A fairly packed Marden Station start, with a group of 11 in total joining Richard for a nice flat ride to Bethersden Garden Centre. An uneventful and very quiet route along country lanes via Staplehurst and Frittenden to Three Chimneys to the stop,that is now known as Ridley’s Garden Centre. It has been refurbished extensively,and even has a proper toilet now! A senior moment for Richard,when Rachel pointed out to him that he had just used the ladies loo. Oops!! Good service and pricing made it an enjoyable break. The flat ride return continued,via Smarden and Headcorn,where outside the Church were two beautifully painted and maintained vintage steam rollers,that were being used for the Bride for her wedding. Kevyn couldn’t resist the photo opportunity . It was then back to Marden,just about the same time as Russell’s D+ Group,for a catch up. A distance of 25 miles,with insufficient ascents to mention and an average of about 13 mph.
A very nice morning for the meet up at Brooklands Lakes,Car Park, Snodland,with 9 ,including two taster riders Clare and daughter Megan opting to join Richard on a short ride prior to the Sportive the following day. Almost immediately Angie got a puncture,but as always, our saviour Gary leapt into action,and soon everyone was one their way again. A looping ride via Trottiscliffe,and Kings Hill took them to The Ramblers Rest cafe,by the River Medway at Wateringbury. It was very pleasant sitting outside in the sunshine watching life on the river. All too soon it was back in the saddle,and up to Teston and East Malling,then off road through Neville Park back to Snodland.A distance of only 22.3 miles at about 11 mph and 1300 ft ascents.
John led a group of nine riders on a route from Lenham to Headcorn Aerodrome. The rain of the previous day had left additional gravel on some of the lanes but fortunately the ride took place in sunny and warm weather. For the majority of the time the route followed quiet country lanes. The lunch stop at Headcorn Aerodrome was very busy but as usual the service in the cafe was very fast. The group were treated to a display by two Spitfires as well as an intrepid member of the public on a Wing Walking experience. Many thanks to new rider Peter for ensuring the the back markers did not get lost at one of the junctions. The ride was incident free apart from a minor chain problem on Peter’s bike.
Distance 30.7 miles, average speed 12.7 mph and elevation 1319ft
Back to pre Covid numbers with 19 turning up (pre booked) at Wrotham. 14 opted for the D ride so with 2 groups and leaders we could achieve a back on your bike paced ride as well as a normal paced 23 mile ride. Wanting to take advantage of the the great Knatts Valley downhill run to Farningham we climbed Wrotham Hill to descend down Tinker Pot Lane. A magical run through the fields of Cow Parsley to Farningham then around the back of Eynsford Castle to Eynsford crossing the River Darent using the bridge rather than the ford! The main road to Lullingstone and the Country Park. A run back via Shoreham and Otford marred by fly tipping on the Pilgrims Way at Heaverham (now reported to Sevenoaks DC) we achieved a dry run with no incidents. Great to have some pre lockdown friends back out with us again. 23 miles at average of 11.5 mph.
Just 5 started off from Staplehurst,following Heather ,Trevor and Richard B having had long ride in’s. Richard V led and took the group out to Frittenden and Biddenden ,then a few lumps before arriving at the Community cafe at Benenden.where Richard B left. A shortish return firstly to Cranbrook where Heather veered off ,then back on the main road to Staplehurst.A distance of 24 miles and 1200 ft ascents.
With 17 wanting a final Club ride before Christmas, it had to separated into 3 bubbles setting off at different places. Mike Lambourne ,who traditionally hosts the pre festive ride set off in his full Santa costume with plenty of goodies from Marden with his 5 little elves.He just about out did Richard Barsley for the best beard.Their ride took them to Tonbridge for a takeaway from Greggs and a sit by the river. The only downside was the presence of the puncture devil who delivered 4 punctures.An overall distance of 39 flat miles,at 13 mph average.
Brigitte ,on her first lead, took her group of 6 from Ditton Community Centre,which was being also used as a COVID innoculation Station. With the puncture devil being elsewhere, they didn’t suffer any punctures or mechanicals ,but had a far more hilly ride of 2050 ft ascents, and had their takeaway in the dry at Detling Community Centre, They managed a mucky ride of 34 miles..
Richard led the third bubble of 5 from the new starting point of Larkfield village hall,on an uneventful ride to the takeaway at Camer Park,near Meopham. Again,the bikes were quickly very dirty after a period of rain,but thankfully no incidents or problems. The main highlight was passing Santa’s sleigh,being drawn by two magnificent black horses in full plumage,along the A 227 at Culverstone.and seeing his helpers distributing presents..It would have made a great photo. The ride was only 29 miles,and about 1500 ft climbs. and for all the groups arriving back to shortly find out that we had gone into a tier 4 lockdown,and the suspension of club rides again.Not a fitting end to a very challenging cycling year.
Two riders Mike and Ray formed a bubble to ride from Harrietsham Church to Headcorn. The fields in Harrietsham were covered in snow from the snowstorm the day before, it was thawing nicely and the roads were okay to cycle. Near Staplehurst a large area was flooded, luckily only one section of road was totally covered with flood water, we did however manage to cycled through it. All the shops were open at Headcorn following the lockdown and most of the cafes were selling take a-way snacks, we were spoilt for choice. Finding the shortest queue we purchased our hot drinks. The route back was via Egerton Village where two older ladies were having a picnic with basket, flask and lunch in the middle of the green. Being well wrapped up, they were a reflection of the time, no mixing indoors for friends from different households.
Stats: 30 plus miles at a good pace to be enjoyed by another bubble at a future date!
Two different starting places and times for the two bubbles of 4 and 5 ,from East Malling. Richard led his 4,which included Richard Barsley ,who started his cycling day from Shoreham. However with heavy rain forecast,it was a nearer stop at Borough Green,and back through a deluge of rain. Julie led the other group of 5 intending a ride to Rochester,but again with the heavy rain,cut it short with their break at Aylesford,and a swift return to the start..
Kevyn took the lead with a bubble group of 6, on a dry morning from Aylesford.She did an outward route of 21 miles ,going up a few lumps,including Cobhambury Road,before the descent to Lower Higham and the stop at Nell’s cafe,Gravesend. From there ,the return came back to Cuxton,then across the M2 bridge footway back to Aylesford. A distance of 37 miles ,at about 12.5 mph and 2300 ft ascents.
After very heavy overnight rain,10 riders still turned up at Paddock Wood. Tony Munn and Neal Welch split the group with 5 each,and set off for a nice flat ride in opposite directions to Headcorn aerodrome. Tony took his group through Marden, Staplehurst to the stop,and Neal went out on a slightly different route,via Marden Thorn and Frittenden.. Everyone had to sit outside on different tables,but fortunately it was drying out nicely. The returns were similar,without incidents with both groups getting back to Paddock Wood about the same time.A distance of 37 miles at around 14 mph average.
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