Chocolate, Cycling and Castles

For quite a while I had been thinking and planning in my mind how good it would be to cycle out to Windsor, take in the sites and have a quick break at this chocolate café I had previously visited. I had a whole Saturday to spare and with the sun shining I thought it was finally time to get off my bum and rather than thinking and dreaming about it to go a head and do it. They always say the hardest part is getting out the front door regardless of whether your joe blog or Olympian and its true, at least certainly from my point of view.

My previous attempt had seen my journey cut short as without a map and arriving at a very busy main road out of London I thought it best to spend some more time cycling round Richmond Park. I didn’t want this to happen again regardless of what happened.

The plan this time was simple try and follow this dodgy map I had printed out, head out to Windsor (no excuse for falling short of this), stop at the café and then head back. All ready I headed out the door, it started to rain.

The initial part of the ride is probably the easiest to navigate but also have the busiest roads adding to the challenge of getting about safely. I headed out to Richmond Park, passing some fellow fulon tri members who had made it out on the rider earlier than me, before following the meanders of the Thames out to Hampstead court. It was here that the first challenge of the day came in the form of the smells, sounds and sights of pimms, ice cream and sausages coming from the direction of The Foodie Festival, to go or not to go?? It was very tempting, but one for another day.

Heading out into greener pastures and I was travelling by the Thames, through smaller London boroughs, past cosy pubs and quaint house boats. I always think they would be great to live on, but that’s a story for another day. On reaching a decisive decision point I pulled out my printed off map and noted how useless it was, you could hardly make out the roads never mind the road numbers. Fortunately I met a friendly cyclist who pointed me in the right direction. Heading up to Chertsney, then Virginia Waters, followed by Staines and finally into Windsor. Sounded simple enough. I headed in the direction he said and the roads were great now, pretty quite and they had a bike lane.

Further on and the signs pointed in separate directions left for Virginia waters right for Staines. My thinking was Virginia waters and Windsor and both further west so no reason to head back into London. Which turned out to be not entirely true but I thought I couldn’t go wrong.

I was travelling through bright yellow fields, through wooded areas and past some huge mansions with a whole array of luxury cars parked outside. It was great being out in the open. I met a cyclist who showed me where we were on a map which confirmed that I was on the right route and got chatting about his trip he was planning across France which sounded fantastic. Another T junction and another decision to be made left or right, fortunately some cyclists came past and said they were travelling to Windsor. I jumped on my bike again and was on my way following close behind before overtaking and carrying on my journey. The route took me through and past the Royal Park. It was an awesome sight cycling along with trees towering over the road, blue flowers poking up all over the place and then this huge old tree appeared. It’s the beauty of cycling you are travelling slowly enough to experience all the sights and sounds around you that in a car you are closed off from to a greater extent. Pulling over to take in the sights and I got chatting to the first semi-drunk guy of the day and it was only 1pm but he was an old lad who had clearly been having a very good start to the day at his local.

I carried on into a bustling Windsor with the castle looming up a head of me, tourists and locals mingling in the high street and the thought of chocolate getting ever closer. I rolled up to the café called The Chocolate Theatre. I was greeted to a great sight of a whole heap of bikes parked up outside. Should have taken a photo thinking about it…

I ordered my “Penultimate Hot Chocolate” and a sandwich, chilling in the cool breeze and relaxing with the thought of the ride. It finally arrived; the long awaited moment one creamy hot chocolate, cream and chocolate flakes not sprinkled but placed gently on top as they were huge chunks of chocolate. Couldn’t help but smile.

It was time for the ride back, if nothing else to burn off a huge number of calories and get the legs warm again which had cooled considerably during my stop. Riding a long and I was soon met by some of the cyclists that I had met previously just before the Royal Park. It was time to join the peloton Tour de France style, racing a long rotating the lead and allowing each other to be pulled along by the man in front. It was great travelling at higher speed and a welcome change to the afternoons bike ride. It also took me in a much more direct route back to the start point. Flying a long the country roads soon brought us back to Hampstead court and the surrounding area which was jammed with traffic where the peloton finally had to break apart as we each picked our way through the heavy traffic. All that was left was a burst into Kingston and the end of the cycle.

Not sure where my next route will be so if you have any ideas then let me know…