I’ve taken part in the Great Kent Bike Ride twice before, but only doing the short route of 35 miles. This year, I thought I’d do the long route but then the bastards decided that the long route wasn’t long enough at 60 miles and added a new 100 mile long route. So the long route is now the medium route and so it was the medium route I did.
In previous years, I’d ridden my beautiful Pashley Poppy although I rode it into town the other day and because I’m now used to my lighter, nippier bike, it was like riding a tank, albeit a pretty pink tank and I have no idea how the hell I’ve done 35 miles on it in one go.
I was up bright and early, got all dressed up in my cheapy cycling gear from Sports Direct (don’t knock Sports Direct – it may look like a jumble sale and you always feel like you might catch something in there but they do have some great bargains) and I almost looked like a cyclist.
That’s not fat squidging out the back of my top, it’s flapjacks, honest. Trek Bars to be precise. Peanut & Oat and Mixed Berry to be even more precise.
It was a quiet ride this year – the only reason I can think of is because of the new 100 mile route as I reckoned the people who usually do the 60 mile route would have gone for the longer route this year and they had to start between 7 and 8am, unlike the lightweights doing the shorter routes who didn’t have to start until between 8 and 10 (‘between’ being taken literally by me, as I turned up at 9).
Despite the info saying there was a refreshment stop every 10 miles or so, the first one didn’t appear until 22 miles and even then there was no tea on offer, just water. The next stop – at 40 miles – was a cafe but you had to leave your bikes round the back and as there were only a couple of people around, I didn’t want to leave my bike unattended and I hadn’t brought a lock with me. Someone told me the next stop was only 5 miles away though so I carried on and, hurrah, the next stop was indeed only 5 miles away and they had tea, yay.
The ride was great and the weather was perfect, except for the wind in places, especially down the really boring long road along Dungeness – the struggle on that road not made any easier by the dents in the road every two feet. In fact, the only real moan I have about the ride is because of the roads in places – there had been a lot of resurfacing taken place recently which is obviously a good thing, given the state of the roads, but it’s not a good thing when you’re on a bike and the resurfacing means the roads are basically made of gravel with a good chance of skidding.
At 54 miles, the route split again with an arrow pointing one way for the short and medium riders, and an arrow pointing the other way for the hardcore long route riders. I briefly pondered whether I fancied doing another 46 miles but decided I didn’t, so I followed the arrow that took me to the finish line where I was handed a certificate and a bottle of water.
Then I cycled the two miles home and spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden with my Kindle and cold cans of Budweiser.