Martin Malins writes…
Another classic and enjoyable day out courtesy of “fixedwheelnut” Steve Airey and his willing band of West Kent CTC DA helpers; many thanks to you all including Rob Bullyment the contoller who normally mans the Underriver control opposite the pub but today forewent beer in favour of not having to ride back up One Tree Hill afterwards!
The cleverly devised ride with 1700 meters of climbing consists of a 50km loop around Sevenoaks starting in and finishing in Otford before returning back in the opposite direction; alternating which loop is ridden first each every year (there is also a 50km version which just does the outward loop)
The easier way back round this year was not helped by not one but two punctures before the Underriver control which we spent all day trying to make up from (many thanks Ben and Stef for coming back for me). One Tree and Yorks Hills passed without major cardiac incident. Met the returning field (most of it) on the way back to Riverhead before back to Otford for some nice rolls. Ben and Stef are going for the Fred Whitton in May; shame there aren’t any more similar local rides in the Audax calendar until May as they make perfect training.
Being a ride of 2 halves the hills are of a completely different character in each direction; with Rowdow, Exedown Hill (on lanes) One Tree Hill Hubbards Hill and Yorks Hill comprising the punishing steep first circuit and the more benign Bayleys Hill, River Hill, Ivy Hatch and finally Exedown on the return, There are also many other little lumps thrown in for free on both circuits!
Since having got a 26T rear gear I’ve made it a personal goal to get round the anticlockwise loop without the small ring on the triple; this was not helped this year by going from 39×26 on the old bike to 42×25 on the new but I made it up Exedown Hill without wussing out. Just to rub it in it starting raining heavily at about 8k to go at the exact spot I suffered my first puncture (I would have missed the rain otherwise) apart from that we enjoyed pretty favourable (but chilly in the wind) weather all day.