Probably the best nights sleep of the whole tour night was had by all. More to do with how much work we had put in rather than plushness of the hotel. Functional would be more descriptive.
With a quick look at the route a collective decision was made to stick to the route for which we diligently and carefully prepared before we left.
It was possibly not the best decesion we made as we went through ploughed fields and had to strip off all the baggage on the bikes to get them over railway lines; not the easiest of tasks.
Then we hit the urban sprawl on the Essex side of the Thames and cycled through little used cycle tracks then on to the banks of the Thames. It was pretty disappointing really as the cycle path was in a bad state of repair with steep steps and locked gates which meant manhandling the bikes again.
We got past Tilbury Fort and then finally got to the Tilbury ferry pontoon. After a bit of lunch waiting for the ferry we got a cheery welcome aboard but had some difficulty getting all the bikes on. It was all sorted and within 10 minutes we were back in Kent; it may be the Kentish-Men side but the Men-of-Kent are on our way.
From Gravesend we followed the old Medway – Thames canal (never knew it was there!). However it made for a nice ride straight to Strood. We all regrouped to go through the Medway tunnel. It’s not great riding but it does cut out the stop/start riding going through the Medway towns.
We were quickly through the tunnel and on way out of the busy towns, mindful that now it’s the Man-of-Kent side. Two rivers to cross now. We stopped for a beer at the Happy Mariner in Lower Tydall and then set off again through the apple orchards of rural Kent.
Mark had a little issue with his bottle holder and then we pushed on skirting Sittingbourne as much as possible. Then it was on to Faversham as we kept off the A2 until the Brindley corner. From here we quick spurted around and down the hill to Boughto and then on to Canterbury looking good as we all kept in a peleton around the ring road. Then up to Bridge for a final pint and a debrief.
Everyone felt good if not a bit tired. We had a few little niggles but nothing us ‘Athletes’ can’t handle. Then we left going on our separate ways home to various corners of East Kent.
Another tour finished. It was somewhat different from other tours but nevertheless it was excellent riding and ‘guys, a pleasure and privilege to ride with you’.
Until next time, your calm collective tour captain, Dale