Morning broke, cold, misty, windy and with the threat of rain such a contrast with last week when we were lulled into the thought that Winter might be passing. Nonetheless the determined band gathered at the Pier at the appointed hour. Numbers were a little up as the return of the sun seekers has begun with Malcolm appearing bronzed from the Caribbean. The 'home team' of David L, Richard L, Howard and Tom now with tan fading following a week back in the balmy weather of Deal were present in body if not spirit. Norman sensibly took the view that St David's Day was more important than a mere bike ride and accordingly was elsewhere.
As the usual route discussion was taking place suddenly a familiar figure was seen cycling manfully into the wind towards us. Our Leader had returned from the grasp of the NHS and had come to wish us all well in the light of the unpleasant weather. It was good to see him back in the saddle. The wind was strong North Easterly and it was decided a generally westward route with coffee in Sandwich would probably be best, so leaving John to find a suitable breakfast spot off we cycled.
As we made our way along the Seafront and then along Guildford Road Malcolm told us that his new 'bulletproof' tyres would be fitted tomorrow and that in the meanwhile he had new inner tubes fitted so as to avoid any punctures!! As we approached Hamilton Road Malcolm was heard to say 'I think I have a puncture' - he had. What should we do now? Malcolm suggested we carry on and he would join us for coffee, David offered to stay and help as he had time limitations on him and so now reduced to three we set off.
Up Mill Hill, along to Mongeham then out towards the Tilmanstone roundabout which was reached in excellent time despite the wind. At the roundabout a degree of overconfidence overcame us and instead of being sensible and continuing to Eastry as planned it was agreed that we would go just a little further, so on towards Eythorne we went. First two rather steeper hills than thought slowed us down and when the turn towards Eastry was made on the outskirts of Eythorne then the wind kicked in. In order to avoid this a detour through Tilmanstone was made and thankfully Eastry was reached. Then up Woodnesborough Hill and the joy of a downhill run into Sandwich. Coffee and restorative sandwiches were taken at the Beach Hut at the very appropriately named Windy Corner and after a rest we set off on our various ways home with only Tom having a lengthy but wind assisted ride back to Deal. A testing 25 miles approximately.
Malcolm had intended to join us for coffee but sent a message saying that he wouldn't make it , he and David having finally 'nailed' his puncture problem. A small piece of wire was the cause of his recent recurring punctures. Problem now solved, either by the new bulletproof tyres or the 'no wire'.
Next week 8 March I will be away but we meet at the Pier as usual at 0900hrs. I will of course be with you all in spirit!!! (HH)