It is only fierce rivalry between factions that is going to stop cycling groups like ours from becoming defunct ones like the London Cycling Club, the Cranky Cyclists Club and the Orpington Pedal Pushers. So we are not too disheartened by the fact that only 6 people came on this ride, when we used to get 20 a couple of years ago, before Spokes - London Cycling broke away to form a separate group.
The 6 who met up at Cutty Sark Gardens do this 50 mile Barry Mason ride to the London Stone at Yantlet Creek included two who had done this year's Dunwich Dynamo. Our ride was one that that we had read about on the internet at https://thebikeshow.net/london-stone/. After having to abandon a previous attempt to do this ride because of bad weather and having to curtail some other rides for the same reason, it was great to find that the weather was ideal for cycling on this occasion.
At Cutty Sark, we asked a bystander to take a group photo and he hold us that we were meeting at the stating point of a world record-breaking cruise that was about to be undertaken by the Viking Sun ship that was moored there: https://news.sky.com/story/the-viking-sun-record-setting-cruise-voyage-t.... We noted that the cruise was just like the ride were were about to do: "the most extensive itinerary available in the industry, nearly double the length of our previous itineraries,"
We took a direct route to get to Gravesend going over Shooter's Hill. We did have one problem when the one-way system in Dartford deposited us near the Station in the middle of a busy road, with streams of fast-moving traffic either side of us, but the experienced riders on this ride coped well and made it to the safety of the bus lane.
At Gravesend we stopped off for ice creams at the sea front cafe and then ventured into the Hoo Peninsula along National Cycle Route 1. It was rather gravelly, so crossed a railway line to turn off it and continued along normal roads to Higham. We stopped off to look at Cooling Castle. As bits had fallen off it recently, we though might be a fake, but we did see posters in St James Church telling us that this was a genuine 14th Century fortification. We also had a look at St James Church with the mulit-children grave that had inspired Dickens to write Great Expectations.
We had lunch at the Cooling pub and the continued to Allhallows, where we walked out to the sea front to take a look at the London Stone at Yantlet Creek. Beth pointed out that, when it comes to monuments, size matters and the London Stone was indeed somewhat underwhelming. However, Cooling Castle had been quite impressive and there would be nothing to stop us from rebranding our ride as a Cooling Castle one.
On our way back, we tried to keep to a northerly route, as some people wanted to cycle back to London. This did mean we ended up on very busy roads, one of which made it almost almost impossible for us to go straight ahead at a roundabout, because there was a slip road had very fast traffic going round round blind corner onto a motorway style road. However, there wa a break in the traffic and we did managed to cross the road.
There was one puncture at the end of the ride, but we decided to walk to Rochester station rather than waiting for it to be repaired.