I’m not normally worried about weather forecasts but when I am planning a ride I’m almost obsessed and the forecasts change daily. The forecast this morning wasn’t brilliant: mostly cloudy, variable temperatures, 63% chance of rain; definitely not good for a ride. I think it did put a few people off as only three people arrived at Sidings to meet me: Tim, Sharon and Esther. Esther told us she had fallen about seven months ago and had broken her collar bone. Although she had recovered physically, she didn’t feel so confident riding a bike and this was her first proper ride since her accident. I reassured her that it was going to be a ‘leisurely’ ride and we would go at her pace.
So four of us set off through West Hampstead and Maida Vale, riding down Randolph Avenue, crossing the Canal at Warwick Avenue and under the A40 overpass to arrive at Paddington Basin. There we marvelled at the new development of the canalside and wondered how many ‘ordinary people’ would live there.
We crossed the small bridge and rode along the south side of the basin for a short stretch to find a back alley leading to St Mary’s Hospital and Praed Street. After the buses turned right into Westbourne Terrace on the other side of Paddington Station, we had a much quieter road to ourselves. At the End of Craven Hill Gardens, Sharon asked if we could make a small detour to visit a flat she used to live in 30 years ago. That was quite a nostalgic trip down memory lane for her.
Weaving our way through the back streets we found ourselves on Bayswater Road just west of the entrance to Kensington Gardens. Just inside we stopped for a comfort break and a coffee at the café. There we were asked by a mum with two small children if we could pump up her daughter’s little bike tyres. Of course we were pleased to help. So far no rain and quite a few bursts of sunshine through the clouds.
We set off again down the Broad Walk to the south end of Kensington Gardens where we had to ride a short distance along Kensington Road and back into Hyde Park at Queens Gate. there is a lot of work and disruption to the roads and cycle paths in Hyde Park but we were understanding because it is the construction of the TfL East-West Cycle Superhighway. It will be great when that opens. We continued along South Carriage Drive until we reached Hyde Park Corner. Despite going at a leisurely speed we discussed whether we wanted to go down to Buckingham Palace and get our lunch in St James’ Park.
We ate our lunches in warm sunshine on a bench near to Horse Guards Parade with a great view of the London Eye above the government buildings. When the wind blew and the sun disappeared behind darker clouds the temperature seemed to drop considerably so we retraced our steps back to Hyde Park Corner.
We continued up the cycle path along the eastern side of Hyde Park, parallel to Park Lane, exiting the park at Stanhope Gate. We took the usual back-street route northward on the eastern side of the Edgware Road, including Hamilton Terrace. Tim left us first needing to get to his bike mechanic in West Hendon. Sharon was next to leave at Boundary Road heading further east. I escorted Esther back to Neasden. All we had experienced all day was a few spits of rain, nothing to trouble even the most fair-weather cyclist. A relaxing ride in good company was had by all of us. And Esther was really encouraged and felt that she could now cope with more rides again. That makes it all worthwhile.
What you said about the ride:
Riding with a small group of four, which gave each of us the opportunity to be very companionable, the compulsion initially to go on any kind of bike ride was quickly exceeded by the sheer joy of being carried along on our bikes on what turned out to be a most interesting exploration.
Lovely leisurely ride to kick-start my cycling year. I commute daily by bike (only 10 mins each way!) but there is nothing to beat a ride “just for the fun of it”. Geoff is an exceedingly accommodating and reassuring leader who seems to know lightly trafficked London roads like the back of his hand. An added bonus is meeting others of like mind. To sum up – “More please!”
Thoroughly enjoyed interesting & varied ride with Geoff Stilwell, who did an excellent job of guiding myself & 2 companions around a complex series of twists & turns. Being in a group of only four allowed conversation to flow & made it a very friendly experience.