Saturday, February 13, 2010

It's hardly surprising to any who knows me that I did not get out of bed early enough to follow up on my AtZomancy experiment. But it still stands there as a challenge for me - maybe when the weather's a little better.

instead, today, I got up around 10.30, immersed myself in the Independent, drank a huge quantity of coffee, and slowly, mentally prepared myself for venturing out into the cold wet outside world for a long cycle ride.

Set off at noon, and headed straight towards Dartford, along the old Roman road (Watling Street), nice and staright as you would expect. After a few miles, had sufficiently warmed up that I was feeling very positive. Straight through Crayford, then Dartford, then diverted from the main road, up towards Temple Hill, then a right turn, a left turn, down a little residential dead end street with a pedstrian bridge which takes you over the M25, with stunning views of the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, and into a little countrified bit of North Kent which includes Greenhithe .

It isn't long before you're back onto the main road, a particularly ugly, dirty, and heavily used road which takes you between industrial yards, factories, car parks, railway yards and a non-league football ground in Northfleet.

This road, though fairly straight, is quite hilly, and I was constantly going from cruising down a hill to clicking back to a low gear to get up the next hill. I'm pleased to say I made every hill, a vast improvement from my performance a year ago.

I reached Gravesend and kept going. I did not attempt to follow the extremely poorly maintained (to the point of taking the piss) Sustrans route - Route 1 - instead stayed on the main road all the way to Rochester. Fantastic views across Hoo peninsula and the Thames Estuary. there was a huge cargo ship making its way upstream while I watched.

The weather deteriorated enormously in the next couple of hours. I made my way to chatham war memorial. A near replica exists in my birth city of Plymouth. In fact I felt strangely displaced, as if I was flitting between Kent and Plymouth as I moved around chatham.

I explored the war memorial, ate my packed lunch (care of Morrisson's marking down policy) and as rain threatened made my way down to the Chatham docks area. At this point I discovered that my salad had leaked and flooded the contents of my bag. I survived. My phone didn't.

Suddenly I was cold. A load of kids on mountain bikes turned up and were trying out tricks as I set off back towards home. I was fully prepared to bail out at any point when the rain and the cold became unbearable, but once in the stride managed to keep going all the way.

At home I checked my milage - about 48 miles. The longest ride of the year so far. Dunwich Dynamo beckons in less than 6 months and I'm well on the way to meeting that challenge.

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