Sunday, 26 May 2013

Chasing The Sun!

Hello Blog Lovers.

This blog is a little behind schedule and there is a perfectly good explanation for that, and it is because I was too tired to write it up yesterday, after I had finished a ride that I started on Friday night! Thats right, its FNRttC again!

You would think being as it supposed to be summer time (and someone did say in the group that the longest day is due shortly) that the warm weather would be here! But there we all were, just as the last time I did a Friday ride, all wrapped up, hats, gloves, and buffs with waterproofs secreted about in various pockets. Some even wearing theirs.

1. Hyde Park Corner - The Gathering

I was excited about the nights ride, I do like having a challenge to do, and I remember the last time I did this particular ride I didn't feel well, but I  managed to keep up with everyone. But this night I was feeling good and very confident.  I was also on my new wheels.  The first long ride for my beautiful pink bike, I know she will do me well!  (Sorry I called her she again!)  The Old Boy was also taking out his new bike as well, give them a good test run.

We met Big E along the A21 and then we all made our way to Hyde Park Corner. There seemed to be a ton of traffic about and it also seemed that we got caught up at every set of traffic lights! I am sure it took us longer to get to HPC than it had done before! But still, we arrived there about 11:30, plenty of time to catch breath, catch up with chit chat and join in with the safety talk by Captain Leggy.

There were about 60 or more crazy souls prepared to cycle to Burnham-on-Crouch, our destination for breakfast! There was a least a dozen newbies on the ride and quite a few faces that I remember from the other rides I had been on, Mice, and Susie and Long Martin are just some of the names that I can remember.  In this day of equality Susie was designated as our 'All up woman' and the tail end Charlies, Mechanics and WayFinders were all given their roles, all very important roles to keep the ride moving as smoothly as possible.

We soon had the call for the 'off'. The excited chatting group of cyclists, hunched up at the side of the road, ready to cross and leave HPC. The lights were green for us, a Wayfinder stood in the front of the traffic to make sure that we all crossed this first set of lights together, after that, we all obeyed the highway code, just as all other road users.   We snaked our way through the traffic,  passing our great tourist attractions, Big Ben beging one of them.  I recalled the last time I was passing Big Ben, it was on April 21st, as I ran/walked towards it, 3 miles left to do of my very first marathon! I big smile came to my face as I remembered.

Heading down the embankment I noticed some young girls, who obviously had been out partying or maybe even on their way to another one, three of them had flat shoes on but one didn't. This one in particular had a very high pair of stilettos on, "I bet she wished she had flats with her now" I thought to myself" Just then I watched her as she took a step, her heel didn't quite make a straight landing and I saw as her ankle twisted.  She fell over, her bag spilling on the pavement as her friends quickly came to her aid. Yup, I really think she wished for some flats heels now! 

We carried on our way through the streets of London stopping for a regroup near the Tower of London. The Old Boy pointed out the pub that he and the rest of my family had been in while waiting for me to come pass at mile 22. Again another smile came to me as I recalled that moment I saw them all, 18 of them! A great and welcoming sight they were too!

We weaved our way through the traffic, stopping to regroup one or two more times, we had use of the mechanics today as a puncture was fixed before we even got out of London.  I do love riding through London at this time of night! Just for the people watching!  'Gents' having intelligent  (beer fueled) conversations over the last cigarette of the evening, with fingers drawn! Girls tottering out on the high heels! Will we ever learn!

Going through Essex was just as interesting! The night life there just as bustling.  A young lady, again, in high heels, was having difficulty walking, her young man very sweetly took off his trainers and gave them to the young lady to walk home in, he walked in his socked feet!  (I didn't actually see this, it was retold to me at our Stock stop). Another group of very young looking girls, walking through our throng of bikes as we stood waiting for the regroup, talking about some young lads and the f's and blinds' coming from their innocent looking faces, just didn't fit! So very Essesx!

I was determined not to be the last one that holds up the ride, over taking some of the group to make sure.  I was most pleased with myself when I actually overtook some one on a flyover! And not on the decline side either!  It felt good to actually do that manoeuvre!  But there was no time for patting on the back, there was still plenty of miles to go.  I was determined this time I will see the sun rise in His glorious splendour, over the trees!

It seemed quite a fast paced ride, not quite the genteel ride as it was the first time I went on one of these rides, or maybe, I was just tired. I know I hadn't been in the saddle as much as I would  have liked to, but I have done a couple of long rides to help me prepare, I hoped they will hold me in good stead!

I was concentrating on keeping up with everybody, not being the last in the group, I hardly noticed the transition from town to countryside! It was just so peaceful. Shooshing through the lanes, enjoying the peace, the traffic free roads, and if by chance there were any cars about at this time in the morning then you could hear the calls of the Fridays, "Car up" or Car down" everyone was well briefed and kept to the safety instructions, pointing out "Hole" as they spotted them. The winter had taken it's toll on our roads, that was for certain!

I started to develop problems with my hand! Weakness, numbness! Trying to change gear was getting very difficult! Thankfully I was able to pull the brakes on with no problem!  I pedalled out going down some hills, changed gear to the big cog so I didn't lose momentum, Then changed again with difficulty to the middle cog.
2. The Moon was full!

But then I came up hill, I tried to stay in the middle gear, it was just too hard. I pushed over to the small cog to get me up the hill, I only just managed it as my fingers buckled from the pressure! What was going on!  I was getting a bit concerned.   When we got up the hill I tried to change back to the middle cog and found that I couldn't do it!  I really had to concentrate hard and push it as hard as I could to get back to the middle gear.  This time I will stay in the middle cog! My right hand had no problems, and thank goodness for that!

We were having a stop for tea at Stock, the Tully family very kindly opened up the scout hall for tea, cakes and savoury roles! And the muffins! Oh what can I say about the muffins! "You can fit at least 20 candles on these" the Old Boy said when he saw them!  I was very glad of the rest, and the warmth!  At least this time round getting to this point I didn't cry, or puke up! But I wasn't feeling too well! Maybe that will pass after something to eat, and a nice cup of tea!

There was a good buzz in the room, people chatting, taking pictures, eating and saying hello to everyone. One chap was fixing his bike after a puncture, it seems this trip has had a few victims to the dreaded puncture!  I helped the Old Boy see off the giant sized muffin and I managed to eat a roll.  The Old Boy managed about the same as me, and we both had two cups of tea.  Big E was his usual self, devouring two rolls, huge muffin and two teas!  How does he do it?!
3. Stock tea stop.

As we sat in the room I looked out of the window! The sky was getting lighter, the sun will be making an appearance soon!  Time to go. Captain Leggy gave the orders, he thanked the Tully family for being up at silly o'clock in the morning to deal with the ravenous cyclists crazy enough to cycle from London to the sea side over night, and we wrapped up and said our goodbyes.  The money raised from the proceeds of our feast will be going to their new changing rooms I believe!

Now it's time to chase the sun! I want to see it rise, show its glorious splendour in the morning sky! I have yet to see a magnificent sun rise, the other times it was cloudy, or we were stuck in a motorway services keeping dry while the heavens opened!  My hand, however, didn't get any better with the rest! I really didn't think it would! I was just going to have to do the rest of the ride in middle gear, at least I still had the right hand side gears to get me up and down the undulations that I knew were to come.

The midway snack and tea was very unsettled in my tummy! I hoped that it will stay there!  This ride seemed to be taking it's toll on me. I was wondering if I am just not cut out for the long haul, no sleep, cold weather crazy rides with the Fridays.  All though I was keeping up, and I wasn't at the back with the tailend Charlies and All up Guy, I was finding it tough going.  Speeding along,  as it seemed to me anyway, I was concentrating on my legs to keep them spinning all the time!  My new pedals were beginning to really annoy me as well, the whole 'dual use' thing is the most annoying thing, ever! I couldn't clip into the left foot! Looking down to try and spin the pedal was not an option anymore, as I really needed to concentrate on just moving with the flow.  I think now I have cut my teeth with the clippies I need to invest in the 'real thing'.

The WayFinders marked our route as we turned left and right, heading towards the rising sun. When I saw it, it was just beautiful! An orange orb bobbing up from the horizon turning the sky red.  I wished I had enough energy to stop and take my phone out to take some pictures, but all I wanted to do was to keep on going to our next stop!  I am sure there will be the front riders who will stop and take pictures, maybe I can post them up when I speak to them.

4. Stunning picture of the rising sun!
As you can see, I did speak to Mice! She chased down the sun and captured this beautiful picture, with the "wisps of clouds, like christmas dectorations" as she said.

We took another right turn to face a huge mountain! Well it certainly looked like a huge mountain to me, I just knew there was no way I would be cycling up this hill, I am sure there was also another hill that I walked up, or maybe I am jumping the gun at bit, but I know there were two hills that I walked up. But this particular one the Old Boy said that he had a puncture.  Boy, was I glad about that! I nice rest before I even walked up the hill!  As he started to change his inner tube, I suddenly didn't feel very well at all.  I just knew that the roll and half muffin I had eaten was not going to go to Burnham!  As the Old Boy changed his tyre I was chucking up chunks in the greenery!

5. Me and the Old Boy

I told the Old Boy that I would start to walk up the hill.  The back riders had still not caught up with us and I really didn't want to be at the very back.  I walked up the hill, looking at the sun as it rose colourfully in the sky! I was soon at the top. Back on my bike I started to ride along. This time I was by myself. There was no one in front, no one behind, not a sound of cars or aeroplanes to be heard, only the wooshing of the air as I flew down the slight hill.  A sparrow started to fly just in front of me, it felt as if we were having a race. I pretended that we were as I pedalled just a little bit harder to try and catch up with it! Of course, even the sparrow was faster than me. He was probably just teasing this Old Girl.  It seemed ages before I heard the Old Boy behind me "You did quite well getting this far" he said to me.

Just a little further on, after the various WayFinders pointed us in the right direction we came across the main group. They had waited for us.  I started to ride a bit faster,  The Old Boy and Big E were behind me, both of them with their Garmins, and of course both of them commented on the speed I was going! I am so going to have to get one of those.  I deliberately left my one behind, as I just knew I would forget to turn it off and on again, and it really does annoy me when I have just half a journey to log. 

Just then some of the tailenders came up and spoke to Big E "I had a puncture, I wanted to catch you up and then do a fast bit of pedalling into Burnham for breakfast" He said. And with that they rode off.  They looked as if they were just poodling along, no effort, but I had no chance to keep up with them!
A very quiet sleepy Burnham! Hope the cafe is ready for us!

Burnham-on-Crouch sign stood proudly boasting its name! I had made it! And I wasn't the last one behind, ok, so I wasn't in the front runners, but I had made it.  Tired, completely dodgy hand, but feeling good that I was there! I saw the sun rise and raced a sparrow. I rode along with 60 or so people and I rode along in complete silence by myself! The rain stayed away for 95 percent of the ride, only rained on the way to HPC.  And I felt the warmth of the sun as I rode towards it, warming up my cold bones.  It's just so good to be able to do this!

This is me trying to make myself look glamourous before the Old Boy took another unflattering photo of me!
7.. Breakfast at Burnham-on-Crouch

After breakfast though it was time to make our way back home. Three option were given to us, or for some, four options!
  1. Get a train from Burnham, then change and get another train to London
  2. Ride another 17 miles to Witham and then get a train from there direct to London.
  3. Get on the ferry and ride to Hockly or Rochford.
  4. Ride all the back home (And believe me, there were a few certifiable's doing this option)
I opted for option 3.  It's fun to go by ferry.  And it was only another 6 miles riding to get to the station.  A newbie to the Friday rides was also taking this option, and she asked if we were going to be going fast! Me! Fast, after all those miles, no sleep and a completely dodgy hand, no, fast is out of the equation.  But maybe I should have asked her that same question though, as she was quite speedy as she led the way to Hockley using her IPhone maps to get us there.
8. First boat load of intrepid cyclists.

Geeky stats

Photos 1, 2, 4 and 5 and the very top one curtesy of Mice, a regular Friday nighter, and doing her part as Way Finder and photographer!  Read her blog here

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Mid Week Plod!

Hello blog lovers.

It's not that long now before we have to get our selves sorted for the London to Brighton bike ride, trying to tackle that huge horrible Bitchling Deacon!  I really do want to try and get up it again! I know, crazy eh! I think that last time I attempt it I was not a happy bunny! I could have quite easily have had some cycle road rage thing going on, with .....shall we say two particular individuals that were really only trying to get me up the hill!

Any way, today it was the usual Halstead and Biggin Hill route, but I really do need to try and push hard up the hills, something that I really don't like.  And, to be honest, I didn't quite achieve it. I still plodded up the A21 and the Knockholt road! But still, there is still plenty of other hills that I can practise getting up at speed and with power! Fortunately they are short and sharp hills, interspersed with some flat sections and even some down hills.

Our goal is to get to Keston, The Greyhound pup, and I hope it can be within my fastest or maybe even a pb for this particular route, even with the 3 minutes stops at the top of Halstead, by the round about, then at Cudham north lane, for another 3 minutes, and the at the Shampan!

The thing that I was quite pleased with about todays ride was the bit just before we have to turn left to get to Keston.  After all those long hills, and the little undulate hills, then the long rest as we flew down Biggin Hill, usually, by the time I get to that particular hill there is just no power left in my legs.  But today, I found a bit of energy to push myself up these last bits of hills.  I could hear the Old Boy behind me saying "That's it, keep it going, you're doing well!"  I just wanted to get to the top as quick as I could!  Lets check the geeky stats out, see if I did just that!  (I nice link into my geeky stats, I thought)

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Farningham - Revisited!

Hello blog lovers,

What a glorious day it has been today. The sun was shining, after the promised rains failed to arrive.  What else can you do but get out and have some fresh air.  Me and Naggy Neighbour had planned to go for a run after I came back from church and then maybe grab some lunch somewhere in a local hostelry!  But Naggining Sister called me and tempted both me and N.N. to go for a bike ride.  "Only to Shoreham, and then back again" she said.  Well, I certainly didn't fancy riding up the same hill that we have to come down "Why don't you go to Eynsford and go home that way" I asked her
"Cos I don't know how to get there" She said.

I told her to give N.N. a call and see if she wanted to do the cycle ride instead.  It's good cross training, I'm sure she will go for it.  It was all set.  Nagging Sister told N.N. that we are going for a 9.5 mile to a pub and then make our way home again. N.N. thought she could manage that. The place for lunch is the Kings Head in Shoreham Village.

We all met up outside my house, well, N.N. only had to ride over the green to me, where as N.S and her Beau had to come a couple of miles.  We all set off towards the A21.  "We are not coming home by the same route" I told them all, "We can go to Eysnford and then on to Farniningham" I explained.  I knew the way there, and I felt confident.  The only bit I may have problems with is when we get near to Swanley, I know we have to take a straight across and at another road its a left turn, but for the life of me I wasn't quite sure which one was which.  But it's not the outback, and we will get home eventually, that I am sure off.

For someone who hasn't been on a 'proper' bike ride for years, N.N. was flying up the A21 and then flew up the Halstead turn off.  I was trailing along at the back with N.s. Dan was in front of me, I think maybe catching up to N.N.!  We had a quick breather, just to regroup, as we got to the Shoreham turn off.  Then we were all ready to do the undulating ride to the next right turn that will take us down to the village.

I kept at the back, so that I can keep an eye on everyone, well that's my excuse, and it is a valid one too. The calls of 'Car up' or 'Car down' came from our small group, I thought it best to teach them a few FNRttC call signs, 1, because it is good to know these things, and 2, it makes it more of a sociable thing, knowing where everyone is, is very comforting for everyone.

We soon got to the pub, drinks ordered, lunch ordered, and chat starting about the ride so far! Everyone was having a great time, it was a totally relaxed ride so far. Here is a picture of us all.

from L to R, Dan, Nagging Sister, Naggy Neighbour and me.
Notice how we had our drinks ordered first!  It really was a lovely day, and we were all very thirsty.  A lady very kindly offered to take this picture of us all, now if I had taken it, I would have got the bikes in as well, especially my pretty pink bike!

After our lunch we headed on for part two of our ride.  Up to Eynsford. It's another little uphill section, so a nice steady plod up.  But then we do have the dips as well.  I decided to just have a bit of speed as I was getting nearer to Eynsford, and over took N.N, the other two were behind anyway.  I would wait for them at the Ford.  Dan was first to get to me, then N.S. and then N.N.

 It was about 4 ish, I knew the sun don't go down till much later these days, and it's just as well, I had forgotton to put my front light on! Very bad cyclist.  But I was hoping to be home well before sun down.  I really wanted to show them Farningham, the lovely little place me and the Old Boy went to on Wednesday.  I thought this was a little secret place, that no one knew of, and I wanted to stop here for a pint and a photo shoot. "Oh I have been here before" says Nagging Sister, "Yeah, I bring my daughter" says Dan. "And your daughter and my daughter come here as well" added Nagging Sister. Oh, so I am the only one that seems to have missed out on this pretty little place then.  Needless to say, they didn't want to stop here, they all wanted to get nearer home before stopping for our last pint.

Going through Sutton at Hone, Dan decided to take the lead!  I was hoping he wasn't going to be too far in front as we will be taking a right turn by the pub, Ship lane!  I told the girls that is what is happening, Dan was no where to be seen! He was way ahead in front of us now.  We got to the right turn and I told the girls to wait there and I will go look for Dan.  Fortuanatly Dan had a 'feeling' that we will be turning soon and just stopped a little bit up from the lane that we needed.

I was still pretty confident as to which way to get there.  And I shouted out 'Left' or 'Right' when it was needed. Mind you I had to look down at my hands to make sure I relayed the right direction.  No, I haven't got left and right written on my hands,  but it does help me to think about it.  You think at 50 years old  that sort of thing would come naturally to me, but for some reason it doesn't and never has! Weired!

There was only one bit of road that I got wrong, and I knew I would, as it looks very similar to the other road that we have to make a turn at. But I called it wrong.  Coming through Swanley, we should have gone straight over the road but I said 'Left turn'  Fortunately, when we got to the end of everybody knew where there was, all apart from me that is! And so it was easy enough to stick to the plan of getting to Crittals Corner and then up to Chislehurst.

It wasn't that long now before we were sat in the pub at Chislehurst, enjoying our last drink of the day, and a tasty bowl of olives!  After this we told Dan and N.S that we are going in the opposite direction as them, we will be going through Chislehurst and then Pettswood, where as N.S. and Dan have to negotiated Summer Hill!!

As we arrived to our road, me and Naggy noticed that the ice cream van was there, so guess what!

Naggy and my hand with ice cream!

Geeky stats for you.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

A Mid Week Ride!

Hello blog lovers.

Well, for all you usual readers of my blogs,my usuall mid week rides consist of about about 18 to 20 miles, a poodle around the local area, and then back home again, (usually via a fav public house). But judging by last Saturdays riding I am, indeed, in need of as many miles in the saddle as possible. But I still wasn't expecting exactly the ride that we did this evening.

Let me start from the beginning, always a good place to start. The Old Boy told me he was going to do about 20ish miles, the usual, I thought. And that is up Halstead, and beyond.  In my mind I am still thinking 20 ish miles, I feel sure that is what he said. But then he said we are going to Shoreham but coming in from the opposite direction. We have to ride up to Polhill Garden centre and then ride all the way down! 

The last time I had some long down hills to do I was a bit nervous on my bike, and even more nervous when the only way to control my speed was to get down onto the drop bars to get a good grip on the brakes!  But since then Big E did something to my bike. He turned the steering thingy upside down, so that it is in a more pointy upward direction. So now, that should help me get better control of my brakes, make more of a comfortable ride, or so I am told.

To be honest, and don't tell him or the others that suggested I do this, I couldn't understand how it would help with the whole gripping of the brakes issue!  But it did! And it was more comfortable being slightly upright! Just because my bike looks like a 'grown ups' bike, it doesn't mean that  have to suffer for fashion (just like we do with the high heels girls, am I right or am I right?)  The Old Boy did the same with his steering thingy as well, so it's a more comfy ride for him too.

So there I am, in my spandex and my bright pink rain coat. Well, the weather looked really iffy! In fact when we left the house it had just started to rain! I asked the Old Boy if he wanted to go and get his raincoat but he was more optimistic than me. "We are heading over there, towards that patch of blue sky" he said "And besides, this is just a passing shower"  I looked over at the patch of blue, and looked up at the big black cloud above.  I had to admire his optimism!  It was a tad chilly too! I was hoping the ride up to Halstead will sort that one out. 

I really have 'lost' my cycle legs.  The A21 seemed to be particularly hard today! I was going so slowly up. The OB had his Garmin going, telling me exactly how slowly we was creeping up there.  He wanted to do an average pace of about 10 mph!  Lets hope I can pull that back on the downhill sections. 

As we were getting to to the top of the Halsted hill, where I usually stop and catch my breath, glug of water/juice/air!, I thought to myself I am going to go straight on, but before I could say that the OB mentioned that we are not going to stop there, and that we are going to Shoreham.  The down hills towards Shoreham were the ones I was very nervous about last time we went down there.  Now I shall see if the little flipping of the thingy-me-bob has done the trick.  But, instead of turning left he said that we were going straight up, over the round about and then down Polhill hill.  Now this is a long, long downhill section. I certainly wouldn't like to be climbing it in the opposite direction!  Now we shall really see if its a move comfortable and safer ride for me.  With still a bit or nervousness going on those drops (which I probably won't do) we proceeded down the hill.

Then the descent started. So far so good. I was comfortable on my bike, and I was using the brakes! Ok, so it worked. Had no doubt it would (liar liar pants on fire!) All the way down to a turning that pointed the way to Shoreham. I was getting more and more confident on my bike, even letting go of the brakes and picking up a bit more speed.  I think it was a good idea of mine to twist the steering head tubey thingy......darn it ok, so I still not quite sure of the anatomy of a bike, and I didn't think of the idea to flip it over, but I am sure pleased that it worked!

Once in Shoreham it was, again, straight through and onwards towards Eynsford.  No stopping yet for a refreshment.  We are going through Eynsford and on to Farningham.  I had a quick stop though, to look at the little river! Whats the point on going out on your bike if your can't stop and admire all around you, right!  I wished I had my phone though, I could have taken some pictures, especially when we got to Farningham! What a lovely little place that is, and it has this lovely......well.......what I can guess from reading about it, its a cattle grid thingy that goes across the river.  They think it was built to stop the cows wandering off down river when they were crossing the ford.  But it really is a pretty looking bridge thingy.  I will have to get some pictures next we pass through there.

Form here it seemed to be a long slog of undulations to Sutton at Hone. From there it was a slow ride into Swanley to a a most welcome sight for sore eyes.....legs, bum etc.  I have stopped there before, and I know that the WWW's stop there on occasions too, it's called The Lamb.  The landlady let us wheel our bikes through and put them in the back yard! Nice and safe and I can sit in the warmth to enjoy my pint of 'Boom' and packet of ready salted crisps.

I noticed the time, and it was ten to nine, "I think it's going to be a takeaway for dinner tonight" the Old boy said.  I didn't appreciate how far we had to go before we got home!  We soon got on our way.  I was glad of my raincoat, it's warm, even if it not raining.  I was also feeling a bit tired as well. I know my face was glowing pink when we arrived at the pub, and now there is to be more undulations to keep the colour up!

Another long slog through Hextable and Swanley, still with undulations just not as high as they have been.  The Old by gave me a choice when we got to the big round about, onwards towards Crittals corner, which I really didn't fancy, or turn left and go through St Mary Cray and Orpington and then up Knoll Rise.  I know Know Rise has had me out of my saddle a few times, and I know I have conquered it a few times, but at least it's nearer to home. I feel like I am almost there. So I chose to go there, and it was just as well, because the road towards Crittals Corner was blocked by police! I just hope that it wasn't a fatality!

The back streets through the 'Crays's seemed to go on and on. Each mini roundabout I thought would be the last one before the High street turnoff.  The local kebab shop was looking very good, in my mind, now.  Deffo no way am I cooking dinner!  We were soon zooming up the high street, only Knoll Rise to do now, then its plain sailing.....ooops wrong sport.....plain riding all the way via the local Kebab shop.

Dinner in hand, or at least hanging on the handle bars of the Old Boys bike, cans of pop in my back pocket and the last mile home!  Needless to say, in the beginning I had misheard the Old saying how many miles were were going to be doing today! 30 miles! Mid week! what ever next for this Old Girl.

A good ride out for a mid week. Maybe next time though I should start off as sooner rather than later!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Lets Go To Yalding!

Hello Blog Lovers!

It's Saturday, the sun is shining, kind of, and we have nothing to do! No cars to fix, no shopping to do, no holidays to chillax on, so lets go to Yalding! Yay!!.......Of course there is some horrendous hills involved! 

We asked Nagging Sister to see if she wanted to come along with her beau. After all, they do need to do tons of saddle time to get ready for the L2B this year!  Unfortunately only Nagging Sister could make it. But she liked the sound of Yalding, (apparently it didn't sound that far!)  We did tell her that it was about 30 miles away.  I think she heard 'It's a 30 mile round trip' Oh well, surprises are good, right? And besides there's always the train back

We met Nagging Sister at the bus garage on the A21. The first thing that the Old Boy did was to check out her tyres! Flat as pancakes! So he gave them a little pump up with the tiny pump that she had with her.  Just enough to get to the garage a little further up the A21.  Her tyres, by the way, were only half inflated!!

I am still not quite 'match fit' (at least I hope its that reason!) when it comes to riding my bike, or maybe it's because I am still getting used to my new ride and cleats!  (My confidence with both is going higher by the way)  Riding up to the garage N.S. was in front of me, pulling away.  Earlier this year I remember having to wait at the traffic lights at Locksbottom for her to get there. But now, here she is zooming in front.  The Old Boy was behind me, I could here him chuckling away!

After putting the right amount of air in her tyres we continued on our way.  We were going through Shoreham village, but not stopping! This is going to be toughie! "Stay in your cleats Old Girl" I thought to myself, "No need to unclip, nothing to see here" as we sped pass the Kings Head, one of our usual stops for refreshments, and we rode on over the little river.

From here we turned right. Usually we turn left towards Eynsford. It looks all up hill! And it is up hill! Oh well, we knew it wasn't going to be Holland-esque ride today!  I do need the practise thats for sure (just watching N.S. pull away from up the A21 proves that!) I have a couple of big rides coming up in the next few weeks! And if there is one thing the Old Boy is good at, its finding nice hills to ride up! 

It's a steady old plod, up hill! Up more hills, and still more hills!  There was a couple of tiny little dips, but they were soon replaced by more ups.  Both me and NS resorted to getting off our bikes and walking up, on more that one occasion.  The Old Boy seemed to be on top form, getting up the hills as if he were on a motorbike! The weather started to turn as well. There were drops of rain in the air.  I kept hoping that it won't come to anything more than that!

We cycled through Kemsing and Seal. The hills seemed to be relentless!  I knew, from the time before, what to expect, but listening to NS, as she pedalled up the hills made me smile! I was like that the last time I did this route. In fact, I think it was in one of my blackest moods on a cycle ride, (apart from the time trying to get up Bitchling Deacon with the Fridays)  it was a hard slog. Even though I walked some of these hills, I seemed to remember it being a lot harder last time! Strange, very strange!

The next little village was just a little further along.  But we had to stop! The rain really started to come down quite a bit, and it was time to get our jackets on!  There were some other cyclists going the other way, and I heard them saying, "We should have stayed in the pub" They had stopped as well, to put on their wets. "What pub, where is that" I said to them,  "It's just down there, around the corning, about 300 yards they said "Oh perfect! that is where we shall hold up until the rain goes". I thought

We had a lovely lunch there, the Plough at Ivy hatch, a tad expensive, but very nice BLT, with chips for me and the Old Boy, Nagging Sister had a cheese and onion ciabata with tomato soup.  I had a pudding as well! A lovely lemon tart! Very nice!......Well, I thought I had earned it!

The rain eventually passed and was just left with a slight drizzle! We kept our raincoats on. Try to at least keep our bottoms dry (without success I might add) and we continued our journey to Yalding. Of course, me being me, I forgot to switch on my Garmin again, and I think we had travelled for a good 4 or 5 miles before I realised that, so my Geeky stats will look like I 'flew' across the landscape! But I remember seeing the sign for Plaxtol, so we must have gone through there.

Now this is the sweeties, the rewards for those nasty hills. A nice flat route for the rest of the ride to Yalding.  We said to Nagging Sister that there is a train station at Yalding, if she didn't want to do the ride back.  It seemed that his put more spin in her pedals as she kept up with the Old Boy.  You could hear her say "Yay, its the train station" and she spotted the direction sign, and then a couple of minutes later say "Hey, there's the station, why is he going past it?"  "Just keep going" I said to her, "You will like what is at the end"

Just a little further on is another pub, I think its called the Blue Anchor.  That is a finale destination.  She soon stopped moaning and groaning when she saw it.  We had a drink there, and sat out side. Then the rain came again! We moved ourselves under shelter and we all decided that getting the train home would be a good idea just about now.

So after our drinks we headed off to Paddock wood train station. The thought of getting home on a nice warm train seemed to have given NS even more of a boost than before, as she flew up the road, over the hump bridge and on towards Paddock Wood. I had forgotten to start my Garmin again, such a scatter brain at times, but when we got to the very busy fast road, which I can't remember what its called, the Old Boy decided that he was going to ride home after all. He pointed me and NS in the direction of Paddock wood and we continued to the station.

A very nice little plod out c.30 ish miles, very wet and dirty miles! Me, Nagging Sister and the Old Boy had earned our stripes today! More so the Old Boy though, with the whole journey riding back home!

So geeky stats for you