Seven of us set off from Staplehurst on an icey cold but beautiful sunny morning, wary of the possible conditions ahead. But the sun had done it’s job almost perfectly and we found ourselves dismounting only a couple of times to avoid mishaps.
At the first hill somewhere after Cranbrook, I informed everyone that, according to my reading of Strava, this would be the toughest hill on the route. But they all knew better than me … that Rachel still hasn’t got the hang of Strava! Having tried too diligently to apply Kevin’s out of the saddle training (Tuesday evenings), I was too exhausted by the time we got to The Hill (12%, re Russell) and ended up walking. Ray very kindly kept me company on my walk which gave me an excellent opportunity to compliment him yet again on his amazing parsnips. We’re all looking forward to the 2018 harvest. Sorry about that hill folks. Chris Moon knew it would happen – that’s why he offered to lead the D group! Coward!
After Cranbrook we took the loopy route to Rolvenden to take in the views. Navigation of unnamed roads meant I had to keep taking gloves off to consult Strava, slowing progress, so I learnt to ‘swipe and wipe’ with my nose to sniff out our route. We successfully arrived at The Bakehouse Café in Biddenden having done 20 hilly miles, to find the B group sitting rather too comfortably at our prebooked table! They were so apologetic, we decided not to fight them for it and waited patiently for them to finish. After an excellent breakfast, Brian expressed a need for cake – which he had and ate. I might have helped a little. A long break but very welcome sitting out in the sunshine on such a chilly day.
The remaining ten miles via Frittenden and Hawkenbury were ‘flattish’, enabling us to run off the lactic acid from earlier hills (thanks Kevin, Tuesday evenings).
Total 32 miles at 11.8 mph, 1900 ft. Thanks Team.
Tony Munn led 16 riders on a glorious very early spring morning on a circular ride to Hadlow. The group left East Malling via Rocks Road before heading out to Wateringbury and the first of the climbs up Bow Hill to Kenwood. The group then continued on the flat through Yalding out past Laddingford and Paddock Wood. Cycling past the usual café stops they continued out to Five Oak Green and Tudeley before looping back to Golden Green. A short cycle ride then took them to the café at Hadlow College. A shorter ride back took them up Matthews Lane and Butchers Lane, Tonys attempt to get a PB on the later failed by 15 seconds but he did a PB up Matthews Lane, finally through Kings Hill and the By Pass before arriving back at the start.
Distance 29 miles Average Speed 13mph 1451 ft of Climb
Well,at least it started dry at Mote Park,and Darren led with Tony M,Chris M,Jonathan and Richard V in tow. Leaving the park then up Detling Hill footpath and onto the very mucky country lanes to Hartlip,before crossing the A2 and passing through Upchurch and Lower Halstow before reaching the Mews Cafe at Iwade.A nice relaxing new stop.On leaving ,the rain was starting in earnest,and it was into a headwind along the Old A249 to Bobbing where a white coloured gunge was seen coming from Darren’s rear tyre.With everyone fearing a lengthy hold up for a puncture,Darren just rotated the wheel and the tubeless tyre quickly sealed itself with no real loss of pressure.Brilliant! Quickly carrying on ,it was up to Oad Street,before the descent of Hollingbourne Hill. A very puddly Pilgrims Way and Water Lane(aptly named) awaited,before the final stage through Bearsted and Otham to the park.A distance of 34.5 miles with 2200 ft ascents at about 12 mph average.Great ride Darren,Thankyou
Nine riders left Yalding station in cold but dry conditions. We were soon warming ourselves up with the ascent of Kenward Rd. As we cut through the the lanes towards Coxheath we were forced on a detour down Smiths Hill and the inevitable climb back up to Heath Rd.....extra climbing which everyone was delighted about after I'd promised a flattish ride.
We descended down Westerhill Rd where unfortunately the sharp left into Barnes Lane caught out Rachel, Bob, and Gary. Soon realising what had happened we hung around in Redwall Lane and after quick phone call we all joined up, with Rachel muttering a few choice expletives to Allan. We carried on via Hawkenbury and Frittenden and got to the cafe at about midday after a longish first leg of c 22 miles. Darren had ridden to the start without having breakfast so was somewhat peckish.
Service was a little slow but with a shorter second leg of 11 miles we were not in a major rush, particularly as the conditions were deteriorating outside. We left the cafe in heavy drizzle and this carried all the way home via the Hush Heath vineyard and the familiar route back to Yalding via Laddingford. Chris and Rachel peeled off on the way back so seven made it back to Yalding, arriving just before the D group. About 34 miles covered at an average of 13.3mph.
A compact group of 6 Russell,Tony M, Brian K,Gary,and Ray for a ride that started from Gads Hill Higham ,and with Richard leading headed off for a Grain stop,on a dry morning.With a mainly following wind,it was a pleasant run out through Cliffe and Cooling,and even the 3 bears hills up to High Halstow seemed okay..On arrival at Grain,there was a brief stop to look across the estuary for clear views of Southend,but hungry tummies soon ensured a visit to the Beach cafe.A really lovely stop.Getting back out again,it was immediately into a challenging wind,which lasted the entire remainder of the ride.The route went to Middle Stoke ,To recce a future cafe stop at the airfield before heading to Hoo St Wurburgh,and Chattenden,and the last little climb of Dillywood Lane to the finish,with the rain just starting.A distance of 32 miles at 12 mph average..
The Weather was really grotty,and only 4 turned up at Headcorn,so inevitably it was going to be a joint ride. C group who apparently are more resilient with about 10 also gathered there before their start. Brian set off with Rachel,Inci and Richard V in tow and headed off for a Yalding stop at Teapot Island cafe.Firstly going out on the flat and waving to Tony P and Chris M,the only riders on a B + route to Tenterden from Staplehurst,and then another hello when seeing a good turnout of Inters + shortly afterwards. Carrying on to Collier Street,where Kevin Griffiths from the Fast Inters came up from behind and joined all the way to Yalding for a chat.It was a relief to get to the stop to dry and warm up,and meet up with Krissi and her group of 5 from the Easy riders + in the cafe on it’s first day of opening this year.All to soon however,the wet clobber was donned,and Brian threw in about looping back via Yalding Hill,( in preparation for Mont Venteoux later in the year.).Without too much consternation,and a chance to get warm, it became a worthwhile challenge.Thinking that it was plain cycling thereafter,on going down Westerland Hill,Inci got a puncture,which became a proper struggle,as it seemed that the Gator tyre was glued to the rim,and needed a penknife to prise them apart,and a real joint effort.So after getting really cold ,it was a relief again to pedal back to Headcorn via Rabbits Cross .A distance of 32 miles at 13 mph average,and thoroughly soaked.
Tony Munn led 19 members on a joint ride from Aylesford to The Village Café at Paddock Wood. The ride started with the long climb through Ditton Sweets Lane and Wateringbury Road before the decent into the Village. Another climb then followed up Bow Hill before the decent down Kenwood Road to Yalding. On the flat the riders skirted Hunton, then cycled through Chainhurst before heading out around Collier Street to the break. Some quick action by the ride leader secured 19 places in the café. The ride back went through East Peckham and towards the A26 before turning off for the last of the two climbs Matthews and Butchers Lane. Kings Hill and East Malling were the last two places passed before the drop back to Aylesford.
Distance 36 miles Average Speed 12.5 MPH Elevation 1400ft
What a great turnout of 23 for the D groups at Barming.Fortunately Chris Moon took about half on his ride to Paddock Wood,whilst 10 others ,including Dee and Linton plus Anita from the B groups joining Richard for his lead to Chart Sutton.After the recent heavy rains,it was inevitably going to be a mucky,puddly ride.Leaving the start ,and going down to cross the Medway and railway line to get to Tovil,and enjoying the brand new super bridge that crosses both.(sorry about the two wrong turnings just before).It was then uphill ,before arriving at Loose village,and more uphills to Boughton Monchelsea, onto the Ridge .A bit of a loop through Sutton Valence and East Sutton,before the arrival for the break at the Ridge golf club.A really warm welcome by the staff,who had set aside a room specially,with coffee and teas .Quite an extended stop due to the numbers,but good value and well worth it.Going out again,fortunately being dry still,but into a bit of a headwind.Russ had to drop off quite quickly to cycle to Staplehurst to call the AA about a family car breakdown,whilst everyone else carried on the return route,which entailed going to Coxheath and East Farleigh,before the lump of Teston Hill.Several riders dropped off near the North Pole Pub to make their own way home,whilst the remaining few went back to Barming.A short ride of only 25 miles at about 11.5 mph,without any problems.
For the third year in what is becoming an annual Christmas Ride 20 riders left Marden for Headcorn in full festive costume. The combined D and D+ groups were complimented by members of the B and other SFA groups. Sweets were distributed before Father Christmas (Mike) lead the Elves and other suitably dressed riders on a flat route via Hunton and Staplehurst to Headcorn Crossroads where photos were taken followed by a quick rehearsal of singing lead by Chris Moon. The group then cycled into Headcorn singing and making as much noise as possible before stopping at the George and Dragon for a festive coffee stop. Chris Moon presented the coveted quality prize to the best dressed bike and rider. This year the joint winners Rachel and Sarah, had to share the prize. Mike then gave a vote of thanks and card to Richard Valentine the Coordinator of both the D groups and the Midweekers. After good fare and many sweets the riders left Headcorn via the aerodrome route back to Marden. A total of 32 miles average 12.5 mph. A ride to welcome in the spirit of Christmas!
My sincere thanks to Tony for stepping in at the last moment to lead the joint ride.Darren on his brand new belt driven bike,had volunteered for the D Group also at short notice,but with only 12 turning up at Snodland,it was decided to do a Group cycle. On a cold,but gloriously sunny morning,with more than a hint of frost and icy puddles about,Tony took the group on a figure of 8 route.By the time they reached Peters Bridge,the only puncture of the day had befallen Roger,but with Gary on hand,no problem.The delay enabled Richard Byatt,who didn’t make the start on time to catch up.Tony then went off along the bottom road to the M 2 bridge at Borstal,before returning via the upper road to Burhsm and then onto the Lower Bell and Sandling.The new cycle path from the Malta to Aylesford,avoiding the very busy Forstal Road,was well appreciated.It was intended to make the stop at the Hilltop cafe,East Malling,but on arrival it was rammed,so plan B was the Jungle cafe,Addington.On arrival the Easy riders+ were just leaving,so the timing was good.Coming out later,with thickening clouds,Tony maintained the loop ,firstly through Trottiscliffe before Ryarsh and Birling,by which time,riders were starting to peel off.Arriving back at Snodland with only 7 having done 30 Miles at 11.8 mph average with 1888 feet climbing.Thankyou Tony Great ride.