Sidings Community Centre was again the starting location for the Ice Cream Ride. This was initiated by one of Camden Cyclists’ recent speakers, Alix Stredwick, in 2004 to encourage more women to cycle. Eleven people (3 children) started: Ahmad, Jad, Savo, Nik, Patricia, Tracey, Max, Morten, Oliver, Jean, Myself (Geoff) on 10 bikes (Jad was carried by his dad).
After some necessary tyre pumping we set off towards Hampstead. After crossing the Finchley Road we encountered steep hills. Fortunately the route zig-zags providing occasional respite. Then along the aptly named Sandy Road, between West Heath and Golders Hill Park where we stopped at the café for our much appreciated first ice cream.
Off again across a little bit of North End we crossed Spaniards Road onto Hampstead Heath proper. Down a steep and busy pathway, hands on brakes, keeping strict control of our speed we crossed the Viaduct Pond and past the Bathing Ponds, out onto South End Road. Negotiating the busy gyratory on Agincourt Road, crossing onto Southampton Road, Malden Road and Queens Crescent and out onto Chalk Farm.
Marine Ices recently had to relocate, fortunately only a few hundred yard further down Chalk Farm Road where we enjoyed our next ice cream with one of their small upstairs rooms all to ourselves.
Walking a short distance back to Regent’s Park Road we continue over the railway bridge, down Gloucester Avenue and St Mark’s Crescent to Regents Park where we stopped again at the Regent’s Park Garden Café on the Inner Circle. I don’t think anyone bothered with ice cream, or anything else, apart from a rest, at that point.
The boys, Oliver and Max, were quite keen to cycle on the canal so we all agreed to try that as an alternative route. We retraced our steps up the Broadwalk and onto the canal by St Mark’s Square.
It’s just a short distance before the canal disappears into a tunnel just before it crosses the Edgware Road so we had to leave it at Lisson Grove crossing into back streets through St John’s Wood and West Hampstead coming out briefly onto West End Lane before turning into Iverson Road and back to Sidings.
I asked the riders to supply me with a quotation which summed up their experience on the ride…
“Great ride, good company, fun and some very well-earned Ice Creams – As always I learned about a couple of new safe cycle roads” (Morten).
“Pain and pleasure on the day …. and pain on it’s own (in my bum) on the morning after“ (Oliver).
“It was a great pleasure to ride with Geoff and all the others on Saturday July 11th for the Camden Ice Cream Ride! It was a great combination of getting fresh air doing some tough climbs for exercise (even though mostly it was a leisurely stroll :)), indulging on well earned ice-creams in the Heath, Camden and Regents Park, and of course great company with all the cyclists who made it an even more enjoyable ride!” (Ahmad).
“I would like to say how well organised Sunday’s cycle ride was – I am not a massively confident rider, but on trips like this I feel very safe being part of a large group. It’s a great opportunity to see parts of London that I rarely get the chance to enjoy. I loved the ice creams but the highlight for me and my 11 year old son, was the ride back home along the Regents Canal!” (Tracey & Max)
“During my childhood in the 1940s, everybody had bikes and they all knew how to ride them and used them regularly. Parents taught children how to pump their tyres, clean their bikes and fix their punctures, making them independent. Children of about 9-13 were trusted to ride out on 5-10 mile expeditions on their own. During my lifetime all of this has changed as people became more interested in their cars, producing a generation of young adults with little cycling experience.
“So I was really happy last Saturday to join the Ice Cream ride with such an enthusiastic group of young parents and their children, some of whom I have met on other rides. It was great that we were able to follow a route of this length without using too many nasty roads. Max and Oliver’s suggestion of returning via the towpath was an excellent one.
“Thanks, Geoff for such an enjoyable outing and congratulations for getting people cycling in West Hampstead. Let’s hope that the enthusiasm is infectious and that many more will families will participate in the future.” (Jean)
Photographs: Geoff Stilwell and Morten Shultz. The complete set on Flickr