Tandem Club - South East London - 2008 Events


All tandem riders (and bike riders interested in tandem riding)
are welcome on any of our rides.
PLEASE NOTE, PARTICIPATION IN RIDES IS AT YOUR OWN RISK.
We aim to start all rides promptly at the published times.


Note: Please contact ride organizer before attending a ride.
January April July October
February May August November
March June September December


Sunday, 20th January 2008

Meopham, Kent
Joint ride with the Kent group
start time: 09:45 for 10:00
approx. ride distance: 35 miles
organized by: Cliff & Pauline
telephone: 01732 750885
email:


Who would have thought we could have had such a great cycling day in January? With the forecast for wind and rain, we did not expect sunshine.

Seven Tandems and 4 solos (Karen and Ben having cycled to the start) met at Meopham leisure centre. We headed out into ‘rolling countryside.’ The route designed to keep us all warm. Not that it was necessary and as we stopped to regroup lots of members were taking layers off.

We rode up to Speed Gate at Fawkham for our coffee break and I think every other cyclist had done the same, it was great to see it so busy. So full that some of us had to sit outside - I was told the bacon buns were great. Two of the solos left us at this point, which meant they missed the five mile roll down the Knatts Valley to Farningham where we lunched in the Lion Hotel.

We travelled northwards along the Darent Valley to Southfleet and then South again, where we suffered our only puncture at New Barn.

Report by Pauline & Cliff Hayward

click here for pictures

Summary
Tandems: 7
Solos: 4
People: 18




Sunday, 24th February 2008

Charlton, London SE7
start time: 09:45 for 10:00
approx. ride distance: 25 miles
organized by: John & Sue
telephone: 020 8855 1693
email:
This ride will be fairly short and will incorporate a visit to the Docklands Museum. They have 50 minute sessions for the kids where they can do a number of interactive activities. Coffee stop (on the way) will be at the farm at the east end of Rotherhithe Street. The cafe has been improved and they can accommodate all of us for cake, bacon sandwiches etc. The kids can go in with the animals which they should enjoy. For lunch there is a Wetherspoons pub next door to the museum which can accomodate all of us in one room.


On this bright and clear winter's day we had 26 people on the ride, cycling 10 tandems and 6 solos – a very good turn-out.

At Surrey Docks Farm
At Surrey Docks Farm
photo: Tricia Anderson
We set off from Charlton and crossed Blackheath to Greenwich Park and after passing through busy Greenwich soon turned off, along some quieter roads and cycle paths close to the River Thames, to Rotherhithe. We stopped off at the Surrey Docks Farm for children and others to play with the animals and also to have a break for coffee.

Moving on, we continued in an westerly direction and rejoined the traffic at Tower Bridge where we crossed to the north side of the river. Once over the river, and now travelling in an easterly direction, we were able to use cycle paths to Docklands.

At one point, following a stop to pump up a tyre, one tandem captain unknowingly cycled off without his stoker! OK - so she is the smoothest stoker we know but nevertheless!!! After a short walk and a reversing tandem, the pair were soon reunited.

In Docklands we arrived at Wetherspoons pub at West India Quay for lunch, just before the busy rush, and enjoyed excellent service and food.

Following lunch, we walked next door to the Museum in Docklands. John (our leader) had acquired 20% discount vouchers for all of us but actually using them proved something of a challenge for the entry computer system as it attempted to admit 26 people simultaneously (with discount)... After some delay, which the staff managed very calmly, it was agreed to allow us all in and pay for the tickets when we left and the computer had unscrambled itself.

We had just short of 2 hours to enjoy the museum before we needed to be leaving for the homeward leg. Two hours was not really long enough to take in the history of the Thames and the dockland area from pre Roman times until the present day. Our tickets, which we did get as we left, are valid for 1 year, so those who want more can visit again at no additional cost.

The return to the start was only 6 miles but required a further crossing of the River Thames, this time via the Greenwich foot tunnel. Usually there are lifts at each end but not today! Both lifts were out of action which meant carrying/bumping all bikes down one end and up the other – about 200 steps in all!

Back in Greenwich, the once proud site of the Cutty Sark was now (since the fire) hidden behind screens. We now had to cycle back up the hill in Greenwich Park and were amazed at the large numbers of people out and about (not all of them obstructing our progress).

Well done and thanks John for organising this short ride and interesting day out.

report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures

Summary
Tandems: 10
Solos: 6
People: 26

Distance: 17 miles
Height Gain: 252 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 14.8 metres per mile (0.92%)
High Point: 48 metres
Low Point: 0 metres




Sunday, 30th March 2008
British Summer Time begins today (spring forward 1 hour)

Epsom Downs, Surrey
start time: 09:15 for 09:30
approx. ride distance: 40 miles
organized by: Rob & Ruth
telephone: 01737 354545, mobile 07816 827166
email:

The ride will head towards Richmond Park, with morning coffee at Teddington Lock and afternoon tea at Esher.


Everybody turned up bang on time, despite the early start and the clocks having gone forward the previous night! Seven tandems and one solo met on top of Epsom Downs, and we coasted downhill to our coffee stop in Nonsuch Park Mansion, which the local council has just agreed to preserve. Those who had the bread pudding found it a bit more difficult than normal to get back on board their tandems!

The route then took us northwards through Worcester Park and Malden and we entered Richmond Park through Ladderstile Gate, our obstacle course for the day. We rode anti-clockwise round the Park, and could see large groups of hinds some way away and jackdaws everywhere watching us closely with their beady eyes. Then we stopped at Pembroke Lodge to have a look at King Henry’s Mound, where we saw a good view of the Thames Valley and also the ‘peephole’ through to St Paul’s Cathedral, 10 miles away. The weather was warming up by this time and layers were coming off.

Tide End Cottage
Tide End Cottage
photo: Tricia Anderson
After this, we left the Park at Ham Gate and crossed the Thames at Teddington Lock to our lunch stop at the Tide End Cottage where Andy and Emily joined us on their tandem. Cliff and Pauline had picked up a slow puncture on this section, but with vigorous use of the pump, held on until lunch where it was fixed.

After lunch, we rode through Bushy Park and past Hampton Court and Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher and Claygate to our tea stop at Squires Garden Centre at Long Ditton. After tea, it was mostly uphill, through Chessington, and we finally emerged again on top of Epsom Downs, where it was now clear enough to see Wembley Arch. We covered 43 miles in all, and not a drop of rain.

report by: Rob & Ruth Maskell

click here for pictures

Summary
Tandems: 7 (+ 1 for part of the route)
Solos: 1
People: 15 (+ 2 for part of the route)

Distance: 43 miles
Height Gain: 598 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 13.9 metres per mile (0.86%)
High Point: 152 metres
Low Point: 7 metres




Sunday, 6th April 2008

family / easy ride
Redhill, Surrey
start time: 09:45 for 10:00
approx. ride distance: 32 miles
organized by: David & Caroline
telephone: 01737 766649
email:

Despite starting in Redhill, this 'family' ride will not be hilly but rather, just gently undulating.
Lunch will be at the Gate after around 18 miles. Approximately 14 miles for the return leg. Possible playground stops at Ifield and Reigate. We will also have a quick look at the outside of Ifield Mill, though it will not be open. Tea and cake at leaders' house afterwards.


Snow on the North Downs
Snow on the North Downs
photo: Tricia Anderson
A heavy snowfall limited the number of people on this ride – including the leader's family who left him to battle the conditions on his solo bike. Those of us who were camped a mere 3.3 miles from the start, at the top of the North Downs, were hemmed in by the snow and unable to make it in time. Others who had intended to get to the start by train were unable to do so because the trains were being replaced by buses. All in all then a small turnout, of just the leader on a half-bike and one tandem team, left the start at the planned time.

The intrepid group headed south on the bike route to Horley and encountered no real difficulties and then circled around to the east and south of Gatwick airport using quiet lanes and tracks until they reached the old water mill at Ifield. This mill has been undergoing refurbishment recently and, although it was not really open to the public, the folks there were more than pleased to show the intrepid cyclists what they had done whilst plying them with refreshments.

Moving on, after passing through Lamb's Green, the trio was soon at the cycle friendly Gate Inn where they stopped for a very pleasant lunch. By this time, the snow had more or less stopped falling and the roads had quickly thawed. The previously snowed-in cyclists who had failed to make the start on account of the deep snow had now had their lunch and were feeling capable of cycling again. So, two more tandems were heading south on a course to meet up with the first group. Mobile 'phones came into their own now in order to ensure contact. This was made at Parkgate and so the group now comprised three tandems and one half-bike giving the outing a much better feeling of being a tandem ride.

Snow was still hanging in the trees and bushes but was gone from the roads, and even from the tracks which were utilized in places, as we headed towards Reigate. From there it's only a couple of miles back to the start point and a further mile to the home of the organizer and very welcome tea and cakes.

report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures

Summary
Tandems: 1 (+ 2 for part of the route)
Solos: 1
People: 3 (+ 4 for part of the route)

Distance: 33 miles
Height Gain: 441 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 13.4 metres per mile (0.83%)
High Point: 119 metres
Low Point: 48 metres




Sunday, 27th April 2008

Orpington, Kent
start time: 09:15 for 09:30
approx. ride distance: 40 miles
organized by: David & Annabelle
telephone: 01689 835673
email:


The day started overcast with a hazy sun but with rain forecast for later. Nine tandems and eighteen people took part.

Heading in a south westerly direction from Orpington, we were soon at High Elms where we stopped for coffee at High Elms Golf Club.

Tandems amongst oil seed rape
Tandems amongst oil seed rape
photo: Neville Frost
After coffee we had the climb to Downe, the descent into Biggin Hill and the concomitant climb out of Biggin Hill. The unmetalled Norheads Lane was a challenge with its huge sloppy muddy puddles causing one couple to walk briefly and another to get very muddy by going too fast through a very deep one. It was nice to be out in the country surrounded by garish oil seed rape. At least those of us who like the look and smell of oil seed rape thought it was nice. Our leaders had warned us that the descent down Chalkpit Lane from the North Downs towards Oxted was dangerous as it was steep and incorporated a tight hairpin bend. It was very scary, then, when one couple's brakes failed completely just before the hairpin and with plenty of steep descent still to go. Further down the hill they encountered a red traffic light with no chance of stopping and were so lucky that the approaching motor vehicles kept well clear. The descent flattened out a little and by using feet as brakes they were able to stop without injury. After adjustment of the brakes they were able to continue. With that excitement over the ride continued on its way to Old Oxted for lunch at the Crown Inn.

Rain started to fall whilst we were having lunch and was still falling slightly when we left. Heading now in a north easterly direction through Limpsfield and Titsey and then along the Pilgrims' Way to Shoreham we took the long climb back up the North Downs via Timberden Bottom to Chelsfield and thence back to the start point in Orpington. A very pleasant ride ended with our leaders, David and Annabelle, treating us to tea, toasted tea cakes and cake at their house.

report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures

Summary
Tandems: 9
Solos: 0
People: 18

Distance: 36 miles
Height Gain: 824 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 22.9 metres per mile (1.42%)
High Point: 273 metres
Low Point: 57 metres




Saturday, 3rd May - Monday, 5th May 2008

Bank Holiday Camping Weekend Event
Standlake, Oxfordshire (6 miles south of Witney and 13 miles west of Oxford)
start time: probably 09:30 but will be agreed by attendees at the time
approx. ride distance: up to 40 miles each day depending on terrain - with easier options
organized by: Neville & Tricia
telephone: 020 8325 8445
email:


We were based for this weekend at Hardwick Parks camping and caravan park. It was chosen because, as well as camping facilities, static vans were also available for hire. The surrounding cycling possibilities also looked good. The staff were very friendly and helpful and it turned out to be a very good choice.

Saturday:

We had the largest turn out of the weekend for Saturday's ride with 13 tandems, 4 solos and 30 people.

The ride was led by Dave Mountain, one time resident of south east London now living in Oxford. The route went via country lanes through Netherton, Appleton and Cumnor to Oxford where people were able to browse around, doing their own thing, and then regrouped at the Kite pub for lunch.

Climbing the steps to Jarn Mound
Climbing the steps to Jarn Mound
photo: Tricia Anderson
We then enjoyed a group ride back to base via the somewhat disappointing Jarn Mound viewing point at Boars Hill. Disappointing because when it was built (circa 1930) it would have had 360 degree views to the surrounding countryside but now, due to the growth of trees the views were very limited.

The whizz down the hill was good fun and we then passed through Wootton, Tubney and Fyfield on our way back to base at Standlake.

The weather remained dry and bright but not quite sunny throughout the day.

Most participants enjoyed a barbecue in the evening.


Summary

Saturday - Oxford city centre
Tandems: 13
Solos: 4
People: 30

Distance: 35-40 miles (this distance varied depending on what people did in Oxford)
Height Gain: 399 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 10.0 metres per mile (0.62%)
High Point: 152 metres
Low Point: 54 metres



Sunday:

On Sunday two rides were on offer. Travelling all in one group as far as Charlbury, passing through Stanton Harcourt and Sutton we bypassed all other villages and stopped at Charlbury for coffee at the Bell Inn.

Now a choice had to be made on the 55 mile route via Stow-on-the-Wold or the 29 mile route via Witney. Only 4 teams chose the long option cycling the fairly lumpy route via Chadlington, Churchill and Broadwell to Stow-on-the-Wold where they stopped at the White Hart for lunch.

The others, 7 tandems and 2 solos, took the shorter route to Witney via Crawley heading for Cogges Manor Farm Museum for lunch and a look around the museum. Cogges is a unique, working museum depicting Oxfordshire rural life in Victorian times set in an historic manor house and Cotswold stone farm buildings. Whilst we were there, it rained but had stopped in time for the short trip back to base.

The "long" riders returned later, having travelled via more lumps through Bledington and Burford, where they stopped for tea.

The weather, though warm, had been overcast all day and rained a little. The short riders avoided cycling in the rain but the long riders didn't!


Summary

Sunday - Charlbury (short option)
Tandems: 7
Solos: 2
People: 16

Distance: 29 miles
Height Gain: 395 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 13.6 metres per mile (0.85%)
High Point: 169 metres
Low Point: 64 metres

Sunday - Stow-on-the-Wold (long option)
Tandems: 4
Solos: 0
People: 8

Distance: 55 miles
Height Gain: 868 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 15.8 metres per mile (0.98%)
High Point: 234 metres
Low Point: 64 metres


Monday:

On Monday we also had two rides on offer and we were again able to ride together for the first part, this time as far as the lunch stop.

It was raining when we set off but forecasts were indicating that it would clear by 11:00… Most participants had had to clear up their tents and pack up their things prior to the start so it was a little later than on previous days, at 10:00 and we had an early coffee stop after just 5 miles at Aston Pottery.

Leaving Aston, we travelled west to Bampton for a ride around this pretty town and then headed south to Buckland. From there, continuing south then east, we passed through Charney Bassett and Garford. Our destination for lunch was Millets Farm Centre at Frilford and from Garford, we had found a track which enabled us to reach Millets without using the busy A338 road. Millets was very busy but still easily accommodated 21 cyclists and 11 associated friends who'd travelled there in cars.

Approaching Wantage
Approaching Wantage
photo: Tricia Anderson
Decision point had now been reached on whether to take the short easy way back to base or the much longer route via Wantage. Only 3 teams took the long option and were accompanied for the first few miles by Sunday's leader Dave with small son Leon on a seat on his cross bar. By now the sun had come out and this was by far the best weather hours of the weekend. So, while the short riders returned to base, the long riders had a brilliant sunny ride to Wantage with a stop there in The Bear for liquid refreshment.

Now we just had the 18 miles ride back to base. The sunny miles sped by and before long, we had passed through Grove, Charney Bassett, Kingston Bagpuize and Standlake and, the weekend was over…


Summary

Monday - Frilford (short option)
Tandems: 5
Solos: 3
People: 13

Distance: 28 miles
Height Gain: 206 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 7.4 metres per mile (0.46%)
High Point: 114 metres
Low Point: 58 metres

Monday - Wantage (long option)
Tandems: 3
Solos: 1 (contained 2 people)
People: 8

Distance: 47 miles
Height Gain: 377 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 8.0 metres per mile (0.50%)
High Point: 114 metres
Low Point: 58 metres


report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures


Thursday, 19th June - Sunday, 22nd June 2008

French Touring Weekend Event
Dover, Calais and beyond
start time: will be agreed by participants at the time
approx. ride distance: 40-50 miles per day
organized by: Alan & Wendy
telephone: 01621 818060
email:


French tandem tour route
The tour route -
starting in Calais, we travelled in a clockwise direction
Meeting at 07:25 on Thursday morning at Dover Eastern Docks and after crossing the Channel, we travelled in a clockwise direction from Calais, staying overnight at Wisques, Hesdin and Camiers.

Thursday 19th June:

Twenty people on ten tandems gathered at Dover East port early on a drizzly and very windy morning to catch the 08:25hrs ferry to Calais. Beware of the lorries! One team had a very lucky escape and after some skilful spoke realigning were able to continue. On arrival in Calais the rain had stopped. We made our way to Oye Plage for coffee and picnic lunch provisioning, which we ate in sunshine on the grass in front of the Mairie in Audricq. After a further coffee stop in Quercamps and a hill, we arrived at the very smart La Sapiniere Logis Hotel in Wisque, near St Omer where we were accommodated in wooden chalets. Rested and spruced up we met for drinks before an excellent dinner.

Friday 20th June:

A cloudy morning turned to sunshine and then a very light, short shower. A puncture immediately outside the hotel gates was our first delay. Later, travelling along rolling terrain with some of us having "rolled on" perhaps a little further than we should when the message was received that Phil's rim had "gone bang"! Back we all went to inspect and advise upon the situation. The repair of the front rim by cable tying the tyre to it was good enough for pushing along but not strong enough to be ridden; a local person provided the name and number of a nearby bike shop and a phone call ascertained that they had a 26" wheel available, so one team rode on to the nearby town of Therouanne to purchase the wheel and then rode back to meet the walking teams whilst the remainder had their coffee and had baguettes made up for a picnic lunch (the leaders had had to come up with a quick change of plan after losing so much time and it being obvious we weren't going to make it to St Pol in time for lunch). All repairs successfully done and all teams suitably refreshed, we all joined back up together at the picnic spot at Febvin-Palfart. Nice cycling along a high plain, though a little windy, and then down into the old town of St Pol for coffee before pushing on along the La Canche River valley to Les 3 Fontaines Logis at Marconne/Hesdin. Another very good dinner and, for some, perhaps a little too much alcohol refreshment!

Saturday 21st June:

Another cloudy morning but promising warmer weather to come. The warmth was soon found on the 2 mile long uphill out of Marconne! Coffee was found in the lovely old village of Douriez and then it was on to the ancient hilltop town of Montreuil where we split up to try out various restaurants for lunch. After lunch, we travelled up and down hills in the sunshine and lovely countryside to Frencq where the expected cafes were closed but we provided entertainment for the local children kicking a football around whilst we stopped for a rest. A long uphill around a beautiful "bowl" brought us up beside the A16 and to rest underneath a huge wind turbine gently "whooshing" round. Then a twisty downhill into Camiers, surprising a tandem couple struggling upwards on our side of the road! Les Cedres Logis was our stop for the night: despite tumbling off against a kerb on the entry into Camiers and causing a bloody elbow, one couple hadn't done enough miles and so rode to the seaside for ice creams. Pre-dinner drinks were enjoyed outside before a very good final dinner together.

Sunday 22nd June:

A sunny start to this very hilly day to get us back to Calais. At Samur we encountered their Fraise Fete just starting up so some strawberries were bought and shared out whilst we enjoyed our coffee overlooking the town square. Not too far on we stopped at Desvres where we were a little early for lunch but an enterprising restauranteur opened up early and welcomed us in: one team had chosen to ride ahead and picnic but the cooler, cloudy weather had put the rest of us off this option. Onwards with lots of ups and downs, collecting the other team on the way, where again a cafe owner opened up for us in Guines. On into Calais, in considerably windy conditions now, for an ice cream stop before making our way to the docks for our ferry. Several naps were taken on the ferry to try to recoup some of the energy we'd expended over the past four very enjoyable days.

Next year:

Alan and Wendy
Alan and Wendy - who organized the trip
photo: Neville Frost
Next year will be the 10th anniversary of Alan & Wendy leading our Region's continental adventure; they've said they'll do it again so we wonder where they'll take us in 2009!

report by: Tricia Anderson

click here for pictures

Summary in total
Tandems: 10
Solos: 0
People: 20

Distance: 168 miles (in 4 days)
Height Gain: 3981 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 23.7 metres per mile (1.47%)
High Point: 193 metres
Low Point: 0 metres


Summary by day

Day 1: Calais - Wisques
Distance: 35 miles
Height Gain: 712 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 20.3 metres per mile (1.26%)
High Point: 181 metres
Low Point: 0 metres

Day 2: Wisques - Hesdin
Distance: 48 miles
Height Gain: 1068 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 22.3 metres per mile (1.38%)
High Point: 193 metres
Low Point: 23 metres

Day 3: Hesdin - Camier
Distance: 42 miles
Height Gain: 1070 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 25.5 metres per mile (1.58%)
High Point: 157 metres
Low Point: 0 metres

Day 4: Camier - Calais
Distance: 43 miles
Height Gain: 1131 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 26.3 metres per mile (1.63%)
High Point: 149 metres
Low Point: 0 metres
French tandem tour profile
The tour profile -
starting in Calais, we stopped overnight at Wisques, Hesdin and Camier


Sunday, 27th July 2008

Chichester, West Sussex
start time: 09:15 for 09:30
approx. ride distance: 40 miles
organized by: Dereck & Gail
telephone: 01483 416131
email:


It was a beautifully sunny day. Five tandems and ten people left Ellscott Park Camp Site in Birdham near Chichester. We travelled in an easterly direction and then north easterly to Denmans Garden for coffee. Roads in this area, south of the Downs, tend to be quite busy and we were pleased to find the recently opened and very quiet Sustrans route between Siddlesham and South Mundham. It passes across fields containing cattle and at one point it seemed sensible to dismount and push through a small herd initially barring our way. The café/restaurant at Denmans Garden is second to none and we lingered there a while, in the shaded patio.

Continuing eastwards and maintaining the desire to keep to non busy roads, we used the track through Tortington Common - a minor challenge for those with skinny tyres but worth it… We passed though Arundel and then out onto the very busy A27 for half a mile in order to cross the River Arun and then we turned off to the north, taking the very quiet lane through Warningcamp and Burpham to North Stoke and so to our lunch stop at Amberley. We were joined here by four friends who had been unable to ride with us. The service was patchy but it was enjoyable sitting in the warm open air in sight of the River Arun as it flowed lazily by.

The afternoon route was in a westerly direction north of the Downs and took in the quiet lanes through Bury, Bignor and Sutton. Quiet, except for one car driver who got very impatient during an ascent in which she was forced to travel at 15mph and eventually resorted to shouting at us – clearly believing that cyclists have no right to travel on roads. The hard part of the day's ride was the ascent of the busy Duncton Hill. Try as we might in the planning, we had been unable to circumvent it. It wasn't long and we were soon over it and heading towards our tea stop at West Dean Gardens, which we reached via East Dean and Charlton.
Man-handling tandem through gate
Man-handling tandem through gate
photo: Tricia Anderson


After tea, taken under sunshades in the open air, we travelled south using the Centurian Way path to Chichester and then the Salterns Way path to Birdham. This final section, from West Dean, was predominantly downhill and was a breeze. There are a couple of gates on the Salterns Way, which have been built without consideration for tandemists. They are of the "kissing gate" variety and are not long enough for a tandem and so require the machine to be man-handled – not a new experience. At Chichester Marina we were delayed whilst we waited for the lock gates and were able to watch several yachts passing through.

Once back at our starting point, at Ellscott Park, we were treated to tea and cakes by Dereck and Gail who had joined us for lunch but had not ridden. We had travelled a total of 54 miles on probably the best weather day of the year so far.

report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures

Summary
Tandems: 5
Solos: 0
People: 10

Distance: 54 miles
Height Gain: 727 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 13.5 metres per mile (0.84%)
High Point: 152 metres
Low Point: 0 metres




Saturday, 3rd August 2008

family / easy ride
Crawley, West Sussex
start time: 09:45 for 10:00
approx. ride distance: 25 miles - easy
organized by: Frank & Pat
telephone: 01293 889126
email:


What a disappointing day for our ride after the recent good weather we'd been enjoying. Even so, 6 families gathered at Three Bridges station and set off hoping that the grey sky wouldn't produce too much rain!

Our leaders threaded us through the suburbs of Crawley to reach the quieter country lanes and then the rain fell; luckily we were immediately able to all shelter under some generous trees to don our rain jackets,
interestingly jammed chain
An interestingly jammed chain
photo: Tricia Anderson
by which time the rain had just about stopped - just as well for one couple as they hadn't brought any rain gear with them!

One team acquired a very interestingly jammed chain at one point which required a link to be removed in order to unscramble it. From then on changing between chain rings had to be done with great care.

We enjoyed a pleasant stop for coffee just before Newdigate at Tanhouse Farm and then continued through leafy lanes to the Duke's Head pub at Brockham. Luckily the pub was large enough to seat us inside, as the rain fell again whilst we were lunching.

Two families needed to be back home early in order to attend friends' barbecues, so a speedy pace was set to return us to Three Bridges.

report by: Tricia Anderson

click here for pictures

Summary
Tandems: 6
Solos: 1
People: 13

Distance: 29 miles
Height Gain: 470 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 16.2 metres per mile (1.01%)
High Point: 121 metres
Low Point: 47 metres




Sunday, 7th September 2008

family / easy ride
Oxted, Surrey
start time: 09:45 for 10:00
approx. ride distance: 25 miles
organized by: Robert & Hilary
telephone: 01883 722067
email:


This was a Family/Easy ride. Our 'leaders' were unable to take part but did an excellent job of working out a route for us including the stops.
Tandem at Haxted Mill
Watching the Water Wheel at Haxted Mill
photo: Tricia Anderson


Twelve people met at the start in Oxted mounted on six tandems. We headed in a southerly direction to Holland and then Haxted where we stopped at the ancient working watermill, dating back to 1794, for coffee and croissants.

Continuing in a southerly direction until the outskirts of Lingfield we then headed eastwards via Dormansland to the little twisty lane that leads eventually to Holtye and Cowden. This was our furthest point from the start and we now headed north towards Markbeech, where we stopped at the Kentish Horse for lunch. We got there at 12:15 and were the first customers – so had no trouble getting served or finding seats and the food was excellent!

After lunch and a brief photo opportunity outside the adjacent picturesque church, we were on our way again, heading towards home via Hever, How Green, Four Elms, Swaynesland and Gaywood. Such was our progress that we had to 'phone ahead to our Tea Stop (at our intended leaders' house) to warn that we were almost there... They were still putting finishing touches to the cake as we arrived! This was an outstanding performance from them, to accommodate 12 muddy cyclists in their home and provide us with tea and cakes, despite being unable to take part in the ride – many thanks.

The final leg was the seven miles back to the start point at Oxted.

The weather was looking like rain all day but, although the roads were wet (causing us to get mud spattered), we suffered no downpour and in fact had a very pleasant day in the saddle.

report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures

Summary
Tandems: 6
Solos: 0
People: 12

Distance: 30 miles
Height Gain: 560 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 18.7 metres per mile (1.01%)
High Point: 144 metres
Low Point: 38 metres




Sunday, 28th September 2008

Orpington, Kent
start time: 09:15 for 09:30
approx. ride distance: 40 miles
organized by: Andy & Ruth
telephone: home: 01689 878089
email:

For lunch, we are planning to visit Great Comp Garden at Platt near Borough Green for which there is a entrance fee. Ruth says, "It's a really beautiful garden". We'll stop there long enough to warrant the entrance fee.


Coffee break at The Shoreham Aircraft Museum
Coffee break at The Shoreham Aircraft Museum
photo: Tricia Anderson
It was a little bit cool and misty at the start of the day but it turned into a fabulous blue-sky, sunny and warm day for our ride from Orpington to Great Comp Garden at Platt in Kent. Eleven of us set off on what was to be our hilliest ride so far this year; up and down a few hills to warm us up before an early coffee stop at the quaint Shoreham Aircraft Museum where it was warm enough for us to sit outside in the sun beside the tinkling water feature.

We travelled through the remainder of Shoreham to reach the delightful Water Lane which took us over a very narrow little bridge beside the rather slippery looking and rocky ford across the River Darent (young Christopher was very disappointed that he and his Dad didn't ride through it!), then up a slight hill then across the A225 to start some of the more serious climbing of the day. Several more downs and ups along beautiful, quiet lanes lined with trees just showing their autumn colours and, after passing through the unexpectedly busy Ightham, we finally reached Great Comp Garden.

It was decided to pay the admission fee as we all wanted to look around the garden after our lunch to be enjoyed in the patio area of the Old Dairy Tearoom. This seven acre private garden really is kept in beautiful condition with well manicured lawns, a large variety of flowers in the herbaceous beds (salvias being a speciality of the curator) and lots of little paths winding around leading you to the artfully constructed "follies" dotted around amongst the bushes and trees.

We all enjoyed our wandering explorations before gathering to tackle yet more hills with the "dreaded" Vigo Hill being the first and worst one we were to encounter. I wonder whether climbing Vigo Hill is the real price of visiting Great Comp Garden, as Kent Region ride leaders had taken us just for coffee to this garden back in July and then made us climb Vigo Hill just for the hell of it as we immediately came back down again! After several more rises and descents and a failed attempt to freewheel all the way down Knatts Valley to Farnborough, we reached our first tea stop at Lullingstone Visitor Centre to get our "cake energy fix" before climbing the last two big hills of the day and getting back to our leaders' house for our reward of tea and some delicious port and chocolate cake.

report by: Tricia Anderson

click here for pictures

Summary
Tandems: 5
Solos: 1
People: 11

Distance: 39 miles
Height Gain: 1042 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 26.7 metres per mile (1.66%)
High Point: 224 metres
Low Point: 34 metres




Sunday, 5th October 2008

family / easy ride
Oad Street, Sittingbourne, Kent
start time: 09:45 for 10:00
approx. ride distance: 25 miles
organized by: John & Sue
telephone: 020 8855 1693
email:


Today's ride was WET! Eighteen brave souls (including 5 children) turned up at the start and lingered for quite a while in the Oad Street Craft Centre restaurant – sort of hoping that the rain would stop but knowing in their hearts that it would not.

It didn't stop raining and we set off in a broadly southerly and easterly direction passing through Swanton Street, Doddington and Newnham. With Liz's help on the navigation front, we avoided most of the hills to Painter's Forstal. Unfortunately all the navigation skills in the world were not beneficial in helping to avoid punctures – and we had a few – five in all and one of those had to be repaired a second time as the torrential rain made it hard to get the repair patch to stick.

We arrived at the lunch stop in several groups as it seemed unfair to make everyone wait in the rain for every puncture. The Alma pub staff treated us very well and was not fazed by so many dripping people. Lunch was a leisurely affair with the children even enjoying the pub's climbing frame in the rain. The downpour had eased a bit by the time we left.

We headed north and then west passing through Teynham, Bapchild, Rodmersham and Tunstall and, thanks, partly to the lighter rain-fall, we had no punctures on the return journey.

Final tea and cake stop at the Oad Street Craft Centre
Final tea and cake stop at the Oad Street Craft Centre
photo: Neville Frost
Oad Street is in quite a hilly area and it was remarkable how few hills we actually had to climb. There were some, of course, but heh; we needed something to take our minds off the rain! Despite everything, we all seemed to be smiling as we stopped for a second time in the Oad Street Craft Centre restaurant for tea and cakes at the end of the ride and agreed that the ride had been good fun – honest.

report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures

Summary
Tandems: 5
Triplets: 1
Solos: 3
People: 18

Distance: 29 miles
Height Gain: 475 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 16.5 metres per mile (1.03%)
High Point: 194 metres
Low Point: 3 metres




Sunday, 26th October 2008
British Summer Time ends today (fall back 1 hour)

Lamberhurst, Kent
start time: 09:45 for 10:00
approx. ride distance: 40 miles
organized by: Ken & Liz
telephone: 01323 735620
email:


This was another wet ride! Despite that, seven tandems with fourteen people took part and one team was riding with us for the first time – very brave.

We started in Lamberhurst and headed northwards. This meant that the first part of the ride was quite hilly until we reached the outskirts of Paddock Wood which we kept away to our left. Soon after Laddingford we turned off along a rarely used road and we thought we were going off-road but no, it lead us to a clever place to cross the busy A228 dual carriageway without the need to cycle along it. Then we were in East Peckham where we stopped for a coffee break, after about eleven miles of cycling, at Brookside Garden Centre.

We were, by now, almost at the most northerly point of the ride and now we had about ten miles of flattish terrain in a south easterly direction to lunch. There was lots of activity on the river at Yalding with canoists taking part in a slalom event and we gave them a passing look! Travelling through Benover and Collier Street, we were soon at Marden where we stopped at The Unicorn and had an excellent lunch.

Our leaders in Bedgebury Forest
Our leaders in Bedgebury Forest
photo: Neville Frost
The rain had abated between coffee and lunch but it was at it again by the time we were ready to leave… The respite from hills was over and now, travelling southwards, it was nothing but hills and rain all the way to Bedgebury Forest – oh! and also a puncture. Cycling through the forest was fun and we now got muddy as well as wet. We stopped here for tea and soon realized that our mud was nothing like the mud of some people who had been cycling in the forest seemingly with the express purpose of covering themselves in mud from head to foot. The café here is rudimentary but they had some very tasty cake!

And so to the final hilly leg back to the start via Bedgebury Cross and Kilndown. It was mostly uneventful but as we entered the car park at the end, there was a loud bang as our second puncture occurred – what good timing!

report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures

Summary
Tandems: 7
Solos: 0
People: 14

Distance: 37 miles
Height Gain: 642 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 17.4 metres per mile (1.08%)
High Point: 131 metres
Low Point: 9 metres




Sunday, 23rd November 2008

Orpington, Kent
start time: 09:45 for 10:00
approx. ride distance: 35 miles
organized by: David & Annabelle
telephone: 01689 835673
email:
Coffee will be served at the start, then out through Chipstead to Hever via Penshurst for lunch in the Greyhound. Then back to Orpington for tea via that good old favourite Ide Hill.


The forecast snow fell but stopped before the ride start from Orpington. After some much appreciated warming coffee at our leader’s home, 12 of us set off on this very cold and cloudy day. Our leader, David, was on his solo as Annabelle was suffering from a chest infection and lost voice (David said there was no way she’d have come out into the snow anyway!).

Because of the inclement weather, our leader reversed the planned route. There was snow in evidence on the sides of the roads and the rain caught up with us near the top of the North Downs (or was it just that we were actually in the very very low, wet cloud!) and we made our rather cautious way down Star Hill.
Jake takes a ride on Ken's tandem
After his tumble, Jake takes a ride on Ken's tandem
with apologies for the poor quality of the photo

Taking photos today was difficult due to the rain, cold,
gloves that were wet and too bulky and a generally steamed up camera
photo: Tricia Anderson
The only puncture of the day was spotted whilst approaching Chipstead as we were going over the bridge which crosses the multiple motorways of the M25 and M26 and also the A21. The tyre was pumped up in hope but the puncture had to be fixed a few miles further on amongst the very posh houses in Bessels Green but there was no shelter from the rain. We re-grouped at the top of Ide Hill – the rain had stopped and the view was fantastic over Bough Beech Reservoir. After a good whiz down Ide Hill, we were nearing our lunch destination at Hever when young Jake threw himself off his bike and onto the road! He’d hit a gutter dividing a lay-by from the road and probably has a prettily coloured thigh by now! After a bit of leg rubbing, commiserating and cajoling he was persuaded onto the back of Ken’s tandem with Liz gallantly riding the mudguard-less solo (and getting a muddy face when going through a big puddle!) to the pub.

The Greyhound looked after us really well, even providing towels with which to dry ourselves and allowing us to spread our very soggy gloves, scarves, etc around their gaily burning wood fire. The food came out in double quick time and was soon devoured; Jake had even recovered enough to manage a large Spotted Dick pud as well as his roast.

The sun had come out a short while before lunch and obligingly was still shining when we came out of the pub so Jake reluctantly mounted his solo again (he seemed to rather like it on Ken’s tandem!) and Mark manfully pushed him with one arm from the back of his tandem up the first hill. We travelled up and down through Penshurst and a few flattish lanes in the sunshine before the cruel Hubbard’s Hill wore us all out. Then we went down into Riverhead and on to Dunton Green and then, negotiating the pipeworks at the bottom, up Old Polhill before diving down to the very busy roundabout where the A21 exits from the M25, over into Chelsfield and back to our leader’s house – where Jake managed to throw himself off his bike yet again by pulling up his brakes too sharply!

Indoors he recovered very quickly this time and enjoyed the warmed and buttered hot cross bun and delicious cakes Annabelle provided for us all. We’d just beaten a heavy burst of rain, though unfortunately Mark & Liz and Dave got wet whilst loading their tandems onto their cars. Both young Christopher and Jake did exceptionally well on this very hard ride on a very cold day but our leader’s warm house and delicious tea and cakes made us forget quite how hard it had been.

report by: Tricia Anderson

click here for pictures

Summary
Tandems: 5
Solos: 2
People: 12

Distance: 40 miles
Height Gain: 1011 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 25.3 metres per mile (1.57%)
High Point: 216 metres
Low Point: 28 metres




Sunday, 7th December 2008

Woodlands, West Kingsdown, Kent
Christmas ride and Lunch - Woodlands Manor Golf Club, Woodlands, West Kingsdown, Kent.
start time: ride - 09:45 for 10:00; lunch - 12:45 for 13:00
approx. ride distance: 15 miles
organized by: Neville & Tricia
telephone: 020 8325 8445
email:


A cold & frosty morning
A cold & frosty morning
photo: Tricia Anderson
Today was very cold with a heavy frost. It was below freezing at dawn and barely rose above that all day. Cycling would therefore require great care. Despite this, ten bikes with a total of 21 people on board started off on the steep ascent immediately after the start. This steep start in the extreme cold was too much for one team, who turned back.

The organizers were very concerned about the slipperiness of the roads and decided to shorten the route. The final ascent to the coffee stop was interesting as everyone was getting wheel spin and many people decided that walking was safer than cycling up the hill.

Coffee at Speed Gate provided a pleasant and warm respite from the cold in the busy cyclist friendly café.

We were joined for the return trip by Ken & Liz who had spent the night at Speed Gate in their motor home so numbers were now back to 10 machines. The return to Woodlands Golf Club was also shorter than originally intended but meant that we got back in good time to shower and change for lunch and without mishap.

Forty people attended the annual Christmas Lunch, including several folk that we had not seen out cycling for some time (though they were, of course, very welcome) and it seemed to be enjoyed by everyone.

Finally, we presented the 'John Steggles' trophy to the tandem team who had attended the most South East London rides throughout the year. Despite attempts to break ties by docking points for attending rides without a tandem (on a half bike) and for not making it to the finish, we had a tie between last year's winners David, Caroline & son Christopher and, relatively new members of our group, Kevin and Jan.

Thanks for everyone's support.

report by: Neville Frost

click here for pictures

Ride Summary
Tandems: 9
Solos: 1
People: 21

Distance: 11 miles
Height Gain: 267 metres
Climb/Distance Index: 24.3 metres per mile (1.51%)
High Point: 216 metres
Low Point: 89 metres




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