Hey Chevening family!
If you’re like me and are terrified of the cold, gusty winds, and rainfall, you probably haven’t ventured out on many weekend trips across the UK yet. I’ve decided to wait until it gets a little warmer, when I can soak in all the views and capture breathtaking photos without fear that my fingers will go numb! So for now, my adventures have revolved around exploring the scenes in London via the tube or as far as my two legs can pedal on my bicycle.
Before arriving in the UK, I had gone through an intensive Instagram search for cycling clubs within close proximity to my accommodation and was fortunate enough to have found the Chain Gang Cyclists (CGC), a community club of Rapha London. Even better was the fact that the club captain lived within 5 minutes of my accommodation in Wembley Park.
I’m so glad I joined the club, because undoubtedly one of my favourite adventures in the UK so far was venturing out for my first riding weekend.
With my bike finally reassembled and my thermal riding gear on, I was excited and all set to pedal away.
On Friday morning, we ventured east to Regent’s Park for ‘Friday Chat Laps’. This concept was very unfamiliar to me but quite enjoyable. During chat laps, the large group split into four smaller groups. Each had between 10 to 14 riders of varying skills, from beginners to more advanced cyclists. In these smaller groups, we rode in pairs at a casual pace and had what I describe as a ‘mini meet and greet’ on our bikes, by chatting away with the person riding next to us. At the end of each lap, we would rotate and move on to pairing with the next cyclist in line. At the end of the ride, I had met over 13 new cyclists from varying backgrounds, who made me feel quite welcome and at home.
The greatest thing about this was that all the gates to the park remained closed until 7am, so cyclists and runners could use the park undisturbed for a few hours. That, my friends, is heaven for a cyclist.
When we left the park, we followed the bike lanes along Regent’s Street to the Rapha Clubhouse where we had hot beverages and pastries surrounded by loads of chatter and heartfelt laughter.
On Sunday, we ventured 17km south to the famous Richmond Park to meet the group for a long endurance ride. When I entered the gates to Richmond Park, I was stunned. I unclipped my pedals and stood still for a few moments to watch the breathtaking view of the sun awakening beneath the morning mist.
This amazing and enormous park is one of London’s eight Royal Parks, covering over 2,500 acres. Plus, it’s a great place to spot some wildlife without heading too far out of the city, as the park has deer roaming around. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop quickly enough to grab my phone to snap a picture of the ones I saw. But rest assured, I will be heading back in the summertime for another adventure.