A very dull and dismal morning greeted 10 riders at Chestnut Street,and good to have John Blakeley out with the group for the first time.Richard led on a very traditional route out to Hartlip,Upchurch and Lower Halstow and over the bridge to the old Xpress cafe at Queenborough.Always a firm favourite and again it didn't disappoint with excellent food and value( see photo).With no real improvement in the weather except drier,the group did a short route back to Chestnut Street,via Iwade and back of Bobbing.A distance of only 27 flattish miles at 13.7 mph average.without incident.
A big turn out of 18 assembled on a fine morning at East Malling.Matthew Gregory ,from Ashford,who is an occasional Midweekers rider volunteered to lead ,which was greatly appreciated and we set off in 3 groups,including a new lady Paula,and good to see Phil Gerry also. Matthew chose an undulating route outvia Offham,Gover Hill before the levels of East Peckham and Yalding.Continuing on to Collier Street,Paula was struggling,so in order to allow the main group not to be held up too much,A few including Russell and me decided to shorten our ride a bit with her and dropped off at Helens cafe,Staplehurst,whilst Matthew took his group to the Garden centre on the A229 near Knoxbridge..The rides back were fairly similar,with the main group doing a bit of an extended route out from Marden to Chainhurst and directly up Red Hill,Wateringbury with Matthew taking a bit of a tumble on route,but fortunately not too serious,before returning to East Malling.Peter and Denise who live near Ashford were kind enough to give Matthew a lift home.Both rides were in excess of 40 miles,with the smaller group taking a slightly more direct route without incident.
Firstly a huge thanks and well done to Big Tony for grasping the responsibility to quickly plan and lead us to Penhurst. Typical Tony though....HILLS, he clearly loves the inclines, but then again don't we all!
The route was excellent and especially as the planning was off the cuff, but all with a high degree of confidence and enthusiasm. We headed toward the Pilgrims Way to the peculiarly pronounced village of Trottiscliffe, Through Addington, Offam and then through some lovely countryside to Crouch, Dunks Green, and Plaxtol. Nearing Hildenborough we were confronted by a very Victor Meldrew, who insisted we need to consider where we wait at the side of the road. Many descriptions of the concerned fellow were voiced, gladly all appropriate but all diplomatic and tactful!
Stopped at Penhurst where the poshest beans on toast was served up to Ian Johnston, pic on Strava.
Headed back through Tonbridge, Plaxtol up to Ightham then up onto the Pilgrims way to Old London road. Fantastic route enhanced by the banter along the way. AB Flapjacks (best ever), to finish off a great day.
Mention in Despatches (MID) for Tony, thank you, a fab route, ....clearly born to lead.
A new starting point at the Moor Hawkhurst saw 11 riders eventually turn up,on a dry and promising to be a lovely day.It was generally decided to give a route out to Hastings a go,so with Richard leading,it started off towards Bodiam.Unfortunately Ray was still suffering from an earlier illness and quickly,and sensibly decided to call it a day.The remaining 10 carried on past Bodiam Castle and onto Cripps Corner and the pretty village of Seddlescombe,where a stop was made to see the white geese lording it on the village green,unperturbed by passing traffic,but looking very menacing.On again,and inadvertently reaching the dreaded A21. Sincere thanks to Tony Palmer and Gary,who quickly consulted their OS app on their phones,and found a much quieter country route to Battle.A stop at the Abbey to take a breather,as by then the undulations were taking their toll.Tony continued to be ride leader and carried on through Catsfield toward Bexhill,before descending to Hastings via Warrior Square.At that point Sarah and Lisa went missing,and Rachel said they had gone shopping.Little did us males know that they had popped in to buy swimming cossies!. We rode along the cycle path by the sea front towards the harbour,and found a fish and chip cafe.Sara and Lisa then disappeared. ,and we ordered our meal on the Costa Del Hastings Yeh right ! Tony asked for a de caffeinated Americano ,but that was a bit posh,so he had to do with a Nescafé and cotton wool bread.Sarah and Lisa eventually joined us having been for a swim.Totally mad. Sarah's fingers had gone white,but they said they enjoyed it!.Tony consulted the app to try and find a different way back,and the group wearily knew that it would first be a climb up out of the town.A brief walk with the bikes through the narrow shopping streets,delayed the inevitable.Anyway,it was up on the A259,then onto hilly but pleasant lanes through Westfield and Seddlescombe,before the long straight B2244 back to Hawkhurst A distance of 39 miles ,ascending 3100 ft,with alternating speeds of fast down hill and slow back up.
Another sunny September morning and 11 turned up minus Richard who had gone whale watching (or was it seal watching?) off Sandwich. Russell proposed a ride to Headcorn which was out voted for an alternative trip to Seasalter and the sea. Attempting to reverse a recent B+ ride Russell led out through Lenham and Charing Heath for a new climb for many of Hart Hill. On past the Bowl Inn to Stalisfield Church with a few hesitations to reach Throwley and Selling. At Brenley, opting to avoid a detour through Boughton Street and Herne, we met the challenge of the Brenley Corner roundabout to eventually take the 3rd exit to Graveney. The Freewheel at Graveney was crowded, it being their Wednesday 'Bus Pass' day resulting in us taking menu choices other than breakfast items. The Chowder fish soup was enjoyed by some, a recommendation for another visit? After the break Russell abdicated his lead with Ralph offering to lead us back to Lenham. Sadly Lisa did not bget to the seaside at Seasalter. Picking up NCR1 in Faversham to turn off it to meet the A2 just before the joining the Faversham Road which presented us with a long and slow incline to Doddingtion. We then took the mucky and challenging climb of the Old Lenham Road to rejoin the Faversham Road before descending the downs to Lenham. Ralph peeling off in Lenham for his ride home leaving 10 of us to return to Dickley Lane and our cars.
38.6 miles at an average of 12.1 mph with 2372 feet of climbing
Route on Strava
Seven riders congregated at Yalding Station on a sunny but very windy morning. While Ralph fiddled with his front derailleur the group debated possible destinations. Tony Palmer was coerced into leading this ride and, without any route planned, the group headed towards Headcorn.
Keeping to sheltered country lanes the group passed Hunton and crossed over the A229 towards Hawkenbury. Wind assisted, the group soon reached Headcorn and Ralph volunteered to lead on to Lenham. A brief stop at the top of the only hill climbed at Boughton Malherbe provided an excellent backdrop (vista in front of the church) for the customary group snap.
Lunch at the fish & chip shop in Lenham exceeded all expectations. The group began their return via Platts Heath, where Ralph and Rebecca peeled off towards their respective abodes. Tony led the group back into the wind passing through Grafy Green, Headcorn, Frittenden and Staplehurst.
For the record, courtesy of Gary, a distance of 44.6 miles at a respectable 14.1 mph average.
A nice group of 12,Ray,Brian,Steve,Rebecca,Tim, Ian,Sarah,Gary,Steph,Tony H and Phil,joined Richard who led on a pleasant morning from Chestnut Street.The outward route went to Bobbing,and Newington,before crossing the A2,and up Meresborough Road to Farthing Corner services.It continued on with a big loop around Bredhurst,before the cafe break at Capstone Country Park,which proved a nice stop sitting outside.It was then back up the hill of Pear Tree Lane to Hempstead,in fairly heavy traffic,before sliding off again onto the track that leads up to Darland Banks and the A2 Gillingham.Itwas then on the cycle path down Iro Hito way to Lower Rainham Road,and Upchurch,where the lanes were chocker blocked due to an accident on the A2.,but the beauty of bikes allowed us to get past the congested traffic.It was then up to Upchurch,where Sarah dropped off,and we lost Gary and Steph,who were trailing and just followed Sarah instead of the group,so they made their own way back.The final leg was through Newington,with a dash on the Danaway Road back to the start.Thankyou Gary for looking after Steph,who is still quite new to cycling A distance of 30 miles,at about 12.2 mph average,with a lot of lumps thrown in.
A small turnout of only 6.Rachel,Lisa,Ralph,Brian,Tony M and Richard,at East Malling on a day which was forecast as rain.Richard led,and went out through the Research Centre,to Aylesford then over the Peters Bridge to Snodland and Paddlesworth.There followed a loop around Trottiscliffe,and Pilgrims Way to the ever popular and great value Oakdene cafe.With the weather closing in a bit ,it was a fairly short return leg,through Offham,where Ralph peeled off,and Tony said that he would like to go to West Malling cycles at Ryarsh.Rachel spied a small tricycle without handlebars on the forecourt and decided to try and take a ride,without too much success,as it had a will of it's own.Nice photo opportunity though!. Back on the road,it was a new experience going through the Leybourne Chase estate,on the site of the old hospital.With it now raining a little harder ,Tony said his farewells,and it was back to the start via West Malling.A shorter than usual distance of only 27 miles at about 12 mph average.
A great turnout of 12 plus the 'elected' leader Russell at Wrotham for our ride on a sunny morning. The route planned was to go to Kelly Holmes' refurbished cafe at the Cyclopark. Ralph had already been there last Saturday but was happy for a re-visit. Richard B had never been to the Cyclopark before. It was great to welcome Ian back from his enforced time out for his first ride in some time. Our ride set off over the M20 footbridge and the warm up climb of the A20 for a right turn onto South Ash Road to Fawkham Green and Horton Kirby. A confusing turn left into a Close which was not a Close in South Darenth and on to Bean and Southfleet to cross the A2 and into the Cyclopark. The park was bustling which was good to see, the cafe had its healthy versions of a full English enjoyed by some. Discussions over the challenge of the 25% Lockyers Hill (see link below) planned for the return led to a wise decision to re-route and avoid it. Within five minutes of having left the 1st puncture of the day befell Rachel - do bikes feel left out at the coffee stops and decide to inflict their revenge? Time taken to fix compensated by removing a loop around Shorne. A fast decent of Cobhambury Road then a right turn for the climb to Luddesdown, Foxendown and Harvel just before which the 2nd puncture befell Keith. Richard B and Bryan K had to go on as they had commitments leaving 11 soon down to 10 when Keith, having cycled in, headed straight for home. Arriving safely back at Wrotham having covered a modest 30 miles at an average of 12 mph but 2250 feet of climbing.
The route on Strava
Top 10 toughest climbs in the Kent Alps
By way of a change,it was decided to do a ride over the other side of the water in Essex.Eleven turned up at the ferry crossing at the town Pier Gravesend,and filled the deck with the bikes.The slightly more mature managed to use their bus passes and get a freebie.(sorry everyone else).Sarah L,phoned to say she was running late and would do her own ride.On reaching Tilbury,Richard led,but very quickly,Tony P had problems with a new rubbing mudguard,which was taken off and hidden in a bush for retrieval on the return.The route went via Tilbury marshes,not the prettiest part of the county,with dozens of Gypsy horses in nearby fields.It was then onto Chapel St Mary,and on relatively quiet roads to Orsett and charming Hornden on the Hill. A brief stop at Langdon nature reserve for calls of nature,and carrying on to Noaks Bridge,and various lanes to Hanningfield .Just before the Reservoir,a few of the riders nearly ended up in the bushes,when a van towing a wide trailer passed extremely close on a bend with oncoming traffic.However the break at the cafe was pleasant and tranquil,with lovely views over the waterThe return leg was identical, but by sheer chance just after leaving the cafe the group saw Sarah travelling in the opposite direction,so she turned round and joined us.Another stop at Langdon for ice creams!then back to Tilbury just in time for a ferry,where initially the Captain said he could only take 10 bikes,but soon relented ,so everyone got on with a bit of a squeeze.An overall distance of about 46 miles,mainly in the sunshine.