The ten degree drop!
However the increase from seven to eight was very short lived as following coffee Norman opted to return home citing chores and an afternoon visit to the hospital, the latter being something we all know a bit about these days!
Despite democracy trying to raise its ugly head during coffee we settled on using Regional Route 17 in a southwest direction which would mean some hill climbing but with the wind at our tails. Once out of the final straggle of Dover we began our ascent into beautiful surroundings on quiet lanes and with the sun beginning to make an appearance, so our spirits began to rise accordingly. However somewhere at the top when we should have been entering Hawkinge there became a realisation that we had obviously missed a Route 17 turn somewhere because we found ourselves heading towards Capel Le Ferne and familiar territory. No worries! We just decided to follow our noses let what will be, be. A quick discussion - yet another democratic insurgence - resulted in accepting that we were now getting to Folkestone too soon for lunch so we decided to follow National Route 2, which we had stumbled upon, down to the harbour and follow the promenade through to Hythe where a suitable hostelry was known of. By now it was sunny and warm and with the wind behind us a positive joy to breeze along this brilliant coastal route which we have cycled several times before but only in the opposite direction.
An excellent lunch was had by all when Lance announced that a return to Folkestone along the same seawall route would get them to the station in time for a suitable train journey home. All agreed except one - myself! The day seemed perfect for wind assisted cycling and now we down on the flats leading to Romney Marshes I felt it was the ideal opportunity to strike out towards Rye - surely only another 12 miles or so? I bid farewell to my friends, not envying their battle into the wind along the shore, and pushed along the Military Canal slightly concerned by the swirling wind - had I got it wrong? Once away from Hythe would mean well away from the safety of train stations and the escape route that I took so quickly last week, when I thought to attempt a solo return from Whitstable, would not be an option. And then came the realisation that 12 miles or so from Hythe to Rye was a tad optimistic when signposts suggested that it would be more than double that!
Fears fell away a few furlongs later when riding the silent lanes that constitute Route 2's progress southwestwards with the breeze at my back. Only sheep for company was indeed satisfying as I was maintaining relaxed speeds of 13 to 15 miles per hour. Occasionally I would turn into the wind for a short distance which served only for me to feel great sympathy for my buffeted friends beating their way back to the smoke of Folkestone. Through picturesque Burmarsh I wove the narrow lanes, occasionally having to pause to check the map when there appeared to be a shortage of route signs at otherwise beguiling junctions, until I reached Lydd. But joining a semi-main road was not an attractive prospect, so:
The Good News: From Lydd, all the way to Rye (9 miles), is off-road cycling!
The Bad News: From Lydd, all the way to Rye (9 miles), is off-road cycling!
It should be a wonderful ride, on this dedicated cycle path, which runs alongside the fairly busy road through Camber and on to Rye, but even at the outset where it had an obviously new tarmac surface it proved very uneven and therefore rather uncomfortable. But after less than a mile of this safe but bumpy riding I came across a long section that was obviously in the process of being upgraded. Trying to ride on a rough foundation prior to being given a tarmac covering was seriously awful and quite dangerous, not to mention putting tyres at great risk. After a few minutes of this torture I decided to brave the traffic and diverted to the adjacent smooth road and was soon being buffeted Rye-wards by an even stronger wind at easygoing speeds of 17 to 20 miles per hour. When I noticed that "under repair" section had finished I returned to the cycle path, now a similar surface to the Fowlmead outlying tracks, and wove a slower progress until the approach to Rye. The final "track" section, which cuts off a "long-way-round" roadway, was again very rough (how did my tyres survive?) but then I had finally ar-RYE-ived at my intended destination!!!
As I had half an hour before the next train I enjoyed a tea-time in one of Rye's delectable tearooms before the lengthy return journey - change at Ashford - saw me home on the dot of six thirty, tired but elated with the 52.5 miles I had completed, my furthest yet. (JG)