Seven of us headed off towards Borough Green through Crouch the back of Hadlow, Golden Green across the A26 to Shipbourne (how do you really pronounce it?) and on to Hildenborough. I needn't have worried about not having done a recce as Rachel was a great back up, helping with a few detours to avoid the traffic.
We stopped for a break at Teal cafe and enjoyed the sunshine on the outdoor terrace. This was a new stop and everyone seemed to agree that the food was really good but the service less so.
Leaving the cafe we headed up the A21 on the pavement. It was a stiff climb up to a Saint Julien Road where we left the main road and skirted Knowle Park through Godden Green and up to Seal. We continued on the drag up to the Pilgrims Way and at the junction we contemplated an extra loop or a straight journey back to Wrotham. I was heavily outnumbered as the group decided they wanted to do the extra loop. We had feared the worst as a couple of other cyclists, one of whom had suffered an embarrassing fall at the junction, had warned us that the first turning on the right was a nasty hill. So that is where we headed. On turning into Rowdow Lane the sign said a gradient of 14%....it really was like being back on Alpe d'Huez!
Thinking that was the hills done, we soon hit Magpie Bottom where the gradient was 16% in places. Thankfully everyone had their climbing legs on and it was not long before we were descending and back on the Pilgrims Way towards Wrotham.
In all we covered 32 miles at an average speed of 12.3 mph. It ia also worth mentioning we climbed over 2,800 ft. A great effort by everyone.
ps a special mention to Kevyn for bringing some fresh gooseberries. I confirm that having just eaten a gooseberry cobbler they were delicious!