Leader: Geoff Stilwell 10.3 miles 16.6 km
Unsurprisingly I expect, owing to the low temperature, the wind and the threat of rain, five riders met at Sidings Community Centre for this afternoon ride: John, Alex, Morten, Oliver and myself.
The ride was billed as a bit of a mystery, “… we will join two separate and familiar rides together with a new middle section.” So where were we going?
The first section was the beginning of our annual Ice Cream Ride up to Golders Hill Park, and I do mean up! Fortunately the arrangement of the roads on the other side of Finchley Road means we can zig-zag up the hill getting the occasional respite. Although the final bit up Sandy Lane is long and upward. No-one needed to walk up.
At the park entrance we asked if anyone wanted an Ice Cream. Oliver might have but the rest of use weren’t keen so we agreed to continue.
This was the new section of the ride. We didn’t want to walk our bikes through Golders Hill Park and out at West Heath Avenue so we had to ride down North End Road which was quite busy and drivers were not happy to drive slowly behind five cyclists until we could turn off into West Heath Avenue. We were much happier on the quieter roads. We crossed the Finchley road and found the small but compact Childs Hill Park.
Although Childs Hill Park is very small, there are a lot af amenities there: tennis courts, a bowls pitch, court, green, children’s playground and a sensory garden, well worth visiting in the flowering months, and best of all, a Café specialising in Kosovan food. It was packed with families and people playing dominoes and chess. There is a veranda, sheltered enough for us to enjoy our drink with a Kosovan sweet of pudding and syrup.
Retracing our route to the north-west corner exit we took the road past Basing Hill Park (you find lots of parks in London when you cycle the back streets) and crossed the Hendon Way (A41) using an underpass. This brought us up into Clitterhouse Playing Fields. Here we were following part of a route I’ve used on my Welsh Harp Ride, but in the opposite direction.
Coming south through the roads all with names of hills, e.g. Cotswold, Cumbrian, Cheviot, Alex was able to show me a slight diversion on an easier path which I’d missed.
The only way across the railway lines here is on Cricklewood Lane which is quite a busy road. Just after the railway bridge we were able to turn into the B&Q car park. Although this is a quieter route than Cricklewood Lane and Cricklewood Broadway, you do still have to keep your wits about you and watch for cars reversing without looking first.
Crossing Cricklewood Broadway into Brent we headed straight to Gladstone Park. This was part of the Brent Parks Ride. We stopped at the bridge across the railway by the Dudden Hill Junction signal box where the railway enthusiasts remarked on the changes there. We climbed up another quite steep hill up to Gladstone’s House at the top of the park. When I reconnoitred the ride the week before I found the café near there. Again we debated whether we needed another break and decided to head straight home.
Down the west and south edges of the park, we again came back to the railway bridge and out of the exit opposite Park Avenue North. From there it’s mostly downhill, down St Paul’s Avenue and Chatsworth Road back to Sidings before dark.