Sunday 1 January 2017

Rapha Festive 500: Day 6

Thursday 29th December - My Tour de Londres - Western loop (Berkshire)

As I had planned to ride roughly 90km, with a view to completing my challenge on Friday 30th December, I had hoped to leave the house promptly at 9am.

In fact one look out of the window showed that an early start would not be prudent as London was shrouded in mist, and the roads were icy.

Where the previous stage led to me leaving the house just before 10am instead of 9am, on this stage I ended up leaving at 10.30am instead of 10am.  

My ride into Kent had made me feel slightly anxious as the terrain there tends to be quite hilly, which means the ride is slower going and I am racking up the fewer miles for my money. And you can't fly down the descents either due to the inherent risks.

For this ride in to Berkshire, on the other hand, I felt more relaxed. I had planned to ride to Windsor via Hampton Court and Virginia Water on a familiar route which would be mainly flat, and on suburban roads that are less likely to be icy than country lanes. 

Hampton Court Palace
I always associate south-west London with being picturesque and unchallenging - the sort of place where families can go out riding on easy routes, enjoying a pleasant ride, and stopping off for a picnic at one of the well-known attractions at or near the river.

So I was looking forward to today's ride, particularly Virginia Water Lake, one of my favourite spots in London. 

Having said that, the weather was mighty cold, and I was wrapped up in as many layers I could muster, including two layers dhb Aeron rain and wind defence gear. I wasn't taking any chances! 

At least the sun shone most of the day, and when I arrived at Hampton Court the palace looked lovely in the midday sun, and so did the River Thames.

Virginia Water Lake
Onwards and I arrived at Virginia Water, which looked magical in the sunshine. I can see why this place has become a favoured location for filming the Harry Potter movies.

I had wanted to ride to Windsor along the cycle paths surrounding the lake and in Windsor Great Park, but judging the state of the icy surfaces I thought better of it, and took the nearby main road through the Wentworth Estate. 

Although this was not a busy road, it was not great as the motorists that passed me were mainly 4 x 4 Mercedes and BMWs zooming by at ridiculous speeds along the lane like they wanted to prove a point. Furthermore, there were areas where one moment you'd be in sunshine, and the next you'd be in a random dense foggy patch that just sat right over that road and showed no sign of going away. Thankfully I had lights and high visibility gear on.

Finally, I arrived in Windsor where the tourists were out in force. As time was marching on, there was just time to go for a spin along Eton Bridge, and then whizz up to the castle, before returning to Staines via Runnymede and taking the train back to London.

Outside Windsor Castle
This could easily have been a ride to do all the way home, but on a day where visibility was hit and miss and the temperatures were rapidly falling as sunset was approaching it was more prudent to end the ride sooner rather than later. Once the weather is better this route will be at the top of my list to ride all the way back to my house. 

89.1km ridden; running total - 407.8km; 92.2km left
2 mini packs of oat cakes, 4 hobnobs
Weather: frosty, sunny, with foggy patches, 4degC

Rides on Strava
Western loop (Berkshire)

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