So on Friday night, before the lergy set in, I headed to Whitstable with the Friday night crew. The omens weren't good. It started weeing with rain as I left Paddington and cycled through Hyde Park. I get hot at the mere mention of a waterproof jacket and as I and a couple of other early birds took shelter under the Hyde Park Corner arch we were sceptical. More and more lights blinked towards us and soon a sizable number of regulars had arrived, including the lovely Andy on this:
Yes, it's a two-wheeled recumbent with a ghost on it. I knew it was there but on dark country lanes at 3am I defy anyone not to jump a little bit when it veers into view.
Anyhoo, we gathered and had the usual safety talk from Super Simon and swung onto our bikes. As we set off it stopped raining and I'm pleased to say it remained dry until the very end, when we pulled into Whitstable bay.
We were plagued by the p******* fairy even while still in London. One of the lovely regulars went over a beer bottle at London Bridge and tore a new tyre. He was visited twice more over the ride and our total for the whole ride was 10/11 depending on who you asked.
All this meant that the first half took far longer than it should have, but, on the plus side, I got to see where the Woolwich ferry is while chatting to the lovely Mike who had his bike rigged up like a Christmas tree. I know I keep saying lovely but they just are.
The air was cool and crisp with the full moon slowly revealed as the journey went on.
The cafe stop in Rochester was more than welcome and I have discovered that there's nothing quite like a fried egg baguette to perk you up. Having opened specially for us, the owners were a little put out when a couple of revolting teenagers turned up and tried to make trouble. In the end and irate female owner and the sight of 50 weary and lycra-clad bikers forced a retreat.
We headed into the countryside proper and it was beautiful. Empty fields and minimal traffic, cold clean air and good company. Bliss.
I was promised the phenomenon of 'misty sheep' at one point. Apparently, this time last year the mist was such that all you could see of the sheep were the tops of their heads. The mist had burned off by the very end but I did get the bleating from within the fog at one point.
As we arrived in the bay the rain returned in spitting form and the sight of bikes that meant 'Cafe stop!' was massively welcome. The final destination was a fabulous cafe with a large terrace to look out over the sea. It was too cold to sit out for me but a few hardened nutters sat out there just to say they had. A few even harder nutters demanded to be served beer when the clock reached 10am.
This was easily the most knackering ride I've done but my God it was fun, more pics to follow.