Seven riders turned out at Headcorn for this very cold and frosty ride to Bredgar Café. Lot of ice present so ‘steady as we go’ was the plan.
Straight up Ulcombe Hill to start, which was a nice warm up! We then headed towards Langley Heath and onto Back Street up to Bearsted. We then headed up Water Lane which was very icy in places, but common sense prevailed and we all got to Pilgrims way safely.
Our ‘loveliest’ hill of the today was next, Hollingbourne. Such a nice feeling when you get over that last steep bit at the top. From the top, a fantastic 3 mile descent down to Bredgar Café. However, Tony, Pete and Paul, decided to make it a 5 mile ride as they over shot it!
A very good café, with great service and quality food.
Our ride home was to loop round Tunstall, and head back up to Bexon lane and then up very pleasant climb to Wormshill onto Stede Hill. Crossing the A20, we headed up to Grafty Green and then the fabulous long downhill and flat run in to Headcorn.
Despite several sick notes, eleven hardy stalwarts ventured out on a grey and breeezy day from Aylesford to Rodmersham. No doubt it was Tony's impromptu route climbing up Warren Road to reach the top of Bluebell Hill that enticed these stalwarts. An interesting climb in that it was difficult to avoid back wheel spin on the green road whilst dodging the unwelcome cars ploughing down the single lane.
The weather conditions deteriorated after the break with the temperature dropping at least 5 degrees centigrade and the wind strengthening into the stalwart's faces.
A distance of 42.3 miles at average speed of 12.5 mph and elevation gain of 2,651 feet.
The first ride of the decade and seven riders set off on a route that promised to work off the Christmas excess. As we made the climb up to Frant two deer appeared from the verges and narrowly missed Phil's wheels; not sure who was more startled. The route to Ticehurst took in a new loop via Stoneygate which we all agreed was one to do again.
After the stop at the Dale Hill golf club the climbing continued and by the time we got back to Brenchley we were all pretty cooked. We covered 37 miles at an average speed of 12.7mph and over 3,300 ft of ascent.
Brian led six riders from Barming, on a fairly flat route (as claimed by Brian), to Shorne Country Park on a grey but dry day. On the return, Tony announced that Buckland Road was a new route for the group. Brian stated that the reason for this fact would become apparent in about ½ mile. Lockyers Hill is a beast of a climb with 1 in 4 gradient, particularly in damp slippery conditions, and a 4 X 4 insisting right of way. Perhaps, a better challenge for the Summer.
A distance of 40.61 miles at an average of 13.8 mph with an ascent of 2,572 flat feet.
This was nothing short of an epic outing today. If dodging the showers wasn’t enough (which we did very successfully), the wind strengthened progressively as we approached Grain. We had a welcomed break to fix my puncture along the way, every one chipping in to hasten getting us on the road again. The wind was brutal, just pedal-standing at times… Still, the coffee break was excellent, but the trouble was that we had to go back into the wind afterwards, to get home.
The totals are about 40 miles at 13mph average, 680m of ascent. A very good average under the circumstances, as we had 2 minor crashes in the bargain!
Report by Tony Palmer
The hard overnight frost and mist put this ride, planned by Gary Pearce, in jeopardy; however, eight riders, with a strategy to keep to main roads to avoid ice, warmed up nicely after ascending Wrotham Hill. The group received an unwelcome cold shock, however, as they dipped into a pocket of freezing mist in Valley Road Fawkham. Goggles became misted immediately and Garmins repeatedly warned that the group were off course. Luckily the fog disappeared after Gravesend to reveal a bright blue sky over the Medway Estuary. A distance of 41.25 miles at average of 13.6 mph with ascent of 2,325 feet.
Report by Linton Schwarz
Expected rain or not, the weather-hardened B+ elite rode out of Staplehurst town to Rolvenden regardless. Colin and Angela complimented the group making 16 in total. So due south we went, to Lilly’s Café in Rolvenden, chosen for two main reasons. One, the best full English west of Ashford. Two, the best selection of kid’s toy vehicles anywhere! Just too good an opportunity to miss… Oh yes, there was plenty of time to enjoy the scenery too. Poor old Pete ‘the puncture’ Searle had three, scattered thoughtfully across the whole ride, giving some of us time to have a breather. A distance of 33 miles at 13mph average, and just over 1,800ft of ascent.
By Brian Kavanagh
Brian commenced his Pyrenees training early by dragging five of his fellow riders up the biggest lumps he could find, including Vigo Hill and Row Dow, between East Malling and Lullingstone Country Park. Brian had five riders in tow when he left East Malling; however, Little Phil, made up an excuse, just before the ascents, about apparently watching Gillingham play football, as if! Tony bailed out after climbing 3,750 feet with the lame excuse, claiming, in between rapid breaths, that he had to get back early.The remaining hardy souls completed the distance of 43.09 miles at an average of 11.7 mph with an excellent effort to gain an elevation of over 4,078 feet.
We had the lot on this ride from Mote Park, very low temperature, fog, then sunshine, dry conditions and even a little rain towards the end. Seven riders headed to our café stop at Headcorn Airfield. We headed up Kingsdown and going above the fog covering Maidstone to the lovely sunshine as we headed towards Langley Heath, then across to Kingswood and to a lovely descent of Ulcombe hill. We then headed East working our way to climb Rock Hill to Egerton. Once we reached Pluckley that was all the climbing done for this half of the ride. A lovely flat ride to Headcorn Airfield to the very busy café.
The second half of the route was a little more challenging in that we had Ulcombe Hill to conquer with café legs! However, we breezed up this and headed down to Lenham before we had the pleasure of climbing Stede Hill. The weather did start to change a little with a drop of rain in the air. However, we cracked on to another lovely descent of Hollingbourne Hill, then along the Pilgrims way to Detling and then down to Mote park to finish. A great ride enjoyed by all, 43.7 miles, 2325 feet climbing at an average pace of 14.6 mph.
Report by Tony Wells
Eight set out from Barming, with Tony Wells leading, along North Pole Road, via West Malling, then along some devious roads, including Styants Bottom, to Birches Cafe at Seal.
The return included passing the Snail at Stone Street, then down into Plaxtol. Tony then took the group up the Roughway!!!
The group then headed towards Wateringbury, but turned off at Pizien Well, to go over Gibbs Hill and past chez Palmer. They continued up towards The Good Intent pub and eventually climbed back up the hill from East Farley Bridge to the start point.
Distance of 38.96 miles with 3120 feet climbing, 2.54 hours ride time at average speed of 13.7 mph