What a glorious day, and not only the weather. Eleven people met for the Thames Towpath ride at Sidings Community Centre: Nathan, Jiten, Michael, Nicola, Eugene, Dympna, Vivien, Esther, Sharon, Tim, Nathan & me (Geoff).
Unfortunately it didn’t go too well for Nathan. He pumped up his front tyre and while pulling off the pump he pulled the whole valve out of the inner tube. He was offered a spare inner tube but it was the wrong size.
So only ten of us set off through the park. We stopped to take a quick photo which was when I discovered my camera wasn’t working either. Of course virtually everyone has a camera in their pocket these days with their phone, but it’s not so easy to take snaps on the move. Hence fewer action shots on this ride.
Our route went down through West Hampstead and across Maida Vale and the whole length of Elgin Avenue to the Great Western Road past Westbourne Park Station. Skirting through Notting Hill, Holland Park and Shepherds Bush all on quiet streets we arrived at Lyric Square Hammersmith for our first comfort break and a cuppa.
A short section of King Street led to Bridge Road which took us down the Hammersmith Bridge safely across the A4 by pelican crossings. Getting onto the bridge proved more difficult with fast traffic coming from Hammersmith Broadway over the bridge. Eventually a gap appeared and we were off again over the bridge and down onto the towpath.
The sun had brought out the multitudes and their children to walk, run and cycle the towpath but we were all considerate of each other and progressed slowly and carefully towards Barnes.
The White Hart pub was crowded but we managed to find a couple of riverside tables to eat our food. Sitting eating our lunch by the river, warm but in the shade and a cooling breeze, it doesn’t get much better than this. Tim couldn’t stay for lunch or the rest of the ride so after refuelling and resting nine remaining riders set off along the towpath again.
After crossing Chiswick Bridge we followed the river path back along the northern side, past boating clubs, tennis clubs and leisure centres till we turned away from the river and came out opposite Chiswick House.
As we were making good time so we all decided to wander around the grounds for a while walking our bikes. The camellias in the conservatory were only in bud but there were beautiful blossoms elsewhere. Although there were many families out on the grass enjoying the sun it was a peaceful place echoed by the plaque by the Ionic Temple and Mirror Pond saying it was built as a place of tranquility. Many of us said we would go back again to spend more time there and perhaps visit Chiswick House as well.
We eventually found our way out via the car park and crossed the busy A4 (Hogarth Lane) and found a little pathway which saved us some riding along the pavement of the A4. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves crossing the Chiswick High Road, Chiswick Back Common, arriving at Turnham Green and Trinity’s Coffee Shop for another welcome break.
Progressing northward we crossed The Vale (Uxbridge Road), went under the Westway and, using a short pathway, under the railway, and out onto Du Cane Road opposite Wormwood Scrubs Prison. Mindful of the troubles they are having there we skirted around the back, past the Linford Christie stadium and across the grass of Wormwood Scrubs to a partially hidden exit onto Scrubs Lane.
From the road bridge a little north of there we descended down to the Grand Union Canal towpath. Jiten left us here and Michael as little later. We cycled eastwards along a short section of the canal towpath, past the Sainsburys Superstore at Ladbroke Grove to a footbridge opposite Second Avenue on the Harrow Road. Here we said farewell to Esther. Zig-zagging around the backstreets we came to Shirland Road and then Kilburn Park Road, Carlton Hill and said more farewells to Nicola, Sharon and Vivien at Boundary Road. Then there were only two left to finish the ride in West Hampstead.
I’d like to thank all the riders for coming and providing me with such good company for a glorious and friendly cycling day in the sunshine.
What you said about the ride:
It doesn’t get much better than this – cycling by the river on a sunny Sunday with a bunch of like minded individuals. I have lived in London for more years than I care to recall but discovered many new neighbourhoods and places that I had never visited. Geoff has an amazing knowledge of the back streets of our capital and navigates them with no hesitation. Brilliant!
SharonThank you very much for a great day out, you did an excellent job organising it all, finding an ideal lunch stop and providing the ideal weather to go with it as well.
Hope to join you again soon.
MichaelA very professionally organised and friendly ride. We were all so well looked after and it was fun!
VivienWhat I was even more conscious of about the ride than the huge enjoyment of doing “a day’s hard work” on the bicycle, was that I felt accompanied and accepted and reassured by all the others that all was happy and well and safe. How I wish my non-cycling friends could experience what we did on Sunday.