Four riders set off from Yalding with the promise of meeting Linton en route in Ditton. True to his word he was there but by this stage the other four had climbed both Yalding and Teston Hills so were properly warmed up. We encountered a madman as we entered Boxley village - unfortunately for him he picked on the wrong man in Tony W as well as two motorcyclists who were also not impressed with his behaviour. We were soon making our way up Hollingbourne Hill and the first half of climbing culminated in Stockers Hill just before the stop at the Village Shop.
The clouds were gathering so after initially taking outdoor seats we were soon rushing indoors as the rain started to fall. After the usual slow stop our weatherman Gary checked his barometer and we were off moving with a very dark cloud following us on the home journey via Lenham. It caught up with us eventually and the heavens opened so we took respite under a few trees until our weatherman said things were improving. Linton took a more direct route back to Ditton and the remains four eventually arrived back at Yalding after completing 50 miles at an average of 13.5mph with 3,500ft of climbing.
Seven riders set out from Mote Park including Nick who was new to the group. We followed the D+ group out of the park at Willington Street and through Downswood and Otham towards Lenham. A climb up Hubbards Hill and along the lovely long stretch of road to Painters Forstal and our café break at Brogdale fruit farm just outside Faversham. Luckily the only rain we encountered all day was whilst we in the café. Return was through damp quiet lanes to Stalisfield Green and across the A20. At the bottom of Hollingbourne hill we met up with the D+ group again who were repairing their second puncture of the day. Along the Pilgrims Way to Detling and returning to Mote Park via Bearsted. Nick, our newest recruit then had the prospect of a ride back to Goudhurst with menacing dark skies overhead. A distance of 44 miles at an average speed of 13.9mph and a total ascent of 2585 feet.
The planned ride from Appledore was cancelled on Saturday morning due to Storm Hannah and the group sought refuge in the tree lined lanes beyond Hartley after climbing up Holly Hill. Tony's hurriedly constructed route opted to clock up feet climbed rather than go for higher speeds in the blustery wind. All was going fairly well to plan until arriving at the Oaks Cafe in Manse Parade Swanley only to discover it was now closed on Saturdays. The group continued on route to the very popular Riverside Tea Rooms by Eynsford Bridge. The long climb up Bower Lane, and ascents at Tinkerpot Lane and Stansted Hill ensured that the wind had little impact on the riders! A distance of 43 miles at average of 12.5 mph with elevation gain of 3,652 feet.
A stunning April day greeted the 10 riders at Headcorn. Jonathan's garmin was having an off day so we ended up reversing the planned route but no one seemed too bothered given the fantastic scenery and weather. Things were going ok at first but we soon began to challenge the most u turns in a ride and Linton's mapping skills were called in. We managed to circumnavigate the road works on the A20 near Sevington but then started the inward route home, and in the process bypassed the cafe stop. This was soon realised and after another quick u turn we were heading down the A20 to the Blue & White cafe at Smeeth.
The route home was less hazardous, passing through Wye and the traditional route to Charing via Westwell. Everyone kept up a good pace with a helping breeze on the way home. About 47 miles were covered, at an average speed of 13.8 mph and 1700ft of climbing.
A full turnout at Aylesford for the E, D, D+ and B+ groups. 11 elected to join Russell on what started as a sunny morning but soon became a very cold and wet, with strong headwinds and sleet, ride out to Rochester and Upnor. An assault course of closed roads found us at Hoo and from then on a pleasant sunny ride to the Stokes, Cooling and our stop at Buckland Lakes, Cliffe. Some new lanes took us to Shorne and then the delight of descending Cobhambury Road before the ferocious traffic of the A228 to Halling. Back through Leybourne and New Hythe meeting the challenge of the blocked road at Millhall. 43.3 miles, 2100 feet of ascent at a modest 12.4 mph reflecting the challenges of multiple assault courses.
Route on Strava
We welcomed new riders to B+ among the 12 who gathered on a dry day at the K&Q for a scheduled hilly ride to our National Trust stop at Chartwell. Out via Offham and Crouch before Ightham Common to skirt Knole Park. Across the top of the ridge and not venturing down Yorkshill or Ide Hill we crossed Goathurst Common to the village of Ide Hill. A sharp left and a tricky climb at Emmetts before taking a left at the top of Toy's Hill. The start of the great descent before a sharp right for our photo stop at Toy's Hill. Then it was Puddledock Lane and a good climb to Chartwell which was heaving with visitors out on a sunny spring day. Refreshed by cream teas we were straight back into a climb with some very audible groans. Then downhill to Seal for a much used route to the Pilgrims Way following it to Otford. Returning by Birling and Wrotham having covered 46 miles with 3700 feet of ascent.
A damp and chilly start for the 7 riders but this was soon forgotten as we climbed immediately to Brenchley. The first half of the ride was full of lumps passing through Goudhurst and Rolvenden on our way to Suzi's Kitchen in Tenterden.
Suzi gave us a warm welcome and was in good spirits despite the thought of running the London Marathon in a couple of weeks. She took quite a liking to our group coordinator's curls after removing his helmet - clearly easily pleased.
The route home was flat in comparison so the average speed picked up and we returned to base with overall figures of 44 miles, av speed 14mph and 2300ft of ascending. There were no punctures or mechanical issues.
Given it was the 97th Birthday Lunch the BM Village Hall was swelling with riders. Brian & Jonathan decided to organise an impromptu B+ ride and we were joined by 5 other riders including a new rider Phil. With a 1pm lunch deadline we set off at a fair lick and unusually, to save a bit of time, we headed straight down the A274 to Headcorn with Brian and Phil powering ahead.
At Headcorn we took the back road via Smarden and on to Bethersden. On entering the village Jonathan looked for the community cafe he had promised the group - slight problem in that he had confused Bethersden with Beneden. No major harm down as the Greenways garden centre was just round the corner. A shorter stop than usual, we were soon heading back to Headcorn via the delightful Wissenden Lane and from there we zig-zagged our way back through Hawkenbury, climbing Wierton Hill and back to our starting point, only arriving an acceptable 5 mins late which was a good effort given the profile of the second half of the ride. My stats were 15.1 mph average speed, 33 miles covered, with 1,125ft of ascent.
An overcast start from Wrotham with a group of six including Josh who decided to join us rather go with his dad who was leading another group from the same start point. We headed out along the Pilgrims Way to Kemsing and across the A25 at Seal. Dropping down the hill past Ightham Mote and a loop through Leigh we arrived at our café stop at Hilden Park golf centre. Ahead of us in the queue were a group of mud splattered fast Inters who had arrived from Marden. Also in the café were a large number of Kent Velo girls and boys who seem to use it as their HQ and appeared to receive preferential treatment as all our drinks and food arrived at very erratic intervals. Tony remained very calm despite receiving his eggs benedict long after everyone else ! In fairness the one cook was hit with a large influx of cyclists (not one golfer in sight). Return was via Shipbourne and as the day warmed up so did we on the long grind up Hamptons Lane to Crouch which offered nice views across the valley. A last leg through Ightham to Wrotham where the D groups had also just returned. A distance 0f 35 miles at an average of 13,8 mph,
Tony Palmer led this ride, from Staplehurst to Reading Street, out on a bright sunny morning without a cloud in the sky. Colin and Ang opted, without coercion, to ride with the B+ Group, rather than G+ Group, swelling the usual number of B+ riders to eight. Tony’s route ensured that the biggest hill climb was out of the way early on by going straight up Colliers Green Road to cross the A262; however, the road closure en route meant that bikes had to be carried for 30 metres. Despite a slight headwind and Tony still grappling (overheard talking to the device) with the functionalities and idiosyncrasies of his Garmin 820 the group arrived at the Tenterden Garden Centre café in time to beat the shoppers’ lunchtime snack dash. Tony Wells and Adrian somehow munched their way through massive sides of ham, accompanied with eggs and chips, while others drank even more tea. This opportunity also gave time to Gary and Tony to fathom how to make imported routes more legible and usable on a Garmin.
The return route via High Halden provided the perfect setting, with crocus surrounding an old oak on the Green opposite the Chequers Inn, for the customary group snap. Tony’s grasp of his Garmin improved significantly as he navigated his way through the narrow lanes around Haffenden Quarter. These little used lanes were full of silt and pot holes, one of which was found by Tony Wells. Hindered by a bent rear derailleur hanger and a small hole in his prized jersey Tony limped home with a wide smile on his face. A distance of 42.7 miles at 14.3mph average with an elevation gain of 1,797 feet.