26 January 2010

On our bikes

I first joined the online meet-up site, http://www.meetup.com, a couple of years ago when somebody told me about a Czech/Slovak group that meets regularly in London but I had never managed to get to any meet-ups until last week when I went to two!

Or, to be more honest, I went to one event that was being co-hosted by two groups that I belong to so I RSVP'ed. The Kingston and Richmond Social Group and Twickenham Cycling Meetup Group jointly arranged a cycle around Richmond Park.

I could hardly refuse an invitation like that!

We met at the New Inn on Ham Common where my worries started as people turned up in a range of increasingly rugged bikes, wearing incredibly appropriate clothing and carrying useful supplies like inner tubes, pumps and water. Non of which I could claim to.

Luckily a few other people turned up in street clothes and normal bikes and I started to feel more comfortable. Quick introductions were made (and mostly forgotten) over a quick half and then we were off along Ham Gate Avenue to, er, Ham Gate.

The decision was made to go around Richmond Park anti-clockwise (not my preference) which meant a slow climb towards Kingston Gate and then a sharp climb up Kingston Hill where the group I was in politely waited for the ladies on bikes without gears to catch us up.

The rest of the ride was a playful scramble along the path that continually turns, dips, bends and rises to keep the journey interesting and the view ever-changing.

A high point was towards the end of the ride when we came across a group of deer grazing by the side of the road between Richmond Gate and Ham Gate.

After that the ride was all down hill and then a quick sprint back to the pub for our reward and more conversations.

Having dipped my toe into the world of meet-ups I'm sure that I'll be going on another one before too long, such as the walk from Putney to Waterloo next month.

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