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Tour of Britain - Day 8 - London

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Surrey Hills. Photo by Dave Barter.


Surrey Hills & Richmond Park

An Olympic route from capital to country

Grade: Difficult
Distance: 119.4km/74.2miles
Ascent: 1,373m/4,503ft

This year's Tour of Britain finale throws laps in central London, but we're going to head out and back in again via Richmond Park. Can a Brit be this year's ToB winner? Wiggins is riding it for pre World Champs race fitness, but let's hope he puts the hammer down too. Here's Dave's final taster from Great British Bike Rides:

Surrey Hills Overview mapIf you live in London and are a competitive cyclist, you’ve almost definitely ridden a loop of Richmond Park. Like moths to a light, lycra-clad boys and girls spend hours at weekends riding laps and dodging deer.

It’s a special place for the two-wheeled crowd as it is relatively free of traffic lights, roundabouts and lorries and – more importantly – a speed limit of 20mph is rigorously enforced. Watch out though – David Millar very nearly copped a speeding ticket in 2011 after setting a record-breaking lap that averaged 30mph around the park.

The park is populated by herds of deer as well as packs of cyclists and, with the slow traffic, is a particularly pleasant place to ride. (Look out for dogs named Fenton, who have a penchant for unauthorised herding of the deer.) However, Richmond Park is not the only cycling landmark in the area. Box Hill, which resides on the outskirts of the metropolis, is equally popular with weekend warriors and racers. The 2012 London Olympics saw its inclusion in the road race where, sadly, our men were outfoxed by Alexander Vinokourov. However, the British women stepped up to the mark with Lizzie Armitstead picking up silver at the finish on the Mall.

So why not celebrate Surrey cycling with a ride than encompasses both of these two-wheeled hotspots? This route does that and more as, after leaving London via Box Hill, it runs up and over a couple of other notorious Surrey climbs: the strenuous slog of Leith Hill and the knee-destroyingly steep and sustained gradients of White Down. You’ll be glad of the relatively flat run home after testing yourself over those three climbs!

But the route offers much more than hills and parks. The run into London comes with the option of riding the cycle path alongside the Thames. This is not the most ‘lightweight bike’ friendly riding as some of the path is almost off-road, but it is completely traffic-free. The run out of London is equally ‘exciting’ and every committed cyclist owes it to their urban-based brethren and sistren to ride a few miles in traffic and empathise with their predicament. Once out of town, however, Surrey’s rolling green landscape and network of tree-lined lanes offer plenty more highlights and a real contrast to the London bustle – it just goes to show that solitude is entirely possible anywhere in Great Britain for those cyclists determined to find it.

The final motivation for riding this route is that picking your time carefully (i.e. luckily) might well give you a glimpse of that rarest of species: the professional British Cyclist. Many of the pros have been spotted in the area, alongside visiting international celebrities such as Fabian Cancellara, who made the trip over in late 2011 to recce the Olympic road race course.

Surrey Hills stats page.

For full route information, and details of all 40 of Dave's routes, check out Great British Bike Ridesand save 20% at checkout with offer code TOUR2013

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