Well it was a pretty grim day staring out the window, grey clouds blocking out any chance of the sun poking its head out.
Five of us headed off in a southerly direction from Tooting Bec, I had a vague idea of where we were heading having studied the map, and this being the route V and I had planned for the Xmas ride that never happened. Five minutes in and I ended up taking the wrong turning so had to think on my toes. No…not really about ten minutes after that had the trusty iPhone out trying to figure out the best route stopped in the middle of god knows where and still no countryside in sight.
Rolling on a bit managed to guide us through Croydon which I was specifically trying to avoid at all costs but it seemed inevitable…we ended up riding over these tram lines…I remember thinking to myself ride perpendicular to the tracks otherwise my wheels are going to get wedged into the tram line (easy to get into but not so easy to get out of) next thing I heard a thud and turning around saw V in a heap on the floor…she had done exactly what I was trying to avoid…ouch!
So all in all not a good start…we did eventually get out of London and headed into Kent at a pretty slow rate, with all the stopping and starting…my terrible navigational skills, although in my defence this was meant to be a recce ride and was only originally going to be V an I. Was great having others along though…just covering my ass.
The weather continued to deteriorate, getting pretty foggy and being hard for motorists to see us we grouped together with the riders with the most visibility being at the front and back. No getting into a steady pace a couple of riders two of you in fact, don’t worry I won’t mention names, sped off in front and missed a turning. Having tried to find them but having no luck and eventually contacted them via phone with limited mobile reception, the norm it seems for O2.
People were cold and the split contingent decided to find the closest train station home. By this time we had ridden through some absolutely stunning location in Kent, aptly named the “Garden of England”. 3 of us carried on to our final destination which was about 5 miles away from the point we had lost our other two comrades.
We eventually cycled into the town of Chiddingstone,which is one of the smallest villages I have come across in my not so frequent travels into the English countryside, with a very beautiful church. After doing some reading on Chiddingstone and described as “being the perfect surviving example of a Tudor village in the county”.
An absolute gem to visit and the ‘Castle Inn’ the pub we found was spot on good grub friendly people. Lovely lovely lovely…!!!