So on Sunday Doctors Matt and Doug decided to ride out to Whitstable, on the Kent coast and known for oysters, there to join "Friends of the TroisV" Emily, Katie and special U.S.American guest Judi for a swim and some beer and some food. Matt researched the route; Doug did nothing in preparation.
Anyway, we set off from the Midway Meeting Point (Pratt Street) at about 7 a.m. and barreled past TroisV HQ, saddened to know that Jon and the mascot were not there (or so Jon claimed; has anybody ever heard of a place called "Devon"? He missed out on a midweek hills ride to something called a "Glasgow". The London streets are pretty empty at that time on a Sunday morning, so it wasn't too long before we were over London Bridge and pacing past the Royal Naval College and Greenwich Park, where horses will jump over hurdles during the 2012 Olympics. Somewhere between these points Matt remembered to turn on the cyclemeter so we'd have a boatload (get it? Naval College? Boatload? Anyone...? Try the veal!) of stats.
We were delighted to discover that not only does Thamesmead actually exist, but there's an East Thamesmead, a North Thamesmean, a South Thamesmead and also a West Thamesmead, and that each of these Thamesmeads, along with Dartford, is ludicrously well-signed from the A-roads. There are also lots of bike lanes along the A-roads out there, though I imagine that during rush hour they don't make things any more pleasant on the commuting cyclist.
So but anyway, we made a few minor wrong turns, one of which was caused by our naive (and really, insanely stupid, based on previous experience with NCR 4) faith in National Cycle Route 1, which led us to a dead end behind a supermarket that smelled of bread. We wasted little time in correcting our route (if memory serves, this happened in the also well-signed town of Erith) and cranking along our merry way. And good thing too, because what I've yet to mention is that this ride was a race, and we had only a few hours from our departure time before the Southeastern HS1 train, like the HTC Highroad train, would organize itself and take up the chase. We wanted to arrive in Whitstable before our ladyfriends.
Onwards! There were a few hills along the way, including the wonderfully named Knee Hill, our first climb of the day, and a climb, Matt later confessed, would have been avoided had we not diverted from our route out of London towards Kent earlier on. Whatever! We climbed like champions!
In Rochester we saw a submarine, and somewhere before then we saw a Hindu temple of some kind. We got a little baffled in the area of Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham, which kind of blended together in a mass of A-road. From Rainham we diverted along a winding B-road, which was a lot of fun and on which we saw a lot of other riders (all going the other way). We began to "do the math" on our approximate position and how long we'd been riding and started to realize that we had a decent chance of arriving before the 12:38 train, as long as we kept up our pace, which we thought was pretty good, and didn't get too lost, which is always a possibility with the navigationally challenged TroisV.
When we hit Faversham we realized that barring accident or a series of punctures, we were going to finish way ahead of the train. We felt giddy. We decided to push hard anyway, just to see how well we could do. We still hadn't seen any signs actually pointing to Whitstable. But then we did! The B2040 to Whitstable! Let's follow it! And follow it we did. Though we followed it a little too far, because we weren't supposed to follow it as it turned into an A-road. So after an unnecessary climb we turned around and coasted back along our path, turning up Head Hill and cycling on to Goodnestone, to Graveney, and at a T-intersection, a sign pointing to Whitstable, 5 miles (8 kilometers in TroisV distance) away. We cranked up the pace--or as some of you might prefer, "put down the hammer"-- and traded the responsibility of taking the lead, watching the sea, pedaling hard, keeping our speed up around 40 kph for the final push to the sea, then along it and into Whitstable. We toodled down the high street, stopped to buy some snacks and drinks, then found a picnic bench with a view of the sea and a pub that serves pints of the local ale.
The train was--or those who were supposed to take it were--more disorganized that of HTC Highroad, and so we had over an hour before we trundled up the road and waited on the platform for not the 12:38, but the 13:08 arrival at Whitstable:
The rest of the day was spent swimming, drinking more beer, and eating ridiculous amounts of food before catching the train back to London. Here's a photo, taken after swimming and beer and food:
Here are the stats from Matt's cyclemeter. He started it late, so it's a little off (my on-bike computer said 124.55 km and average speed 27.2 kph) but not too much. Also, I don't believe the top speed for a second; I'm blaming GPS interference for that one:
Finished Cycle: 10 Jul 2011 11:46:55
Route: The Whit's Table
Google Maps URL:
Shortened Google Maps URL: http://j.mp/orE3dQ
Import URL: http://share.abvio.com/0538/b03a/4d4b/5253/Cyclemeter-Cycle-20110710-0700.kml
Ride Time: 4:13:09
Stopped Time: 33:11
Distance: 108.59 km
Average: 25.74 km/h
Fastest Speed: 79.34 km/h
Ascent: 173 meters