2nd of April saw my first longer ride around North Kent roads and countryside. It was at times a bit exhilarating and then fun. There were two routes – 65km and 120km. I opted for the latter thinking “well, I’ve ridden half of the track sections already, so what’s new?”. This statement turned out to be 1/3 correct as I didn’t know half the climbs…
The ride stared and finished at Hadlow Colleage grounds. Getting there from Gravesend is about 35 min drive. The Girl used to work in Kings Hill for the past decade so there were no surprises in getting there. Starting with carb-loading on bananas and biscuits I found myself very quickly at the start line, and off we took.
Wait! Just a note on admin – timing chips were in two shapes and I found it easiest to strap it to the cable housing near bottom bracket.
There were a couple of ups and downs and riding in a group we managed to maintain average speed of 17 mph for the first 10 miles which was nice and fast. At least for me on my Sequoia – most others were on road bikes with skinny tires. I’ll come back to that later.
Then came village of Ryarsh and decent towards Vigo Hill. I had gone up Vigo Hill a few days earlier with a friend, so it wasn’t new. But challenge nevertheless. Four and half minutes later it was left behind and it was generally flat with a few ups and downs towards Longfield. And then up to Knockmill, and down again to Horton Kirby that was the first and only official feed station. It was pleasure to find Mark from Westerham Cyclery there with his van giving helping hand to those in need.
After Horton Kirby it was mainly up the hill towards Westerham Hill – a route which I’d never ridden before. Once I turned left towards Westerham the decent seemed to be never-ending 😉
Westerham saw a somewhat scheduled coffee and cake stop in the Cyclery Drop Bar. And then came two climbs that I didn’t expect (ignorance on my part, I guess…) – Hosey Hill and Toys Hill. After Toys, I didn’t even notice Ide Hill – it seemed a doddle. Down from Ide though was another fun decent. We use the same road when going to Hever by car and I used to think – this must be extremely dangerous for cyclists. Well, it is up to a point.
And then an hour later… it was done. By Toys Hill climb the group has spread out so much that I found myself riding mostly alone.
Ride recap in Strava. Total time to cover the loop 5:28, total moving time 5:05 (for deluding myself whilst in a race). Average speed of 14.6 mph is rather pleasing considering the six climbs that slowed everyone right down. Average cadence of 67… this could be improved a bit.
A few noteworthy things:
- as Jack mentioned in his post road signing should have been better. I almost took wrong turn after a climb out of Horton Kirby.
- road quality varies. I realised how good my 42mm Sawtooth tires were on often rattling B-roads. Many riders noted they felt every crack with their skinny road tires.
- local drivers are generally sensible and give space to riders. Emphasis on word “generally”.
- For a long ride like this it’s highly advisable to have ample of electrolyte-laced water and food. I opted for saddlebag full of gels and energy bars. After five and half hours I was hungry enough to accept a portion of chili.
I thoroughly recommend riding this route fro Sunday morning club ride.