How to contend with that wind? That was the question. My short ride to the pier gave me some indication of the desirability of facing a stiff north easterly as I battled my way along the promenade. At first sight it seemed that just four riders would be making windy challenge; Tom, Lance, Malcolm and John G, but just after the hour a bedraggled and windswept Norman appeared with the threat "I'm not riding far today"!
Needless to say, after a short discussion, we headed southbound with the wind up our tails and made short work of the coastal cycle path to Kingsdown, although the very strong crosswind driving off the sea only gave partial assistance.
However once we turned up potholed Oldstairs Road the full force of the helping breeze became obvious - we were definitely cycling in the right direction! My current physical condition was revealed, when despite this boisterous breeze at our backs, I found it hard going up the lane to St. Margaret's and soon fell behind my fitter colleagues. Eventually we arrived at the top of the track that descends to Dover Harbour where a decision was made to utilise this stairway instead of doing battle with yet another hill up to the castle. Norman, who had expected to be with us until the Duke of York, was put out by this short-cut suggestion (guess from who?) and bid us a disgruntled "beggar off", or something very similar! He made his way home as we manhandled our steeds down the precipitous steps.
At the bottom another decision was required. Do we take refreshment in Dover, and, if so, where? It was 10.00am and a thought occurred to me. "Malcolm" I enquired "would we reach the Clifftop Cafe in Capel le Ferne in an hour". He, having cycled there last week with 'Bakewell' Dick, soon got the gist and replied "yes, I'm sure we can". So without further ado we set off along Route 2 out of Dover and up towards Shakespeare Cliff where, on the ascent beside the dual carriageway we all espied a suspect figure asleep on the grass. Or was he dead, we mused? The hooded figure was definitely 'out for the count' and was either 'sleeping it off' or maybe, having just 'slipped off a lorry'.
Despite the vigorous wind assistance it still proved an energy sapping climb but we were rewarded with the scented coconut-like aroma of a wondrous display of gorse in full bloom. Soon we arrived at the intended cafe, right on 11.00am, and what a nice place it turned out to be. Nice cakes and beverages, and a fantastic view down the cliffs and in the direction of Folkestone Harbour - I'm sure we will use that pit stop again! Then Lance had a brainwave. "Instead of going down into Folkestone to that fairly grotty pub by the station why don't we cycle back to Dover and go to Cullin's Yard?" "Won't we be heading back into that wind" we enquired gingerly? "Its all downhill from here so the wind won't hurt" he said over-confidently. So back to Dover we went.
When the full frontal force hit me I very nearly gave up and was at the point of deciding to abandon them and turn for wind-assisted Folkestone but I couldn't attract their attention, so far ahead were they, so I reluctantly pushed on after them. The downhill experience was definitely more 'uphill' than one would have wished for but eventually, after passing the glorious gorse and the immobile immigrant once again, we arrived at Cullin's Yard where we enjoyed an excellent 'light lunch' before catching the train back. 20 plus windy miles for me but more for the Worth contingent. (JG)