Katharine Heim, Wednesday 18 July 2012
The Olympic Cycle Races are fast approaching and nows a better time than ever to brush up on your cycling skills.
Outdoor cycling is a fun, free way to see the city while trimming your waistline. Ride your own or rent one from a local shop, and hit the trails!
Leave the city behind by starting at Kingston Station and following the signs to Hampton Court. Bike along the Thames path whilst taking in the historic grounds. Sights include Hampton Court Bridge, houseboats of Tagg’s Island and Hurst Park. When you reach Shepperton hop on the Shepperton to Weybridge ferry to cross the Thames or keep riding south, following the signs for National Route 4. If you get lost remember the National Cycle Network has signs throughout the U.K. Just look for a blue sign with a bicycle and red route number. Simply follow the arrow. This 18 mile bike-ride will probably take two hours. View map here
For a slightly easier ride, a similar ride to Hampton Court can be taken by starting at Richmond Station. Join the Thames path at Richmond Bridge. Pass Eel Pie Island toward Teddington Lock; about a mile up will be Kingston Bridge. Carry your bike across and continue on the other side, then cycle onwards to beautiful Hampton Court Palace.
Take in scenic sites from the city, as well as from nature on a 12 mile ride beginning at Westminster Pier and ending at Kew Gardens. Take the road behind the Houses of Parliament, continuing along to Milbank, then follow the riverbank past the Tate Modern. You should eventually see Battersea Power Station across the river and continue onwards, ending up near Wandsworth Bridge. Now join the Thames Path through Fulham Palace Gardens and past Oliver’s Island. If you’re too tired to cycle back, no worries, a ferry leaves from Kew Pier back to Westminster. View map here
If you prefer the camaraderie of a group ride, check out Sky Ride Local - an organisation that provides fun, free community bike rides. All ages are welcome and rides are led by experienced volunteers. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or just starting out, rides are organised by ability so you can pick the one perfect one for you. Groups are kept small, about 16 – 24 people, so it’s a great way to meet people from your community. Sky Rides are currently available in Kingston upon Thames, Wandsworth and Croydon. Register online and find a local group near you.
If you not feeling fit enough for a prolonged ride, a local park is a great place to start. 200-acre Battersea Park or Epsom Common, an expansive nature reserve, are great practising areas.