You have to take advantage of the hot days when they come. So after work I rushed home to get changed and head out for three laps of Richmond Park which should be the best place in London to ride a bike.
It’s got everything you could ask for
- Largely uninterrupted lap of decent length with a cafe
- Variety of terrain including a couple of hills, a couple of fast sections, a swooping descent
- Nice selection of wildlife, primarily red and roe deer but also loads of pooches being exercised
- Plenty of other cyclists to laugh at/nod at/chase/get dropped by
- Borderline central London location
But there is one thing that ruins it. It not
- The plums (primarily lycra based) who weave in an out of the cars at speed like intellectually subnormal salmon
- The clowns (all costume options) who expect everyone on the road to give way to them, even when they don’t have right of way
- The drivers who try to run oncoming traffic into the ditch
- The pedestrians who seem to have less understanding of how to cross the road that the deer
- The utter nimrods who seem to think that they can park anywhere they like
The road surface
The resurfacing work undertaken in the last year has been an unmitigated DISASTER.
Whereas before it was a bit bobbly between Ham and Kingston Gates, now it’s one long rumblestrip travelling anti-clockwise.
From the East Sheen roundabout up to Richmond Gate is a gravel-strewn, puncture alley in the wet and on a hot day, like today, a sucking tar pit.
The big hill on Broomfield Drive now has a dangerous rough ridge down the middle of the tyre tracks which could cause problems if you get your line wrong or aren’t expecting it.
Did I mention that in the wet the flinty aggregate – “too sharp” apparently – makes the resurfaced sections puncture pits and sprays up loose tar that gets everywhere?
Well in the hot, the road surface hasn’t held enough aggregate resulting in a sticky tar track, the sort I’ve not experienced since riding the newly surfaced Port de Bales in the Pyrenees in 2007.
I still love riding in the park, but it’s not been the same since the new surface.
The flow of a lap is gone, broken up by unfamiliar sensations in sections which I used to be able to recognise simply by the feel of the bike against the road.
I know I’m not the only person who rides in the park and feels this way about the new surface. It’s been a bone of contention for some time and the rumour is that remedial work is planned to make good the original resurfacing.