Forest Row Bike Club
Rye to Dungeness: 1 July
The Windy Ride
Seven of us set off optimistically for faraway Rye. For some the journey was unremarkable and direct. For others it was not because of a combination of closed roads and consequential diversions and the hundreds of cyclists who were completing the pre-Tour ride along the Tour first stage. There were miles and miles and miles of cyclists. (Just two women entrants were spotted.) Meanwhile, coming in the opposite direction were Vespas, Vespas, and Vespas. Not an unremarkable journey.
From Rye we set off for Dungeness, taking a few minutes to say ‘Hello’ to Steve and to Zoe who were having a day in Rye. We cycled along the dedicated path and along the road, under a benign blue sky. We were warm we were dry, we were far from rain and from hills. But we were close to the wind.
After Lydd, the road to Dungeness, about four miles, is exposed. Gentle cyclists have to work if they are to reach the café close to the power station. So the six of us – ah, yes, one of us John was occupied with some business in Rye – pushed the pedals. We reached that last stretch where the boats, the Lifeboat station, and the sea are to the left, and the wooden, single-storey houses are to the right. Still, we worked our way against the wind to the café which lies alongside the terminus of the railway.
However, before we reach the terminus, let’s give a little more time to those single-storey houses. One of them is The Smokery, a plave where the owner smokes fish, meat, cheese, anything. The smoker, if that’s the name, has been there since the 1950s. The house, meanwhile, has been there since the 1690s. Behind the house is a garden, a lush one. After all, remember, it’s been tilled for 300 years. At first, the owner rented, then he bought the house for a few thousands. Now, there’s a house on the market for about £800k. (Yes, that’s right.)
The café hasn’t changed. It remains a haven after the wind. Cod, peas, and (big) chips remain the popular choice. It was the place where John joined us at last. With John we cycled from the café easily and noisily with the wind behind us. Having joined us, John left us, as we turned to cycle along the sea-front, where Kate used to spend summer holidays. It was steady, middle-aged, after-lunch cycling, laced, of course, with Andrew’s colt-like sprints to New Romney, where Graham fixed his second puncture and where we admired the railways station, and where we found that the preferred back-road was closed. So we cycled along a traffic-friendly road to Breznett in order to return to quiet lanes.
The quiet lanes did not remain quiet and peaceful for long. Along with the downpour another puncture slowed the progress. Gordon’s tyre levers came out for use, but your reporter’s tyre resisted strongly. Three cycled off to find the military canal, leaving three to get on with the repair. They didn’t find the canal, but they returned to Rye by another route
For the repair party, Graham, Gordon, and your reporter, the six-mile ride alongside the military canal from Appledore to Rye was a steady, unremitting push along a flat road against the wind. Earlier in the day, Graham had spoken about a ride where he had found it easier to ride up a hill, sheltered from the wind, than along a flat stretch which was exposed. That experience was all the easier to understand as we kept our heads down. The only way to cycle against the wind is to get on with it. A sunny ride, a rainy one for a while, but a windy one.
If you took part in a ride, why not write a report? The more florid the language, the more inflated the hyperbole, the more tumescent the innuendo, the greater your chance of winning the FRBC Prize for Original Plagiarism.
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