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.
The car park at Dickley Lane Lenham was really packed ,as it was the starting point for both D groups,C group and a lonely usual B + rider. Russell was due to lead the B+ ride,but fortunately he was joined by a few of the D+’eras..So off he went with a group of 9, on a dry,sunny but very cold morning.venturing on quiet lanes,occasionally with ice puddles at the verges,and frost on the fields.Going to Charing and Westwell onto Boughton Aluph and a brief stop at Wye,for a photo.With temperatures still not topping zero very often,there were a few climbs before the very welcoming break at the Blue and White cafe,Smeeth and a chance to warm up and enjoy hot,reasonably priced food.All too soon it was getting togged up again,for the way back,going through Mersham,where Rebecca decided to become unofficial leader for a while and raced off a bit upping everyone’s heart rate,but doing nothing for sniffy noses.For a while,the ride continued on the flat through Stubbs Cross and Bethersden,before the lump of Pluckley Hill. Going on past Egerton and Boughton Malherbe,and Russell wondering why he was finding pedalling hard,only to find that mud was completely caked between his front tyre and forks,necessitating the removal of the wheel to clear it.With the weather getting ever colder,and riders looking forward to getting back to the warmth of their cars,the remainder of the ride was uneventful fortunately.A distance of 44 miles at about 13 mph average. Great ride Russell.Thankyou
As there were only ten of us, Chris generously (everyone regretted this act of self-sacrifice by the end of the ride) handed over the D ride to the D+ ride. ‘Bee ride, not a D ride’ said Russell as a giant bumble bee tried to muscle in on the proceedings. It turned out to be an A+ ride. We climbed out of Ightham, cutting through Basted Mill to climb up to Crouch and along The Hurst, past Old Soar Manor. In Dunks Green we continued across the Shipbourne crossroads and began the climb past Ightham Mote. The next climb took us to St Lawrence Church and across the A25 and minor undulations through Kemsing to Pondview Café in Otford. Worse was to come …. Jonathan: ‘we’re not doing Rowdow?’. Rachel: ‘but you took us up Rowdow, you love it’. J: ‘but that was just after I’d done The Alps!’ R: ‘On your bikes … ‘. Up Rowdow and no complaints (maybe I was too far behind to hear them) and on to the next hill which I had completely overlooked. Knatts Lane, 16%. I was the only one to come to a standstill and fall sideways. Well done Team, the reward was the descent on Exedown and back to Wrotham. Due to a proactive rerouting to accommodate the D riders, we only did 25 miles. And 2457 ft of climbs. Oops. One day I must get the hang of Strava.
A really cold,clear sunny and dry start from Staplehurst,with Russell taking the lead with a group of 10.Looking at the route map and ascents graph seemed a bit daunting for some,but with a few nervous laughs ,Russ set off and headed to Bodiam..Starting off on the flat to Curtisden Green,before the lumps started near Goudhurst.Continuing on then along the Glassenbury Road to Hartley and Benenden to Iden Green,and the very picturesque landscape entering Sussex.After 18 Miles the break was reached at the Hub cafe ,Bodiam,with great views of the castle in the distance.Further climbs awaited on the return,and Russ took his flock out to Northiam and back into Kent at Newenden. and it’s ancient road bridge.It was then onto Rolvenden ,Benenden again to Sissinghurst,before the final leg back on the flat again to Frittenden and Staplehurst.A distance of almost 40 miles at about 12 mph average. Thanks Russ for a great ride.