Thursday 14 September 2017

One day one photo - 14: Royal Parks lunchtime bike ride

Working in Central London near the different Royal Parks means that I can get out a couple of times a week and do some kind of sporting activity.

I usually run, and I also get my bike out (naturally). I am not quite sure which is the best park to use for this. Years ago when I worked in Westminster I would go around St James's Park, but I stopped going there because the traffic lights and pedestrian crossings meant that you would have to suddenly decelerate after riding a short stretch, and be mindful that the stray tourists randomly crossing the road along Horse Guards Road could make for a high risk situation!

I then found that at Hyde Park as you could get a good work-out going south to north on the Broadwalk, which is slightly uphill. The stretch along North Carriage Drive is on the road and has no traffic lights. Then the rest of loop has a cycle lane that is part of the Cycle Superhighway network so you could get up a good speed with only minimal stoppages along South Carriage Drive, and just a brief slow-down just before the Broad Walk. That seemed ideal as the stoppages were just right for me to get a quick breather during my laps.

Cycle training in Regent's Park
Unfortunately things have changed there now. In their wisdom Royal Parks have decided to put speed bumps on the Broad Walk, and put a 10mph speed limit. Furthermore, they have made the Broad Walk shared use, basically giving pedestrians carte blanche to wander into the cycle lane, and they will always take priority. An accident waiting to happen, in my opinion. Also, different events going on in Hyde Park mean that cyclists get diverted onto the pavement on North Carriage Drive, so overall you end up sauntering around Hyde Park, and not getting a beneficial work-out. And it does nothing to help my Strava segments either!

So today, I tried out Regent's Park. I know that club cyclists tend to meet up and do a chain gang around the Outer Circle. I didn't do any chain gang, but I just went there and rode fast laps. There's quite a nice atmosphere as a number of other cyclists train on that circuit too, and there are sections where you can get in some hard intervals over a long stretch. However, there are a few traffic lights in rapid succession in the area near Baker Street and Marylebone Road.

The worst thing about this circuit though, is the ride back to the office. On the straight road from Park Crescent to Piccadilly Circus, a stretch of less than a mile, there must easily be 10 sets of traffic lights, making the homeward ride seem interminable. And the traffic fumes can't be great for my lungs either!

I can't really say which Royal Park provides the best cycle circuit, but I think that for the time being I will just alternate between the three Parks. I guess, having traffic lights will be good interval training, allowing for a short breather in between. And I always welcome a bit of rest whenever possible!

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