The sun is out and the birds are singing so pump your tyres and pack a cold drink. The Telegraph and Sony Xperia have created a list of the best bike rides in London's summer sun
Richmond Park roadies
Richmond Park is a mecca for cyclists, and for the enthusiastic road rider a seven-mile circuit is a rite of passage. As a benchmark, three laps in one hour is the acid test of the serious roadie.
Circumnavigating the perimeter anti-clockwise is – the velominati insist – the more challenging, taking in the leg-stinging 12 per cent climb of Broomfield Hill. There is a 20mph speed limit, although at weekends and rush hour there is sufficient traffic to make hitting that mark challenging.
The best time to tackle a road ride in the park is early or, using the Xperia X’s low light features to make the most of the abundant deer and the beauty spot’s gorgeous sunsets, as late in the day as possible.
Early risers entering at Roehampton Gate will often be treated to a blanket of low-lying mist that, as you ascend, gives way to glorious vistas of the park. The view from Richmond Gate looking towards central London uniquely captures both the big city and rural London.
Xperia owners with lightning reactions can put the Predictive Hybrid AutoFocus to the test and attempt to capture shots of the park’s swooping parakeets. This smart feature tracks movements in the frame and adjusts for pin-sharp focus ahead of time, meaning you know where the brightly coloured birds are heading even before they do.
Barge spotting and canal cruising
The Grand Union Canal connects London and Birmingham, and a run from Kensal Rise to Paddington is a varied and fun family route.
Dropping down to the canal from Scrubs Lane and venturing west, the industrial views give way to city hustle and bustle.
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The kids can check out the painted barges moored along the way, and give a wave to the people drifting by. A nature reserve that runs parallel with Kensal Road is an ideal spot to look for animal tracks with the little ones, who are likely to want to check out on the goings-on at Meanwhile Gardens Skatepark next door.
It is free, and in quieter moments even small kids can have a go. Action shots with the iconic Trellick Tower in the background are a must, and you can leap into action with the Xperia X’s Quick Launch, which can capture an image from the lock screen in less than a second.
Back on the canal, there are a host of watering holes and lunch spots in Maida Vale and into Paddington Basin. Cycling is permitted along the canal but the often narrow space is shared with pedestrians.
Park life: Brockwell to Dulwich
Brockwell and Dulwich Park are two of London’s great green spots, and the savvy cyclist can take them both in while avoiding much of the traffic.
Sustrans is a charity promoting cycling, walking and public transport, and has mapped out an easy four-mile link between the parks, on quiet roads that competent cycling kids can tackle. Coming out of Brockwell Park by the Bullfinch Brewery, a traffic-calmed 4.1-mile route brings you into Dulwich Park close to the boating lake.
At an unhurried pace, a bike with a trailer or built-in child carrier – increasingly common sights in town – can make the journey in 25 minutes.
The lido is a fun family destination at the Brockwell end, and the popular adjoining café serves decent food. The BMX course is great for kids wanting more two-wheeled action and there is also a massive adventure playground - perfect camera-fodder for testing out the Xperia X’s Predictive Hybrid Autofocus on subjects that just won’t stand still.
The Dulwich section offers free tennis courts for those with energy to spare, boating, and the more genteel pleasures of the American Garden, a must-see in May when the blooming rhododendrons are picture-perfect.
Lee Valley’s east London mountains
Lee Valley VeloPark is a great way to try out a new form of two-wheeled fun, from riding on the same indoor track that the Great Britain team competed on in the 2012 Olympics, to taking on a purpose-built outdoor road circuit. But the most fun to be had at the east London cycling centre is the mountain biking course.
The capital offers cyclists many things. It is, however, short on mountains, making the Lee Valley course a muddy treat. There are 8km of trails to explore, and while the traffic and urban backdrop remind you that this is not the Alps there are woody and rocky sections, and, for the more skilled, jumps and berms.
The trails are colour-coded skiing-style into blue, red and black runs. The introductory course is £10 for adults and £6 for kids (£15 and £10 respectively if you need a bike).
Riding the superhighway
Boris Johnson is often on his bike and London’s cycle superhighways are part of his legacy as London mayor. It would be a mistake to think of them simply as ways to make a ride to work speedier and safer, and they offer plenty for the intrepid urban explorer.
Route 7 runs from Colliers Wood into the heart of the City. The Xperia’s two-day battery life is unlikely to be tested on the 45-minute route, but it will be an invaluable tool in finding a good café or lunch spot en route, with the likes of Clapham Common offering numerous options.
Further along the route be sure to snap the iconic, and pink, Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, as the London landmark will soon be demolished as part of a regeneration project.
The route is not one for the kids, but there is fun to be had along the way, and seeing the City on two wheels at the weekend is surreally worthwhile; riding empty roads and routes normally thronged with people is a 28 Days Later-esque journey out of the ordinary. Just don’t expect to stop for a coffee, with most places closed.
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