it was the 2nd bike ride on the Grand Union Canal for me today and all was going swimmingly until i got a puncture. not nice. had to push the bike 3 miles home - but the sun was shining, company was good and plenty to look at along the way.
the route north from Willesden Junction to Horsenden Hill started off a bit industrial looking but gradually became greener and more countrified and there were plenty of birds to spot - canada geese, mallards, a grey heron, robins, a chaffinch, coots, moorhens and of course...pigeons. the Grand Union is a great little ride, as are many other London canals...as long as you don't get A PUNCTURE!!!
actually a friend asked what were my recommended routes for quiet cycling. for me its all about a nice easy (ie; flat) ride, with some nice views and some interesting wildlife (human or animal). so my preferred cycle routes at the moment are along canals close to home - as mentioned the Grand Union Canal - tho normally i go down the opposite way to that which i took today - to Portobello Road, Paddington Basin and lovely Little Venice. also there's the Regents Canal - which i usually walk (but you can cycle) thru Regents Park, past the zoo (you can actually see the animals), thru Camden (more animals...of the 2 legged variety), past Kings Cross (behind eurostar & there's a little farm there too) and up to Islington where you have to get off, but i'm sure it continues further eastwards.
a good site for planning trips is the cycle-route planner. of course i love this girly blogspot for all things cycle chic (great cycle products...tho a bit spenny) and tips about insurance and whatnot. i would highly recommend checking out the Guardian's bike blog and podcast for tips.
and its worth pointing out that there's a whole load of cycle friendly cafes open now too:
Towpath Cafe (Regents Canal)
Look mum no hands (Old Street)
Lock 7 (Regents Canal)
The View Tube (near the Olympic Park)
Foffa Bikes (Aldgate East ...beautiful handmade bikes!)