The night ride to Whitstable is always something to look forward to with this one no exception. Heading off from NW8, it occurred to me that London looked more of less as I remember it before the dreaded C word - a good thing. People were out in force (perhaps boosted by the lovely weather) and the night sky looked clear. It was going to be a lovely adventure.
There was a protest on Westminster bridge that I think was still ongoing, so I opted for the nearby Waterloo Bridge to cross the Thames from north to south.
At the meeting point, most participants seemed to be there already. It was good to see the Brompton peeps out in force. I was particularly pleased to see Geoff, who I had not seem for what seemed like ages.
Our ride leader Kim with her trademark 80's leg warmers was busy ticking off names and a few minutes before the big off, went through the interactive safety talk. With that done, it was time to turn on the lights, GPS trackers and let the adventure unfold.
Progress was brisk and it was great to catch up with friends old and new. It wasn't too long until we had reached Greenwich and not far away the Thames that we would stick quite close to for a good section of the first part of the ride.
I had decided to just wear a pair of shorts but had packed some leg warmers (not the kind our ride leader was wearing in case you are wondering) just in case. That just in case came pretty quickly and I doubt if I strayed too far out of the NW8 postcode before I was there at the side of the road, doing my best not to make a scene putting them on!
|The Thames Flood Barrier in the distance|
Again we passed the Woolwich Ferry and again I made a mental note that I must pay this a visit to travel across the Thames!
At Woolwich Arsenal we stopped to regroup and I took this as a queue for a photo opportunity. The 'Assembly' sculptures by Peter Burke always grab my attention as they silently stand to attention. I am sure they were not designed for the intention of the passing Brompton user to park their bike and take a photo, but it does almost seem that that!
Not far from Gravesend we stopped to regroup at the many bus stops there. As per usual I parked my bike up for a photo. Sadly, I think that on this occasion I was one of the only people who did. I am very easily pleased.
Not far away we stopped outside the former 'Call Boy' pub on the rather lovely Harmer Street with a few of its buildings now having Grade II listings. Sadly, the 'Call Boy' is still very much shut. The fencing around the outside might hint at it being developed but could also mean it is just keeping people out. On the next adventure to Whitstable, if we go this way there may be more happening?
At about 03:50 in the a.m. we had cycled over 30 miles and the halfway stop and refreshments beckoned. It also got a little chillier with a hint of some fog that drifted in little patches.
Not long after this we arrived at the hall of the Church of the English Martyrs in Stroud. Ride leader for some our ride and all round good egg Tim, was on his own serving rolls and some pretty damned good homemade cakes. The funds from our donations go towards the 'Step and Learn' charity.
As usual I very much enjoyed all of the refreshments but did have trouble staying awake and stringing two sentences together.
After about an hour we said our thanks and got ourselves ready for the final 33ish miles to the end at Whitstable. Many thanks to Tim for another great spread!!
|Brompton off-street parking option|
As always, I emerged from the sanctuary of the church hall frozen. I had a gillet, a non-waterproof boil in the bag jacket and a neck warmer. All went on! For the forts few miles I still felt the chill and these were to sat on until more or less the end of the ride.
We passed Rochester and its 12the Century keep and I again made a mental note to pay it a visit. I did this the last time I was this way but have yet to do so. One of the way my brain works is to be able to picture what historic sites might have been like at certain points in the past. This is probably why I read History at university and possibly why I like London so very much!?
The next few miles saw the transition into dawn. The sky was filled with a gentle, swirling fog (that also made things chilly). The sun was suspended in an orange sky and the noise of birdsong overpowered any sounds our bicycles made. It was stunning.
Arriving at Faversham just before 8 a.m. a few of us took a photo of the rather unique church of St Mary of Charity. Apart from its rather splendid spire it is reputed to have the tomb of King Stephen, thus making it one of the few churches outside of London where an English king had been interred.
One of great features of this ride is that from the final right turn into Graveney Marshes runnign through to Whitstable, you are allowed to take the last 5ish miles at your own pace and not wait for anyone. With the final right turn pointed out, Kim our ride leader gave us the go ahead and we were off.
I kept up with Mark and a few of the other Brompton peeps for a good few miles but they went further and further into the distance. These last few miles I enjoyed greatly and I arrived at about 8:30 a.m. Placing my order for a Full English breakfast, it was placed in front of me about 10 minutes later and didn't last long.
Saying my goodbyes I headed off to get a few photos of the sea and some beach huts before boarding the 9:49 a.m. train for St Pancras.
At just after 11:00 I arrived back in London, feeling okay and not actually too tired. I arrived back home just after 11:30 a.m.
|Don't worry, I only took this photo and then put it back on the luggage rack. |
Another great ride. Many thanks to Kim for leading the ride and her team to Tail End Charlies. Again, thanks to Tim for the halfway refreshments.
The next official ride is in about three weeks time and is rather different in that it isn't going to the coast at all. I look forward to this one greatly.
Until next time, stay safe out there people!
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