On a truly gusty day it was quite a surprise to see five riders at the pier ready to take on Boreas's opponent. My suggestion of riding with the wind to Margate and then returning by train was quickly ruled out and The Cider Works decided upon, mainly as rain was threatened at around 12 noon. Keeping to our tried and trusted route through Fowlmead and Finglesham did mean that we would get quite a lot of shelterfrom local vegetation, although there were one or two exposed areas we could not avoid. Fortunately the long climb up beside the dual-carriageway, Whitfield Bypass, was by and large like a protective tunnel with trees and bushes shielding us from the head-on southerly blowing at about 20mph and occasionally gusting much more. Needless to say the others managed the hills far better than I but we all got there in the end. Despite the serious wind it was unusually mild for the time of year at somewhere around 18ºC and all but one cyclist were wearing shorts. Present were Tom, Norman, Malcolm, Bill K and yours truly, John G.
As we have come to expect the quality of refreshments and service were excellent at this out-of-the-way establishment and we relaxed with the usual mix of conversation. However, mindful of the impending precipitation, we took our leave and headed for our respective homes.
Bill and Malcolm opted for a descent along the same route as we had come while the other three pressed across country towards the old Whitfield Road and the promise of a wind-driven descent through Sutton and Ripple to Mongeham. However this latter route meant yet more hills as we crossed the valleys and passed through West Langdon. At last we climbed the final hill with great relief as we now expected the reward of a seriously fast descent, but wait! What was this? "DIVERSION - ROAD CLOSED" greeted us with an indication of a diversion which would take us across more valleys and about 25 more hills. "Surely cyclists can get through" was my tentative suggestion which was picked up immediately by Tom and Norman and so we embarked upon an hurtling descent on an unusually empty road now that all other traffic was obeying the commands of the notices. Down the steep hill into Sutton, round the blind bend and.... stop! A large tractor cum JCB and then a road-works lorry were completely blocking the narrow lane. What now, I thought?
No problem for Norman. He simply got off his bike and squeezed beside said vehicles and the local hedge, dislodging no small amount of leaves and twigs, until he was clean through the other side, much to the amusement of the road workers who had been observing our plight with no little mirth. "Well I'm not cycling back up that hill into that wind" I said and steeled myself for a faceful of vegetation, only to find that Tom had already embarked upon the Norman route. Once safely through this hazard we continued our hurtling until Ripple where Norman turned for home. Tom and I pushed on to Mongeham, but at the ourskirts of this village, guess what? "ROAD CLOSED - FOLLOW DIVERSION". Once bitten, twice shy - "b•gger that" we said in unison and pressed on into Mongeham, sometimes on pavement, sometimes on road, sometimes against the traffice flow and occasionally with it. We parted at St. Nicholas Church, Sholden, having had a very energetic, eventful, windy and hilly ride of just under 20 miles. As I approached my house a few specks of rain began to fall - excellent timing! (JG)