Perfect weather conditions! Six set off from the pier. David Lt, Tom, Bill V, Bill K, Tom & John G heading for Fowlmead. Before we reached the "reverse into nearside corner" gate we were caught up by, who else, Richard N. Once out of the main Fowlmead gate we picked up the final two riders, Lance and Norman. Through Finglesham to Eastry we rode enjoying the excellent conditions, warmish sun and little wind. However before arriving at the Eastry crossroads we were aware that David Lt had already turned to fulfil "duties" at home. As there was no sign of Bill V it was half assumed he had followed the early departee. But this lack of firm knowledge caused the peloton to divide and, whereas Lance and I pursued the onward journey, the others dilly-dallied sufficiently to lose their way. Riding high on the plateau leading to Staple my phone rang. Bill K was on the other end and announced "we don't know which way you went and anyway Richard N has got a puncture". After a short discussion and further phone call it was decided we would all meet up outside of Staple church, so Lance and I pushed on past the Black Pig and through the Staple "S" bend to the church where we seated ourselves in anticipation of the arrival of the main part of the peloton.
Eventually, in dribs and drabs, the others arrived, including the repaired Richard N and also Bill V who it appears had not veered off earlier and was still part of the group, albeit at the tail end. But at this point, realising that he couldn't persuade us to take an early coffee he decided to head for home rather than push on to Bekesbourne. So now we were seven.
The ride bypassing Wingham to Bramling was executed without drama despite being largely upslope and into the light wind, except that is for a wonderful moment of nostalgia. Heads down and enjoying the quiet freedom of cycling in near-perfect conditions we were sudden if rudely reminded of our senior years when a flash of red lycra whizzed past us overtaking the spread out peloton in a jiff. But wait! He wasn't alone, for on his tail, literally up his backside, he was being pursued by our own Richard N who had simply been unable to resist the effect of memory lane and thought he was back once again cycling at 40mph up the Tour de France alpine route. It warmed our hearts to realise that one of us "oldies" could still put up such a good showing when challenged by this red-clad lycra-lad. Bravo Richard!
Chalkpit Farm cafe provided us with excellent refreshment as always and the decision to return mainly along the same route was taken. Bill K left us early on as he headed along a more direct route to his home and Richard N decided to go direct to the asparagus farm whereas the remaining peloton headed towards Griffin Arms at Chillenden to enjoy an excellent "light" lunch before heading home. Past Worth, where we bid farewell to Lance, I told the remaining two others that I was too tired to cycle back via the undulations of Finglesham and would risk the main road, not something I would normally consider. They decided to come with me. Once the exposed road was passed I took the first opportunity to get off the road and mount the narrow pavement although it began with a very confined section with a brick wall on the left making it a bit of a juggling act which I just managed OK. Tom kept to the road until the wall had ended but Jack attempted to follow me and caught the kerb which resulted in him scraping along the wall causing a certain amount of consternation among other road users including the driver of a tractor coming in the opposite direction who flashed his lights and tooted his horn to bring the ensuing rearward drama to my attention. Fortunately Jack was OK and we continued our journey by going directly to Sholden and our respective homes. 34 miles in excellent conditions. (JG)