London: Pre-breakfast 20-milers

There’s a lot to be said for setting the alarm clock early and getting out on your bike before the masses of commuters get up and saturate the roads, tubes and buses. This is especially the case at this time of year when the weather is as nice as it has been in recent weeks.

I tend to get up at about 5:45am on cycling days so that at least two mugs of coffee can be downed, my tyres can be checked and I can make my way from Notting Hill down to Bolton Gardens to hook up with Sash, a good friend, cycling partner and mutual sounding board, near Earl’s Court tube station at around 6:15-6:30am. It’s then pretty easy to fit a 20-25 mile circuit in and to have a decent breakfast before heading into work for a 9:00-9:30am start.

Whilst Sash and I have quite a number of routes in our “library”, these tend to fall into four categories:

1. City Circuits
2. Richmond Park Loops
3. Tour of the Parks
4. Canary Wharf Returns

I did the first two of these earlier this week and the Cyclemeter links are provided if you want to see more.

Cycling in London is very different to rural cycling. There is a lot of stopping and starting due to traffic lights and the like, which affects average speeds considerably and needs to be factored into the timing. I tend to allow 90 minutes for a 20 or so mile ride, which includes about 20 minutes stop time.

The rewards of an early morning ride in and around London are worth the effort. Central London has much to offer, with spectacular views of Westminster Palace, The River Thames and The City to name a few:



Similarly, the ride through Chelsea over Putney Bridge and out into the comparative wilds of Richmond Park are worth the effort. Once there, it is difficult to believe that you can get to such a beautiful environment which is so close to the hustle and bustle of city life so quickly. The rewards speak for themselves – relatively few cars, open parkland and nature at its best:



Some mornings, especially those which follow a relatively late or liquid evening, it’s difficult to get sufficiently motivated to hit the road. However, once I do, it is never long before I realise why I did.

Once the cycling is done, there’s the breakfast to enjoy and the world to put to rights with Sash, which we do in a style that is probably best described as an advanced form of “Grumpy Old Man” syndrome.

There are two good breakfast spots that we use in the Notting Hill area, the Aphrodite Cafe on Hereford Road which is great for smoked salmon and scrambled egg; and the Kitchen & Pantry on Elgin Crescent which has a particularly good range of fresh juices and a very good porridge, with banana and honey.



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