After several clear frosty mornings,the Wrotham start was cold ,misty and very dull,but at least above freezing.Eight riders decided to get some much needed exercise in,and Richard set off intending to go to Riverhead.Before long however,Geoff got a puncture ,which was a bit troublesome and took quite a time to mend,especially with cold fingers.Why do we try and use the plastic tyre levers on narrow road bike tyres!.Thankfully Les had some metal ones,which did the job much quicker,even though they ended up bent(Poundland specials).,so it was decided to cut the outward bound route short and get warmed up at the Otford Pond cafe.The day remained very miserable,but the mist seemed a bit clearer,so it was decided to take a longer way back ,out to Shoreham ,Eynsford and Farningham,before the little chug up the Knatts Valley road ( thanks Ralph for taking the lead) then to Wrotham.A distance of only 22.5 miles averaging just 11.3 mph.
Well 2016 may have been the warmest year on record,but the temperature for the ride from Snodland certainly didn't reflect it.In fairness the sky was blue and clear,but frost and ice still lay following a very cold night.Unperturbed,6 male riders turned up dressed like Mr Blobby,and with Richard leading set off for the break at Poult Wood Golf course It wasn't long before Gary was shouting that it was -2.7 degrees,and regular warnings from the front about ice Out through Birling,Ryarsh,Offham and Crouch..All went well however until Plaxtol,when Allan took a dive on ice at a bend,scraping his thigh,so very cautiously the group carried with sniffing noses to the stop.A lovely warm break,but inevitably the outer clothes were donned again for the return and it wasn't long before Allan came a cropper again on black ice,taking Bob with him into the slush.Fortunately no damage to person or bike this time.Continuing on,thereafter without incident back to Snodland via Hadlow,Mereworth and Kingshill,with the temperature according to Gary raising to an impressive 2 degrees.A shortish ride of only 27 miles at a very steady 11 mph average,climbing 1500 feet.
A Lenham start,with 14 riders,including Geoff,a Pentecostal vicar from the Brewer Street church,Maidstone,joiningbfor the first time ,and good to see Steve back after his long lay off following being knocked off his bike a few weeks ago,and breaking his wrist..A dry day,and Richard led,well sort of,but with Inter riders joining ,it is a bit like having to keep them on a leash!!,but Paul and Dell were very good waiting for the slower riders to catch up..The ride headed for the Bethersden garden centre cafe,and set off to Grafty Green.,where Steve came a cropper on a bend,and managed to hurt his other wrist,but fortunately only bruised this time.A nice flat ride thereafter along quiet lanes took them to the break.The cafe has been refurbished,and a lovely log fire was burning,so a very nice stop.The return went on a big loop ,around Bethersden to Hothfield,where Rebecca left,as she had a hospital appointment,so Tim acted as her buddy,and rode back with her, (Thanks TIm ).The remaining riders carried on to Westwell,and Charing,back to Lenham.,where Allan dished out his home made flapjacks,which went down a treat.( thanks Allan).A distance of 40 miles ,at 13 mph,with almost 1900 feet ascents.Russ then manfully cycled off declaring he had to do his 50 miles .
How lucky we continue to be with weather that allows pleasant cycling,and for the first Midweekers ride of the year which started from Yalding station saw a group of 12 ,which divided into two groups,with 5 going off from their usual starting place for a 22 mile flat ride to Paddock Wood. Richard then led a group of 7 to Tunbridge Wells.Good to Have Allan out again after his cold bug.Out on a circuitous route to Horsmonden,and Matfield,then crossing the A 21 at Kippings Cross to Frant ,then very quiet lanes to Hawkenbury,before the busy traffic of Tunbridge Wells and the break at Grosvenor Park cafe.A very good value break,overlooking the winter ice rink that was about to be dismantled.The out route was a bit lumpy,and the return proved a bit flatter.The worse bit ,getting out on the horrendously busy A228 towards Pembury.Thank goodness for the cycle path.Then onto quieter roads of Tudeley and the flat thereafter from Golden Green back to Yalding,where Gary provided everyone with cakes from his recent Ruby wedding celebrations.Much appreciated. Ralph and Phil,then cycled off up the hills to get home to the Maidstone area.A total ride distance of 32 miles at 12 mph and 1600 foot of climbing according to Russell's strava and relive your route computer.
Well another year of midweek rides has come to an end,and without hardly any missed due the weather,has been very successful. The post Christmas ride was from Chestnut Street,and with overnight freezing fog and part icy roads,it would have been easy just to stay at home.However,8 riders still turned up,and with Richard leading headed off to Faversham,with the forecast of the visibility and temperature improving.And so it turned out,but it was still decided to stick to more of the main roads,just in case.The out route went on the old A249 to Bobbing and Iwade,before taking the By pass to Murston.Carrying on through Teynham and Oare to the popular stop at the Swan cafe in Faversham.Fully refreshed it was a quick stop the the cycle shop in Preston Street for Sarah to get herself a new helmet.Then with the sun quite warm and shining beautifully,the return took in quite a lot of the same route to Teynham before going off to Rodmersham Green,Tunstall and Borden without incident,other than Richard's gear shifter cable snapping.A distance of 28.5 miles at about 12 mph. Same again next year hopefully!
The Midweekers, the D plus and the D group took the opportunity at their Christmas Eve Meal of thanking their Leader Richard Valentine for his organisational skills, hard work and dedication to the groups over the last few years. Richard was presented with a thank you card signed by the members and a Restaurant Gift Card to be used in any of nine Maidstone Restaurants. The members really appreciate the work put in by Richard on their behalf. "Thank you" from the Midweekers.
The shortest day of light during the year,but 16 riders congregated at East Malling.Nice to see Angela and Clive NYE say hello,before going off for another ride.Richard led out,and with mucky roads and light drizzle headed up to the Kings Hill by pass.Ian R,wasn't feeling too well,so Andy acted as buddy and they rode to Ian's house.Many thanks Andy.The rest carried onto Hadlow,where at 10.44am Roy rang his bell ,and informed everyone that it was the official Winter Solstice moment.and then on for a short tea stop at the cafe on the Transfesa estate,Paddock Wood.The group had booked a pre Christmas lunch at the North Pole pub ,near East Malling,to celebrate the Solstice.(thanks Roy for coming up with the idea),so a shorter return via Laddingford and Red Hill to the pub.An excellent finish to the pre Christmas rides. A distance of about 30 miles at a moderate pace,without incident.
The group could not have asked for a nicer,sunny and mild start from Wrotham.Fifteen turned up and with Richard leading they set off up Wrotham Hill ,heading for Nell's cafe. Gravesend.A traditional ,undulating route out through Ash and Fawkham and Longfield to Southfleet ,where Ian' chain got wedged in the front rings so a slight holdup ,and the Cyclopark.As it was new to some of the riders ,there was a stop to have a look around.Unfortunately the bike shop has gone and the cafe is closed ,hopefully only temporarily,so it was then onto a leisurely ride to Nell's,which is under new ownership.Found it to be as efficient and competively priced as before.Still enjoying the sun,but slightly mucky lanes,the group continued the ride to Gold Street and down to Luddesdown,before the climb up to Dean Lane,Harvel ,Vigo village.and Fairseat.,before the nice descent to Wrotham.Only 26 miles,which somehow seemed longer,at a conservative 12 mph average.
13 met at the Fishermans Cafe (now sadly closed) on a damp but not too cold morning, all grateful for no risk of ice. Russell suggested going on the 3 Castle ride over to Rochester and the Isle of Grain. Suggestions mean leading so off we went, up to Halling and over the new Peters Bridge to Wouldham then onto to Rochester for the first castle. Over the old Rochester Bridge to Strood, past the abandoned Russian submarine, on to Frindsbury. Down the cobbled Upnor High Street to Upnor Castle, our second castle of the day. A quick photo shoot and on towards Chattenden and our first puncture. Delay meant a direct route to our cafe stop at Taggs in Hoo. A long stop meant a more direct route back missing the intended third castle of the day, Cooling Castle. Through Chattenden Barracks to Higham and the second puncture of the day. Through Shorne village and past the many 'SOS' Save Our Shorne 'No to option C' Thames crossing signs. Up the long climb to Shorne Country Park, over the A2 and our reward of the fast descent of Cobhambury Road. Then to Cuxton and the Pilgrims' Way back to Snodland. Just 30.2 miles with 1390 feet of climbing at an average of 11.1 mph.
Please see Russells'report on the forum section.