Not a usual starting point, but initially 19 riders turned up at Wouldham car park On route several cycled in,which in part was still a bit icy,and Mick took a tumble but carried on. Then before setting off Brian O felt unwell and bailed out. Richard led on aroute that took the group to Rose’s cafe Middle Stoke. After going through Rochester, there was a detour to Lower Upnor and the Arethusa,for a bit of sightseeing and photo. From there it was on fairly quiet lanes past Kingsnorth and the massive newish Amazon distribution centre to the cafe. Due to our large number it was a very long stop, but pleasant. With time getting on, it was back on the bikes ,and at High Halstow, Jonathan had the only puncture of the day, but Brian K was on hand as Gary’s excellent stand in to help. Continuing thereafter, and without incident it followed a more lumpy route to Shorne and Cobham then over the M2 Bridge footpath and back to a very busy Wouldham just in time for schools turn out. A distance of 39 miles at about 12.5 mph and 1900 ft ascents.
After periods of really rain, suprisingly 11 well attired riders ventured out for a Lenham start. It was fairly inevitable that the roads were going to be pretty atrocious, but everyone was up for the challenge. Russell as usual stepped up to lead, and thought that going onto the North Downs maybe a drier choice. However with all the grot and puddles, everyone’s shoes and bikes were quickly soaked. A couple of slow falls and a puncture sealed the mood of the ride early on. Unperturbed however, Russ continued the lead, sometimes up to our peddles in slosh all the way to Wye, via Charing, Westwell and Boughton Aluph. On arrival at Wye,with the rain really starting, the railway barrier was as always it seems shut for almost 10 minutes, then to cap it all the cafe in the village was shut. Fortunately Russ came up with plan B, and we headed off to Perry Court Farm and Tea Rooms, a short distance out of Wye. It turned out to be really pleasant,and noted for further stops. On leaving ,our bikes were still soaked after yet another downpour, but resilianty the return was pretty incident free past Egerton and Lenham Heath before the second puncture and a huge lake of a puddle in Old Ham Lane. A distance of 35 miles,12.5 mph average and 2070 ft ascents.
A group of 27 turned up at Yalding Station on a cold,dry morning. It was immediately decided to split the group,and the coffee stops. Tony Munn led the first group and went over Kenward Hill and Red Hill, to Ditton and Aylesford. Whilst waiting at traffic lights ,a car brushed against Matt Gregory’s leg,crushing it against the frame of his bike. Matt was able to carry on,but in pain. Tony then took the groups along the new track from Aylesford towards Peters village,which necessitated humping the bikes over a steel barrier,as it had been closed off. From there the two groups split up again, and went through Snodland,and Ryarsh to separate breaks at the Jungle cafe and Spadeworks,Offham. Matt was still hurting,so Andy T.V went with him to catch a train home from West Malling. For everyone else,the return route was out to Crouch and Hadlow before returning to Yalding without further incident. A distance of about 33miles,at a fairly average speed and moderate ascents.
A sunny morning for a start from Chestnut Street, with 14 riders joining Richard,the leader for a ride to Halfway on Sheppey. A different route out than on some other occasions, by going to Hartlip then up Queensdown Warren to Farthing Corner, then crossing over the M2 and down Meirsborough Road to Rainham. From there a lovely flat ride past Lower Halstow to the Sheppey Crossing and onto Halfway for a great value break and service at Klondyke cafe. Later ,from there it was onto the Leas, Minster,where Tony P discovered a puncture in a tubeless tyre, but a few revolutions soon sealed the problem, but it provided a nice few minutes to view the estuary in lovely sunshine. The remainder of the return was without incident ,via Iwade and lanes back to Chestnut Street. A distance of 33 miles at 13 mph average and. 1050 ft ascents only.
On a lovely Autumnal morning, 19 riders turned up at East Malling. Russell had already downloaded the Garmin route to Knole Park, and he thought it a good idea to split into 3 separate independent self controlling groups, so in the event of problems the whole group would not be affected. A picturesque route outward bound,through Crouch and the uphill through Plaxtol and Stone Street to Bitchetts Green ,then entering Knole Park via the back gate with magnificent views of the estate with the roaming deers and the house. With the sun shining warmly, a very pleasant break was taken on the open veranda above the cafe. An equally nice return, firstly and thankfully going down Carters Hill onto the flat around the Shipbourne area,before the puff of Oxenheath Hill and Butchers Lane,Mereworth to Kings Hill and East Malling without a single puncture (hooray!) or incident. A distance of 30 miles at about 12.5 mph average and 2435 ft total ascents Great ride Russ, Thankyou.
A bright Autumnal day welcomed 12 riders for a Wrotham start with a few already having cycled considerable distances to get there. Richard led and headed for the lumps up to Ivy Hatch, before to nice down hill then flat to Hildenborough where the group got split up. Gary, the usual back marker ,with Brian and Lisa were some distance back from the pack,when they followed a group of other cyclists. Unfortunately a different group, from ours, but we all met up eventually at Chiddingstone Castle cafe on the last day before it closed for the year,and sat out in warm sunshine. Lisa decided to take a photo and promptly fell back over a bike, but fortunately with only her pride hurt. On the way back via Tonbridge, somehow we lost Bob, who eventually made his own way . The rest of us returned via the puff of Gover Hill , then Borough Green. A distance of 39 miles at 13 mph average and 2500 ft ascents, without any punctures. The stalwart ones then cycled on to their homes.
The Away Day started off from the Wincheap Park and Ride , Canterbury, with a great turnout of 19 . Russell led, ( again, Thanks Russ) and the route followed the same one as a couple of years ago to the Princes Golf Course, Sandwich. It was to be a ride totally affected by the holdups of 8 punctures overall,so turned out to be a long day. Russell took the group out through some estates of Canterbury, and onto very leafy narrow lanes ,which in parts were strewn with mud and grit. It must have been White van man’s delivery day with numerous passing us at various speeds ,and road closures through villages such as Adisham, and Barfristone that had to be negotiated. After about the 5 th puncture near St Margaret’s at Cliff, it was decided that some of the group carry on to the stop, whilst others remained to help. However, it didn’t really improve, with a further 2 around Deal prior to the break, so it was quite late by then. With 19 of us, it was a long stop,with everyone enjoying Club,or similar sandwiches. Sarah Lewis,as usual took the opportunity to go for a swim in the sea,whilst waiting for her food . She said it was warm,but no one believed her. With the light just starting to fade and 20 miles to get back, Russ suggested splitting into 3 groups to coincide with travelling partners, so it was a bit of a heads down ,with fortunately only one further puncture, on much flatter lanes through Westmarsh,Preston and Stodmarsh. The only incident being, Russ taking a slow balletic fall into the grass bank and nettles to get out of the way of a wide farm tractor. With dusk approaching, all safely reached a traffic clogged Canterbury. A distance of 53 miles at about 13 mph average and 2410 ft ascents. Well done,and Thankyou Russell.
A usual dull,drab and drizzly Wednesday start,but 11 riders still turned up at Lenham. Russell volunteered to lead ,and with his GPS set for a Brogdale break they set off by firstly going up Hubbard’s Hill. Soon however Mick got his first puncture and then after a few more miles near Eastling,he got the second one in the other tyre. With Gary on hand to assist, they thought it was fixed ,only to discover a tiny hole in a brand new inner tube,so off the tyre had to come again. With time pressing on, Russell suggested a nearer stop at the Swan cafe, Faversham, always a welcome stop,which was reached via Ospringe. Following the break,Russell gave the group an inpromtu tour around the estates of Faversham , before getting back on track and the almost constant uphill to Newnham and Doddington,where Gary claimed the hat trick of punctures. All seemed well after,until reaching Stede Hill which was closed with fallen trees,but fortunately the workers allowed the group through by carrying their bikes amongst the branches. It was then back to the finish without further incident. A distance of only 27 miles at about 13 mph average and 1360 ft ascents in very mucky conditions and even dirtier bikes.Well Done Russ.
A great turnout at the station with 17 MidWeekers and the Wednesday Group. Matthew Gregory had devised a route to Headcorn and led a fast flat ride. Missing Richard V who was on a mission elsewhere but gaining Bernie Nichols we were soon through Marden and Staplehurst skirting Headcorn to arrive at the Aerodrome to meet another bunch of Fairies leaving. Great service, food and the spectacle of light aircraft, helicopters and sky divers. Even 3 Border Force Officers in attendance, truly now an international airport. Following the obligatory photo shoot it was off past the Big Cat Sanctuary and through Headcorn for a fast run, with some headwind, back to Marden where Matthew had to bail out. Some appalling behaviour with one truck overtaking on a blind bend nearly taking out a car coming the other way and a diatribe from the driver of a white truck who voiced his resentment of us using the roads as he ‘pays road tax' !
34.37 miles at average of 14.4 mph with just 627 feet of ascent.
Route on Strava
Matt Gregory had planned the route on Strava,then had to work,so Russell volunteered to lead with that route. Fifteen riders started off from Hothfield Common Car Park,on a chilly but glorious morning. Russ went out to Great Chart and Kingsnorth,bypassing Ashford South. It was then onto quiet lanes to Bilsington,wind assisted and onto the flat of the marsh roads to Newchuch,almost traffic free,to the stop at Bakery 64 cafe in New Romney High Street,where a reserved table awaited. Excellent food,service and value Following the stop,Russ decided to detour slightly off strava by going to the promenade front and looping back into the town,( with a bit off off roading).Inevitably the northerly wind was head on straight away,which with the very open countryside slowed the riders down a bit.However once past Ivychurch and up to Ruckinge, things improved and the remaining journey through Hamstreet and Shadoxhurst to the finish at Hothfield was very pleasant. A distance of 43 miles at about 13 mph average without any incidents or punctures. Many thanks Russ,and to Matt for planning the route.