YAL’s Ride Report
Another great year. I really enjoyed the riders and the route. The last minute change from Maidstone to Bromley South worked out well for everyone – including me living out here in The Regions.
It was a milder year weather-wise but I’m sure some of the regulars were fine with lot less rain and a few extra degrees than previous editions. Kingdom as a café stop was certainly a step in a classier direction (for better and worse) than the H Café, but for all their posh coffee and insta friendly presentation they knocked out lunch for 14 people in about 20 mins which I hugely appreciated. I’m all about no-faff stops and minimising any shenanigans and games of roadside grab-ass. @clubman your café recommendation is noted for next year.
The group was quite a mix of strength and experience but I was very happy to see everyone make it around save for @jaeyukdapbap, one of the four riders who simultaneously went down on an oil slick, who listened to his impacted leg and wisely said ‘I’ll take the train at Borough Green’ and Rob who joined him for support.
I think I would have liked the group to stay together more and ride a bit more tightly through the lanes but that is down to me – I should have said so at the beginning and communicated more directly on the road. Consequently I think quite a few of us spent more time in the wind than we needed to as the group compressed and extended like an accordion through the Weald. So I’ll say as much next year. But everyone did a good job counting heads and looking after one another so a big cheers for that.
A huge thanks to @pastry_bot for the route. While I’m familiar with a large number of the roads his experience and knowledge was invaluable in linking them up, and made a lot of wise connections that gave us great views, woodland, fields and climbing but without unnecessary punishment. It was beautiful, bleak, challenging and gritty. Oli is the lanes, and a true don of the cog. He was again (for I think the 3rd year) nearly the Most Meretorious Rider for a number of reasons. I’m sure by next year he’ll be in line for the HDIJ Lifetime Achievement Award.
Someone else who deserves a mention is @TTM who’s strength is on another level from the rest of us, but paced himself evenly (if strongly!) on the front and could have easily towed us all the way around significantly faster. So Tom your steady patience and strength were a huge (if under-utilised) benefit. The reason that he has action photos of us is that he was at the top of every climb before everyone else so had time to take pictures.
Other than that @clubman has already nicely summed up the need to tidy up the group riding and Lucy’s deserving award of the Most Meretorious Rider. It was great to have her along and being her longest ride fixed and working through a bit of adversity made it straightforward to award it to her.
Thanks again to everyone for making it a good and hard day out.