FreeCycle - this was the main reason the whole family were over. Part of the Ride London thing is that it is a proper cycle takeover, granted this is annoying to many people as it effectively shuts down parts of the city for nearly the entire weekend, but if embraced it can offer something for everybody, including the chance to ride around the streets of central London on closed roads. This is the main reason the whole family had come over for what for me was a part work weekend commentating on the Classic on the Sunday.
The kids and I were dropped off at Hyde Park Corner in a black cab, me with my Brompton, them with their kids bikes kindly lent by the legend that is Terry Dolan. Meanwhile their Mummy and Grandma were riding their town bikes through the streets of west London to meet us. From Hyde Park Corner we only had to ride through Marble Arch before the fun and games began on the closed roads of Constitution Hill.
The next couple of hours were a joy, any chance we had of smashing the 5mph average (fortunately nobody was counting, it wasn't that type of day) were ruined because we stopped and played at the Lincoln's Inn Field Festival area. The kids had everything they could ask for and more, it was a purely kiddie festival area, I even bumped into my old friends from CLIF, contrary to the children I had no interest in all of the food goodies they were giving away, having spent years forcing them down in critical racing situations to the point of being sick, ahhhh, the memories...
Until recently the only time I've ridden through London is while racing, I've been privileged enough to know what it's like to cycle on closed roads in the city, yet I never got to enjoy the spectacle like I did during FreeCycle. When you're racing properly there is a tunnel vision to it all, there are so many things you have to concentrate on, and they are constantly switching between your immediate proximity and the road ahead. Very little is taken in beyond the gutters either side of the road.
It was made all the more special to ride amongst thousands with my family, not having to talk about racing even once, only taking the time to explain to the boys what a dome was, or why there are statues, or who Wellington was, or if the Queen was at home, or whether the Bank of England was really filled with gold. For the children it was the first time they saw the most famous landmarks in London, and they did it from a bike - hopefully they'll remember.
It would be wonderful if London can keep this going, so that we can keep doing it, until they have no choice but to remember; and maybe one year we'll break the 5mph average, although I'd prefer it if we never do.