18th Outing: 28th October2008. Nine gallant souls were involved today - should have been ten but we missed new TT rider, Richard Noakes, by one minute. We gave him a minute and left the pier at 9.01am and he turned up at 9.02! Better luck next time Richard. The other Richard, Mr. P, however did show up this week to join yours truly, Tom, Dave Ld, David Lt and Bill V. We set off through Deal centre, across the level crossing, pass the tip and onto the track through to the back entrance of Fowlmead Country Park.
After riding along the outer track of Fowlmead and then out through the main gate we took the lane opposite to go to Finglesham, eventually finding our way to Marley Lane and Norman's elegant abode where he and Judith plied us with coffee and biscuits. Most welcome! As Lance and Howard were already there complaining about our late arrival that brought our numbers up to the magic nine, a new record, and we set off behind Norman in search of Regional Route 15.
A pleasant ride through narrow little-trafficked lanes brought us to Eastry but not without some drama when my chain came off on selecting the low gear set. Soon we were heading south up moderate hills until we found the cycle lane that runs beside (not too close) the Whitfield bypass. This is an excellent way of ascending to the heights as it does so in a gradual and relatively pain-free manner and despite a couple of sabotage attempts by Howard and then Lance (still looking for the easy-way-out) we reached the meeting point with Route 16 just north of Whitfield. Now we had joined that notorious route suffered by some the previous week and so not unexpectedly heard a few grumbles from the Nonnington escapees as we revisited some of Rindercella's terrain.
But once past Guston, the summit was reached and we descended to the junction with Castle Hill where Dave found the temptation of being so close to home irresistible and departed. The remaining eight descended on the road back road to St. Margaret's, briefly pausing for a culture stop at the Blériot monument (not a great deal to see!) before making the ascent to the top of Fox Hill Down. We must be getting stronger and fitter as that was the first time I've managed to cycle all the way up! Now at the top we were treated to spectacularly clear views across the channel with a perfect autumn sunlight settling on the cotton wool clouds out to sea. But then we were persuaded by smooth talking Howard that we should divert towards the cliff edge for a more interesting route into St. M. "Its mostly tarmac" he proclaimed seductively. What he didn't say was that the tarmac had been laid in 1756 and had eroded somewhat! That was the most shocking shaking cycling we've had yet and its truly amazing that punctures or other damage did not result, even to the new bikes in our midst, the newest being Howard's.
We did find St. M eventually and a well deserved liquid refreshment was taken in a local hostelry before the exhilarating descent from Free Down through Otty Bottom to Kingsdown and the Rising Sun for lunch. There Richard P decided make the long journey home - all of 50 yards - and Bill also set off for a quiet lunch at home having little regard for the culinary prowess of the Rising Sun chef. So five dined sumptuously before taking our various routes. So 25 plus miles covered on a beautiful sunny if fresh day, perfect for cycling - weren't we lucky? (JG)