Two ways to take the title, but by the end of our breakfast, I know how most of us felt. Note to self: always phone the cafe beforehand to check they’re not having their monthly Dachsund Reunion!
Nine of us set off from Wrotham with Kevin and Tom joining us for a short way to offer some advice to the Mt Ventoux gang. Having promised our second timer, Sarah that I would plan a ‘proper D ride’, I had to apologise for my inability to avoid hills from Wrotham. Sarah put on a brave smile and got on her bike. Well she had returned to us after the previous week’s ride, clearly swayed by the excellent company … or maybe the hills.
Out of Wrotham through Basted Mill and up to Comp and Offham, we braced ourselves for the climb up Birling Hill and along to Trosley Country Park, to find that Sarah was still talking to me.
We ate our breakfast as fast as we could, accompanied by what can only be described as a relentless barking din from hundreds of dachsunds. We were very glad to get out of there and on with our ride via Fairseat, Stansted, Ash and back to Wrotham via the downhill on Exedown, much to everyone’s relief. 27 miles and 2000 ft at 10.8 mph. Mick and Angie announced my new nickname. Rachill.
A group of nine ladies (welcome to Sarah M, on her first D ride) and three chaps (felt like we gatecrashed a hen party), set off from Bell Lane Staplehurst, on what turned out to be a very hot day. We initially trundled off westwards, took a wrong turning that went unnoticed , but still ended up on the Maidstone Road SW of Marden. We stopped for a drink after ascending Yew Tree Green Road. The fast descent took us to Pearsons Green Road, after heading westwards for 3/4 of a mile , we took Willow Lane , and headed north through the lanes to our lunch stop at Teapot Island. Good fast service as usual. After the break we headed towards Yalding , ascending Kenward Road and the mucky Small Profits. We stuck to the ridge before a hairy descent of Westhill Road. We crossed A229 into Butt Green Lane , taking an assortment of wiggly lanes back towards Staplehurst, with a sprint to the lights. Back to Bell Lane with a distance covered of 31.2 miles at an average speed of 12.4 MPH
A group of seven select women and four fine men set out from East Malling, with John in the lead and Sarah riding as back marker to avoid any losses (see D ride report 10 March). We welcomed the friendly Deborah to her first SFA ride. The sun was shining, the wind was absent and the roads were quiet. What could possibly go wrong? Well, read on! We rode through West Malling, Ofham, Crouch and Dunk’s Green, past Poult Wood golf course and around some lovely lanes through East Peckaham to arrive at Brookside Garden Centre, Hadlow. We enjoyed prompt, friendly service, beating another group of cyclists to the front of the queue. We sipped our tea on the peaceful patio in the sunshine, feeling pleased that we had chosen cycling over watching Megan and Harry on TV! The route back was slightly more hilly, along Common Road, through Mereworth, up Butcher’s Hill and on to King’s Hill. That’s when Chris had serious words with his new bike and asked us to continue whilst he and Jane tried to coax his tyre back on to a tubeless rim. We took the cycle path along the A228, then a route via Pikey Lane back. Chris and Jane arrived safely a short while afterwards. Distance: 28 miles; average speed: 12.5 mph; discussion about tubeless tyres: endless.
7 hand picked riders set off from Mote Park and cycled out through Boughton Monchelsea. Lovely views of the Weald flashed past as we flew down Weirton Hill, along verdant lanes to Frittenden and on to Headcorn Aerodrome for refreshments. After the break we headed out to Egerton, round to Boughton Malherbe. At the top of the hill one rider declared that his recent diet of "Fosters and Fags" might not be working. Through Kingswood to Langley and back into Mote Park via Downswood.
37 miles Average 13mph (further and faster than the D plus group )
Eight of us set out from Yalding via Lughorse Lane, across to Chainhurst and round the back of Marden. There we found the Kent Wildlife Trust meadow where thousands of rare green veined orchids are allegedly in full bloom (tip off from a local). What a beautiful sight, much appreciated by all. A rare treat that we could have just cycled past so easily without noticing. We also saw the Chequer Tree, one of the last in Kent that is clearly struggling to survive (same tip off). A lovely interval in our ride.
Back in the saddle and over to Sheephurst sLane, (oops, it’s the G&T) across to Pearsons Green and on to Grays Café, Brenchley. Despite the bowls match going on the café was empty and we were served very efficiently, particularly if your name was Sarah.
After our breakfast we had a short climb to get to the top of Pixot Hill. We flew down Pixot enjoying the spectacular views, down to Collier Street and on to Yalding via Vicarage Lane.
After the ride for all stopped off for an ice cream at Teapot Island. Dave turned to me and said ‘lucky those orchids were in flower Rachel’. ‘No Dave’, I replied. ‘More judgement than luck’ and we all laughed out loud.
Mike led a group of 5,Inci,Paul Cook,John Caves and John Blakeley on a dull morning from Ditton Community Centre and headed to Knole Park,Sevenoaks.Out through West Malling ,Offham,Crouch and down Winfield Lane to Basted,and the very sharp Star Hill to the A227 across the Tonbridge Road,and all the lumps to Bitchets Green,and the St Julian’s entry of the park.A leisurely ride through,watching the deers(not the old dears) .and avoiding the golfers and admiring the House.The return was via the same undulating and challenging route .A distance of 29.1 miles at 10.6 mph.Mike would like to thank the Group for their support.
A warm spring day and five of us set out towards Pluckley, but not going up the hill into the village. We all enjoyed the bluebells in the verges and lambs in the fields. A lovely flat ride of 26 miles at an average speed of 12.5mph. We took our break at Bethersden garden centre where we received the usual great service. Then back along the lanes via Frittenden avoiding the potholes.
Although it was a large turnout of about 14 at Barming,only a group of 4 decided to do the D ride.So,Richard,John Blakeley ,Brian Ovenden and Neal Welsh,headed off on a dry morning to a new stop at Tyland Barn,wildlife centre,Sandling. A leisurely pace took them out to Aylesford and Eccles to the Lower Bell,where a puncture immediately made a split in Richard’s new front tyre.Yet another lack of confidence in Continental 4000 tyres.( third to date).The bin is awaiting.!. From there it was onto the stop,at Tyland Barn,which is ideal with very interesting displays for small groups,but not too much seating. A shortish return,via the new tow path to Aylesford village and up to the Wateringbury Road,where Richard dropped off,leaving Neal,John and Brian to make their way back along North Pole Rd to the start. A distance of about 23 Miles.
Please See Kevyn’s report on the D Group forum
Friday night John C. and Sarah L. decided their plan to lead an undulating ride over the Downs to Brogdale Farm might risk mucky roads and slush, so they left the snow search to Russell and the D+ group. John mapped a flatter route to Bethersden and led a group of 12, which included a new rider -welcome to Neil - and a returning rider. They went south, under grey skies, along fairly quiet, occasionally undulating, country roads, passing banks of snow. The route took them past Egerton House and Pluckley station, to arrive at Greenways Garden Centre cafe. The friendly manager had reserved tables and provided prompt , efficient service. The rain had started to fall during the break, so John set off apace over the gradual incline back to Lenham. He led up through Little Chart crossing over the M20 towards Charing Heath. Just before the Red Lion, John B and (young) Sarah, bringing up the rear, spotted a pair of glasses on the road, which they kindly stopped to recover. During this time the group had turned right but had not left a backstop in view. Apologies to all. As a result John and Sarah sailed by and after several searches and phone calls, they opted to continue, clocked up extra mileage and arrived back before the rest of the group! The glasses were gratefully received by their owner. Snowdrops spotted: many; mileage: 29.5; average speed: 11.1 mph; total elevation: 883 ft.