North Kent Coastal

Ride Report – Saturday 26 August 2017

Over the past 10 days I had become increasingly aware of the regular stream of emailed bookings for today’s ride. On Thursday when I came to send the final joining instructions we had 17 registrations. This is towards the upper end of what is a comfortable number to lead. It then became clear that some of these were double bookings and this brought the number up to 21. And then I got news that we were potentially expecting 1 or 2 other non-registered riders. Fortunately there were several drop outs and in the end we were 15 including the leader and back marker; so a comfortable ride size. We were very pleased to welcome Dave who admitted that he had harboured some reservations about joining but later acknowledged that he was glad he had done so.

It all got a bit rushed for me to get to the meeting place on time. Just lack of planning really but it did result in me combing the house for a snack to take along at the last possible minute and grabbing a lonely banana as I headed out of the door.

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At Bromley South I found Tracey organising the tickets and marshalling the team down onto the platform. The train was on time and we were off. It’s a 1¾ hour journey to Ramsgate which seems a very long time for a distance of around 70 miles. Never mind building all this ‘High Speed 2’ in the Midlands and North of England, what about us lot in the South East. During the journey we all tucked into our various snacks instead of keeping them for the ride. What else is there to do on nearly 2 hours of train travel. One or two riders had rather dainty little bananas so I was rather embarrassed when I pulled out mine which I realised was about the size of a marrow and enough to feed the entire team.

On the forecourt of Ramsgate Station we got ourselves organised and Tracey gave us her final briefing reminding us to mark the corners so as not to lose each other and that because of the time of year it would probably be necessary to dismount on some sections of the seafront to avoid causing mayhem with pedestrians. I think in the wake of the conviction for wanton and furious cycling at the Old Bailey this week Tracey was keen that we should do anything we could to contribute to the restoration of the reputation of the cycling community.

The first part of the ride as far as Margate is bit undulating along the cliff tops but the views of shipping in the North Sea are peaceful even on a wild day. And today was definitely not a wild day; the sea was like a millpond, with barely a ripple to disturb the water’s edge. What a contrast to previous occasions when we have found ourselves battered by fierce winds throwing ferocious breakers against seawall to drench us if we failed to take evasive action.

We stopped at the Palm Bay Café high above the Bay of the same name and sat in the warmth refreshing ourselves with a restorative hot cuppa; seagulls wheeled lazily above us on the gentle breezes. It just felt so English! It was a short stop but on restart the buzz of friendly chatter amongst the riders was much more noticeable.

We dropped down to sea level at Margate and cycled along the shared use seafront mingling with day trippers, holiday makers and locals all making the best of the fine weather after what has surely been a pretty lousy August really. Still we shouldn’t moan, think of the poor people of America having to cope with the storm overwhelming them at the moment!

The Margate to Reculver section along the top of the sea defences was beautiful. We noted the line of channel markers just off the shore to our right, each one guarded by a pair of Cormorants – one on the orange light shade top and the other lower down on a small shelf.

The ride over the downs from Reculver was hard work on a grassy path but the reward was lunch at Makcari’s in the bandstand at Herne Bay, just past the halfway mark. We loitered in the early afternoon sunshine and I have to confess to a huge portion of fish n chips from a nearby seafront chip shop. Absolutely delicious but more than enough for two people really and I only ordered a regular size so goodness knows what a large serving would look like; and at £6 very modestly priced I thought. There was a bit of a sea front festival atmosphere and a loud rock band was strumming some vibes in a makeshift stage overlooking the clock-tower gardens.

After lunch we remounted and I struggled to get the pedals turning with my belly so full but I managed. We soon found ourselves rolling along between the rows of pretty beach huts. The paths were thronged but we rode considerately and I think our care was appreciated.

At Whitstable we elected to cycle through the town rather than attempt to follow the wooden slat pathways across the shingle sea-front. And so we were onwards to the afternoon tea-stop at the Freewheel Cycling Pub where they were setting the garden up for a wedding reception at 5 pm. We did not stay long enough to see the happy couple but a marriage based in cycling seems a pretty solid foundation for nuptial bliss. Whoever they are we wish the happy couple well.

At 4.30pm we realised if we got a wiggle on we could make it to Faversham Station for the 1703 homewards. We hustled and made it just in time, only to learn that there was a delay. Spreading ourselves as best we could throughout the 8 car train we enjoyed the relaxing return to Bromley South reliving the day and thinking about future rides.

This was a lovely day of cycling beautifully led by Ride Leader Tracey who kept a good pace that enabled us all to enjoy the scenery and each other’s company.

Our thanks to all our riders who were great company and made leading them so easy. We look forward to seeing you all on another of our rides soon.

Dist: 35.26
Av: 9.1
Max: 22.1
Riding time: 3:47:00
Total time: 6:45:00
Train time: 2¾ hours 🙁

Update: Pictures from Sarah below

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