Well that was tough!
My first day in the saddle for on the Great Kent Cycle Ride 2017 was full of ups and downs…
I travelled down to Chatham and stayed overnight to avoid any potential hold-ups on the M25. It was a good plan as my hotel was only 15 minutres away from the start at Flanders Farm in Hoo, owned by Goathams, the main sponsors of the ride. We needed to be their by 6.45 for registration and a pre-ride briefing from Cycle-Tec (who are dealing with the ride logistics) and Steve Craddock who outlined their purpose of the ride and stressed that it should be fun!
We set off in two groups. I left the farm at 8.15am and headed back into Rochester and past the castle just as the early morning traffic was about to peak. It wasn’t too much of a problem though and we were soon heading towards Aylesford and our first refreshment stop of the day after around 15 miles. It was great that everyone arrived within about 30-45 minutes of each other (a feature of the ride that was to continue all the way through the day). Suitably recharged with bananas and an assortment of other goodies we set out again. It was threatening to rain at this point but fortune was smiling on us and we kept dry.
From Aylesford we headed towards Royal Tunbridge Wells and our first long, drawn out hill of the day. I got the to the summit ok but while I was readying myself for the traffic lights, my Garmin decided to reset itself. It took a few minutes for me to get it working again (although it appears to have lost the first 30 miles of my ride – something I’ll need to look at when I get home). Once it appeared to be OK I headed on through Tonbridge and on to Hildenborough for lunch at 35 miles
The catering was great! We are fortunate to have Dame Kelly Holmes MBE participating in the ride and she owns a cycle-friendly cafe in Hildenborough (Cafe 1809 if you’re ever passing) and had arranged for the staff to cater for us at a nearby sports field.
We sent off after lunch, heading towards Sevenoaks and were soon greeted by the first of two ‘challenging’ climbs the afternoon had in store for us. Riverhill was listed in the Top ten toughest climbs in the Kent Alps but was withdrawn because its a busy road with lots of traffic but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it lasted for about 2km at gradients varying between 9-14%. It was extremely hard work and I can vouch for how busy the stretch of road is.
Once Riverhill was conquered the route was very much up and down all the way to our final refreshment stop of the day at Westerham, in glorious sunshine. My Garmin threw another wobbly at this point and I lost the next 15 miles of my ride We left and almost immediately headed up Westerham Hill – No. 3 on the list of toughest climbs mentioned previously! It was hard work. Apparently its only 1km (not sure about that) but the gradient ranges from 8-40%. It reminded me of the Alps when I rode there in 2015. If you stop (and I don’t mind saying I did!) it’s just so difficult to get going again and get clipped into the pedals while trying to maintain forward momentum.
Once we were over Westerham Hill, while still ‘undulating’, it was nowhere near as difficult and we enjoyed a wonderful ride through picturesque villages and landscapes for the rest of our journey to Brands Hatch. There was one last hill in store for us as we headed to the Hotel but it wasn’t too bad and the promise of a cold beer in the hotel urged us on to compete the first 66 miles of our tour of Kent!
Tomorrow’s leg takes us on a journey of 75 miles down to the coast. We’re heading towards Folkestone and up onto the White Cliffs to pay our respects at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne (more of that tomorrow) before heading for our overnight stop in Dover.
I’ll try to post details of our route from today when I get home as I need to see what I can recover from my Garmin. Hopefully normal service will be resumed tomorrow. Until then, Sleep well (I know I will!)…
Thanks for looking
Look at the link for a flyby of our route: https://www.relive.cc/view/1083182232
It’s not representative of my ride speed etc. as I’ve used a link sent to me by another rider due to my Garmin failure.