Sunday 16 March 2014
Fabulous ride today in almost idyllic cycling conditions. Nineteen Riders departed Orpington Station just after 10 am in glorious sunshine. How far removed from the rain and wind we have suffered nearly without respite since early December. Oh please let this be a harbinger of the summer to come.
Unfortunately we lost one rider very early on through a major mechanical which we understand may have written his bike off (but it’s apparently covered by a guarantee.)
The route from Orpington to Halstead was a little disjointed. We had hoped to follow a route through Chelsfield Lakes Golf Course. When we got there it appeared impractical and so we were committed to the Hewitts Roundabout which we negotiated on foot. Absolutely awful. How Bromley Council or whoever are the relevant authority are permitted to continue this situation is completely beyond me. It took us nearly 10 minutes to get all our riders – including 10 year old across this appalling junction.
Once down Wheatsheaf Hill we quickly made our way via Halstead to the top of Old Polehill, which we negotiated with our hearts in our mouths down onto the plain – the Weald of Kent.
And the sun blazed.
We kept to the quieter roads through Dunton Green and joined the busy London Road just a short hop North of the Wildlife Reserve where we stopped and sat in the lovely sunshine drinking our teas and coffees. From here we phoned ahead to the Lion Hotel at Farningham to warn them of our impending arrival. They did not actually say they didn’t want us to come but they couldn’t have made it more clear! “Our tables are all taken.” “You will just have to join the queues.” Very negative really, we were just trying to be helpful after all.
A little later than intended we restarted and headed to Seal where we turned North towards the Downs. At 14% Coltman’s Ash lane qualifies as one of the Kent mega-hills. I am pleased to report all cycled up with great stamina. Well done. Here we turned onto Knatts Valley Road. Unfortunately today there was a headwind so not quite the wonderful ride it usually is. But still a ride to lift downhearted spirits. Miles and miles of lovely downhill – fantastic.
The Lion Hotel was doing a roaring trade and waited a long long time for our bowls of chips. The landlady was overheard to remark “I told them we were too busy.” We also bumped into one of the Bigfoot Mums who was disappointed to learn that she could have joined our cycle ride rather than drive there.
And the sun still blazed.
Quite a few riders departed to catch the train from nearby Eynsford Station. It was well past mid afternoon when we restarted for the last leg of our ride and we got back to Orpington Station at 4.30 pm.
A special well done to Sami who had completed the ride with his Mum and Dad.
Distance 30 miles. Difficult to know the ride speed each computer seemed to report a different number. Whatever it was very sedate, and exceedingly enjoyable.
Great Riders. Great Company.