes to make navigating the roads easier and safer.
Laps around Hyde Park
On Saturday, I headed out on my own. Justin wanted to take his mountain bike for an outing in Richmond where they have tracks for them. Having done two long rides already after not riding much through the winter, I wanted an easier ride.
Hyde Park is great for that. I know I have already written about riding in Hyde Park, but it is so good it deserves mentioning twice.
Hyde Park is the only park in London where you can go round the park without worrying about cars and for large parts of the lap, pedestrians either.
Because you get away from the cars in Hyde Park, it is a great place for beginners to build their cycling confidence before cycling around London. That’s not to say it’s not great for the more experienced riders, too who want an easier and more relaxed ride away from the traffic.
And as a bonus, it’s a beautiful park as well. I always love to stop along the Serpentine and watch the swans for a little while.
Cycling around London south of the river: Beckenham Place Park and back again
Quite often Justin and I end up heading over the river and riding around Central/ North London. For this ride we decided to stay south of the river and head east. The idea was to cycle to Eltham Palace, which we’d seen in the news, but we ended up in Beckenham Place Park instead.
But it was a happy accident because Beckenham Place Park is great. It’s beautiful and has a couple of cafes. Justin was also very excited to discover it has a track for mountain bikes. No doubt he’ll be heading back that way before too long to test the tracks.
This ride, with a total of 42 kilometres, was a more challenging ride. It involved a lot of climbing both there and back. Why on the way back as well? Shouldn’t it be downhill? Yes, it should, but we took a different route back via Crystal Palace.
This ride is good if you are looking for an uphill challenge that goes on and on. Or at least so it seamed!
For us, it was good to have that challenge.
It made us realised how much work we need to do before the ride begins. The climbs we did are nothing compared to the ones we will face as soon as the ride begins from Norway. 🚵♀️
So be prepared for lots more cycling updates 😉. And to make sure you don’t miss any, sign up for the newsletter if you haven’t done so already.
Thank you for being here and reading the post.
Until next time!
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