If you want nice places to ride out of London, you head out into Surrey/Kent/Essex/Hertfordshire/Berkshire etc. When you don’t fancy trekking through suburbia for a few Ks, you go and ride round a park. These are the five best in London, probably.
Windsor Great Park
Windsor Great Park is my favourite park to ride in near London. It’s massive, has incredible views towards the castle, some great statues and is 99% car free all day. The only downside is that it’s 40km west of Central London, so not that practical for a daily visit. It is though possible to ride there and back in the summer months after work without needing to bring lights. You can pop up the road to Windsor town centre for a hot Cinnamon Bun in the Cinnamon Cafe (highly recommended) and a coffee. There’s no standard lap, but there’s a web of roads which criss-cross the park, all of which are great to ride on. It’s also where they held the road race in the 1948 Olympics, don’t ya know.
Traffic – pretty much all closed to cars, aside from Polo matches at Guards.
Speed – light on cycling and vehicle traffic, so you can usually open the taps up
Accessibility – bit of a trek, but worth it, and the ride along the river to get there is nice
Cafes – head to Cinnamon Cafe in Windsor, 5km up the road
Length – no continuous loop, but there’s about 15km of bike-friendly roads in the park
The central London classic. Popular with cyclists day and night, particularly the early crew before they open the gates to traffic at 7am. It’s a 5km loop with fast trains lapping under 6 minutes. Handy for before and after work, and spoilt for choice with cafes in the area. Parked cars and traffic for the Zoo create a few hazards during the day and evening rush hour times. The traffic lights favour cyclists in the morning, which is worth cashing in on. There’s also the Inner Circle, which has an average road surface, but no traffic lights and is a good 1km training loop for intervals.
Traffic – none before 7am, loads afterwards. After 7pm it empties out again.
Speed – if you get the right light sequence in the morning, it can be rapid.
Accessibility – easy to get to from anywhere in Central London
Cafes – Benugo in the Inner Circle is ok, Store St, Kaffeine, Workshop, Curators and others nearby are excellent.
Length – Outer Circle is a shade under 5km, Inner Circle is 1km.
A 2.7km loop south of the river, which is touched by most commuters coming from the south and west. It’s closed to cars, but there’s no shortage of hazards in the form of runners, dogs and barriers which all need to be avoided. Weekends are mayhem with kids on the rental recumbent bikes, but early on weekdays it’s a quiet, flat and fast place to ride. It’s a bit short on facilities, but not too much of an issue as it’s unlikely to be a destination rather than somewhere you pass through.
Traffic – no cars, plenty of other things to keep an eye out for, avoid at weekends.
Speed – earlier the better, flat out laps are doable in the mornings pre 8am. Best acw.
Accessibility – next to the river, 15 mins from Central, easy to get to from SW and South.
Cafes – Limited in the Park, some better options in Chelsea and Battersea nearby.
Length – 2.7km loop, one road, no hidden bits.
As if you don’t know already, Richy P is a popular spot for cyclists. Like Regent’s it is closed to traffic until around 7am which makes early mornings the best time to ride. As you’d expect, weekends are a write-off after around 9am as cars take over the roads. The gates also shut around sunset, so winter nights with a decent set of lights are another good time to go, just keep an eye out for the deer. There’s a couple of ok cafes in the park, but your best bet is to head into Putney or Kingston for a decent coffee.
Traffic – closed pre-7am and after sunset. Weekends and rush hours get prohibitively busy.
Speed – no lights, with cars being the only barrier to speed (and the 20mph limit…)
Accessibility – 3 main gates from Roehampton, Kingston and Richmond
Cafes – couple in the park, best off going to Dynamo in Putney or Cycle Exchange in Kingston
Length – 11km main loop with a couple of shorter options available through the middle
A lot of people think there’s just one way through Bushy, along the main road from north to south. In fact, there’s a load more road hidden away which is great to cycle on, and even better it’s all traffic free. There are some pedestrians and dog walkers to keep an eye out for, but if you want a nice quiet spot in SW London, this is the place to go. Like Richmond, there’s some basic cafe facilities in the park, but best bet is to nip to Kingston or Teddington.
Traffic – half has zero, half can get busy at peak times
Speed – not a place for long flat-out efforts, with plenty to keep an eye out for on the roads & paths
Accessibility – 10 mins ride from Richmond makes it an easy bolt-on to a ride there.
Cafes – better off heading into Teddington, Kingston or Giro in Esher
Length – just 2km of public road, with a further 10km or so of car-free tarmac paths