Battersea is a cycling oasis in the heart of London.
The beginnings of Battersea Park go way back to the time of Queen Victoria, when land was set aside to revitalize a poor, working-class area of the city. But cycling really took off in the 1890s, when bikes were banned in Hyde Park and Regent’s Park — and riders streamed to Battersea for its shady trees, Thames views and smooth pathways.
These days, it’s a great spot for laps (3km around the main loop) or cruising to the zoo, boating lake and bandstand. From here, you can ride along the Thames past the London Eye and the Tate Modern to Greenwich, or head to 2,500-acre Richmond Park, where loads of cyclists train on the weekend.
It’s a decent spot for mountain biking, too — the 7.35-mile Tasmin Trail encircles the park and even has some singletrack. For more MTB, you’ll have to go further afield: the hand-crafted features at Chicksands, the soft loam at Surrey Hills and the gravity-fed trails of Rogate.
Gravel is the same story: try the route from Crystal Palace to Croydon, point your wheels toward Kent or explore Surrey Hills or Epping Forest. No matter what, you should participate in the gigantic RideLondon, when tens of thousands of cyclists ride out of the capital into the Essex countryside.