From Rachel Chacon
Important things first, thank you Kevyn for the gooseberries which were put safely in our cars. We had a tricky decision with just seven of us, D or D+ ride? D ride won when we all heard that Sarah Lewis had brought her "heavy" bike in order to load it up with cherries from Brogdale. Mike Lambourne's D+ ride was put away for a rainy day. Kevyn then discovered that she had left her shoes behind. We reassured her of all the daft things we have all forgotten (at least she remembered the gooseberries) and sent her off to get them, agreeing to meet up in Oad Street after our climb from Lenham onto the North Downs via Stede Hill to Bicknor. Thanks to Mike's knowledge of the roads, Kevyn did manage to rejoin us although not at Oad Street due to my lack of knowledge of my own route - this was a slow start and Sarah needed to be back for a 3.30 appointment, so we got our skates on and headed at pace through Tunstall, Rodmersham Green, Bapchild, Teynham and on to Oare. There is a beautiful nature reserve at Oare (Saxon for marsh/fen) and many birds to be spotted, but to save time we missed this loop and pushed on for Brogdale having done 22 miles. We settled for a surprising break ... surprising because there was just one solitary carton of cherries left at Brogdale (national fruit collection!) and no other fruit of any kind to be seen, let alone to buy for Sarah's panniers. John wisely jumped on the last box of cherries which we all enjoyed. Sarah was sadly obliged to fill her panniers with plastic bottles of cider, heavy bike now loaded with heavy cider and me thinking we need to get Sarah back for her appointment with 10 undulating miles to go with a cider wagon in tow. We pedalled on and as I was making very good progress (I thought) up a rather long Hill I was overtaken with great ease by said cider wagon! Bravo Sarah. We descended into Lenham via Hubbards Hill and made our way back to the car park, welcomed by unsweetened gooseberry compote as the sun had been beating down on our cars. Gary's gadget told us that we had done 31.7 miles, 1700 feet at 11.6 mph, and thank you Gary for reuniting Kevyn and bike with her car back in Oad Street. Team working at its best. A lovely ride thanks to everyone.