Steve Watkin Memorial Ride

This was always going to be a lovely ride, but who could have predicted on a cold wet January evening when the leaders sat in the back bar of the Shortlands Tavern to organise the event that it would be as wonderful as it turned out to be. A long languid trek around the eastern point of Kent under blazing spring sunshine.

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After a coffee in a pleasant café opposite the station at Birchtington-on-Sea 38 riders dressed in yellow or decked with yellow ribbons assembled on the station forecourt where Tracey gave her final briefing and safety instructions as we were such a large group. Steve was represented by his son Matt. Matt is not a regular cyclist so his participation was very courageous and he stuck to the task with tenacity; he was an example to us all. Lyndsey gave a lovely speech, and many of us reflected on Steve’s huge contribution to cycling; for many present a really personal contribution.

It was perfect cycling weather with a gentle cool easterly breeze and lots of sunshine. We cycled in a close peloton two to three abreast depending on the conditions. Pedestrians were carefully avoided. We rode along the sea front alongside crystal blue sky and sea. There was a pleasant cool breeze.

We had not been riding for long when the leaders pulled us in for our first tea / coffee stop of the ride, allowing us to regroup and refresh ourselves. As most of the ride is off road it was easy to change groups and chat with friends or new found ones. The cycling was not challenging and offered many superb views.

Many of these coastal towns were enjoying the first crowds of the season in the beautiful sunshine. The rape fields and cherry trees were in blossom. At North Foreland Point we experienced our single puncture of the day and quick hands had that fixed in 15 minutes which was very good.

We had lunch in the sunshine at Ramsgate where everyone separated to not overwhelm the establishments and three riders left us for other commitments.

At about 3 pm we reached the Viking ship at Pegwell Bay. Its tarpaulins were off so we could see the vessel in all its splendour; numerous group photos were taken. We then turned inland towards Minster and St Nicholas where Tracey had planned ahead and booked Jemimas tea rooms which was a lovely tea stop where tea and cakes were devoured in sunshine that was more comparable to a day in June. Restarting we continued through the beautiful countryside tour into Reculver before riding along the sea wall to Minnis Bay and a welcome drink; we drank a toast to Steve and thought what a wonderful day we had all enjoyed.  Sincere thanks to Tracey for leading such a large group of mixed ability with great skill and a lot of patience, and to Adam for back marking.

Finally thank you to the Sarahs for their assistance in producing this report.

Ride stats:
Total Time: 8:15 ish
Riding time: 4:16:58
Coffee & cake: hours
Distance: 33.00
Average speed: 7.9

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