Distance: 5.79 miles (9.3km)
As I locked my door leaving home I felt spits of rain and then remembered I’d left my waterproof jacket inside. I had to unlock the door, find my jacket, stow it away and then set off for Sidings. By this time I was a little late. A lovely surprise awaited me. Lots of people waiting for me and lots of children too.
My friend, Jenny, an experienced cyclist who I’d asked to join us to help, was checking bikes and found one with a very dry chain which needed lubrication. I had some chain oil in my shed at home so off I went to fetch it.
More people had arrived by the time I returned so after bikes were suitably lubricated and riders appropriately clothed we counted up and found we had 15 people (including me) 5 of them children aged 3, 5, 8, 10 and a little bit and 10 and a bit more. Jenny, Malcolm, Anna, Toby, Peter, Suzanne, Ruth, Esther, Adam and the children: Malaika, Will, Clara, Ellen and Eric.
Off we set with the children up front with me. We went down to Maygrove Road and across the lights at Kilburn Station. Christchurch Road is one straight road leading to our first park. There are a couple of busy crossings managed with more experienced riders marshalling and ensuring the group’s safety.
At Tiverton Green we rode straight across to Oakhampton Road then, apart from a short section on Chamberlayne Road, on quiet back streets into King Edward VII Park and past Willesden Sports Centre. This is a park that welcomes considerate cyclists. I asked if people would like to circumnavigate the park, which we did and almost lost a couple of ladies who missed following the group and turned left instead of right at the exit.
Continuing out of the Sports Centre and down into Harlesden Road we entered Roundwood Park. After the first photos of the day we proceeded to circumnavigate another park that welcomed cyclists. From a high point the children enjoyed the view of the children’s playground whereas the adults could see that just beyond there was the café.
Of course we stopped at the café and sat in the garden. Some people bought refreshments, the children had ice creams and were then told they could play in the sand pit while the adults enjoyed the relative peace and company.
Roundwood Park has a little bird enclosure where we all viewed the parakeets, budgies, canaries, finches and everyone looked for the pixie! Here Ruth said goodbye as she was nearer home and needed to get back earlier.
After a trip to the toilets we continued back alongside King Edward VII park to Tiverton Green where this time we stopped and encouraged the children to ride their bikes around the playground with road markings; a great training place for young cyclists. They were having so much fun that one child didn’t want to leave. However, he was persuaded. Here Esther left us as she lived around the corner.
The rest of us continued back along Christchurch Avenue to the lights at Kilburn Station, where Jenny said goodbye, and back to Sidings where we took another group photo before two families set off for Kentish Town from where they’d come. Some of us stayed in the park chatting about bikes and bike workshops in Camden and Brent, where bikes could be repaired and adjusted.
Despite the earlier spitting, it stayed dry for the rest of the afternoon and we even saw the sun a few times. The best bit was the camaraderie between people sharing and enjoying a common interest and finding friendship with people they’d previously not met. And the children so enjoyed it. They were chatting as friends before we’d got off the estate and continued a running commentary all the way round.
I must thank Jenny, Malcolm and Peter who helped marshall everyone although the traffic that we encountered we mostly courteous and considerate. Thank you to everyone who contributed to a lovely, leisurely afternoon’s ride.