As the throng gathered on the pavement outside Panagua Bikes one could hardly believe the weather. A clear blue sky providing a fabulous backdrop for a warm spring sun. There was hardly a cloud to be seen. There was warmth in the air too. There was the usual melee of cyclists trying to register, trying to find a ride leader, trying to find a ride to join or trying to find Adam.
Bright eyed cyclists were everywhere eager to start. There was the usual selection of rides to choose from and Adam was busy helping riders to make the best choice so they could get the most out of the day.
The 10 mph ride had once again attracted over 20 riders, but fortunately there were two leaders so the ride was conveniently split Gary took 10 and John 11. Setting off with a two minute interval was not going to keep these rides separate for very long but John had a cunning alternative plan. The official route led from Hayes up to the A232 Croydon Road and then along to cross the A21 at the Princess Royal Hospital. John however had other ideas and led his riders across the A21 at McDonalds and then took the footpath to Farnborough Park thus avoiding the traffic. The official route was re-joined at Starts Hill.
Reaching Worlds End Lane in Green Street Green the ride began to escape the town and head into the beautiful North West Kent countryside. There was much promise of spring in the air. Daffodils, missing just a fortnight ago were showing their bright yellow faces to the sunshine and there was a distinct yellowy green glow to the branches of some trees which will obviously shoot leaves in the coming days.
Worlds End Lane was hard work, it always is; riders from the earlier rides were still ascending.. But once at the top there’s a fairly flat stretch before the ride turned right into Maypole Road (that’s Maypole Road Sticky). The ride to Shoreham along narrow deep cut lanes is very pretty particularly under the dappled glow of the warm bright sunshine. Even the sound of yelling and hollering from the paintball shooting range couldn’t spoil the tranquillity. It was almost inevitable that this bliss should be spoiled by a puncture, but full marks to Richard G who had it fixed in no time flat and so the progress of the ride was almost undisturbed.
The Lullingstone Visitor Centre was full to bursting with cyclists. Not only the B2B rides but various other groups were also loading up with cake and other victuals. To call it chaos doesn’t really do justice to the word. After queuing for 20 minutes some teas were forthcoming but the need to get restarted was pressing.
Instead of taking the road route which is rather unpleasant a further detour was taken across the fields. Much dried out since the route checker ride of last week-end which resulted in bikes covered in mud up to the axles.
This route emerges onto metalled road at Lullingstone Castle, there is then a very pleasant riverside past Eagle Heights to Eynsford.
Eynsford though slightly over half way is the turning point of the ride. Someone had commented earlier in the ride about the lack of wind, the reality of this comment was exposed here there had been a tailwind on the outward leg and now the riders began to work into headwind, but only gentle in fairness. Crockenhill Lane is a long toil up to and over the M25. The riders all stopped to peer gloatingly over the bridge at the traffic. What a nightmare this road is. Cars, lorries, buses, coaches, motor-cycles all thundering along all pumping carbon in various compound forms into an already saturated mix of polluted air. Wasn’t it the Hollies in the 1960’s that sang “All I need is the air that I breathe… ” perhaps this should be the Bromley Cyclists’ Anthem. I digress!
At Warren Road there was a second puncture, rear wheel this time. John and Gary got active and again the repair was completed in quick time. At Farnborough Gary stayed on the prescribed route up Farnborough Hill, by sly sneaky John cheated and rode up the shared path alongside the A21 – much easier, and much more pleasant this meant john beat Gary to Starts Lane and thereafter it was a straight run in through Farnborough Park on the reverse of the outbound route.
Various riders peeled away during the final couple of miles. So it was just 7 who arrived at Hayes ready for a refreshing tea and a natter before going home.
The riders today did very well; it was a hilly ride, none of the Kent mega hills, but plenty of up and down. Improved levels of fitness were very obvious among those who had ridden on the previous rides. It is clear that all riders will be capable of riding to Brighton if they keep up their hard work. Well done riders.
Dist: 27 miles
Pedalling: 2hrs 45 mins
Total time: 4¼ hrs
Coffee: 30 mins
punctures x 1½: ½hr