Last week's blog post was entitled "walking" so "cycling" seems an apt follow-through for this week.
At the commencement of the pandemic lock-down in England cycle shops were one of the few retailers permitted to remain open. My ancient Raleigh bicycle which had been used for frequent rides to Richmond Park, then to circulate its hilly terrain and to return home via sometimes muddy and always hilly Common, Beverley Brook and Wimbledon Village, urgently required servicing. Upon taking the bike to the popular but small bike shop in Raynes Park they quoted about £75 for the full service.
The quote seemed reasonable but upon looking around the shop whilst the quote was being prepared I wondered about acquiring a new bike instead of servicing the old one. After a little haggling about the cost of the new bike, the sale price for the old and transferring lights and carrier from the old to new bike a deal was done. Possibly new bicycles will become more expensive after the pandemic is over not least if there any issues with China though many bikes come I believe from Taiwan rather than China; perhaps the UK should begin to manufacture more as we used to do when I purchased the old Raleigh.
Apart from cycling home from Raynes Park, I had not until Thursday this week, really tried a decent cycle ride on the new bike. Furthermore, with Richmond Park closed to cyclists for the time being, there was a question of how to secure a longish decent but overall enjoyable ride.
Wimbledon Common like Richmond Park, is also closed to motorists but unlike Richmond Park is still open to cyclists. Walking on the Common is always enjoyable but in my view, the limited cycle routes over Wimbledon Common though good for small children with their parents are not ideal for OAP cyclists such as yours truly.
Eventually, I decided on a route through to Kingston-Upon-Thames, thence along the River Thames to Hampton Court Palace, following which if the route proved enjoyable, I would return the same way.
In the event, the chosen route for trying the new bike, was excellent. Kingston town centre was almost empty given the Covid-19 shop closures. Kingston's local council Lib/Dem I believe, was working hard to provide new cycle routes everywhere so riding through the town was a cinch. There was then a two way cycle path over Kingston Bridge and an easy track down to the Thameside path leading to Hampton Court and beyond.
The Thames path was broad and even the stony parts proved no difficulty for the new bike.
Perhaps because of the Covid-19 and huge reductions in diesel and petrol driven traffic everywhere, the sky was beautifully blue and clear, the Thames was flowing serenely and the only interruption was a brief telephone call on my mobile, which mrs maytrees had asked me to bring in case of incidents or accidents, of which there were none.
As for the bike; understandably a big improvement on my thirty year plus, old Raleigh and the modern gear change arrangement made hill climbing rather less difficult than used to be the case. The main drawback however was that the old Raleigh bike saddle had springs whereas in common with many C21 bikes, the new cycle did not.