With the forecast being sunny but windy I chose another familiar route. The wind was west/south westerly and with only one proper hill I decided to take it easy on the way out with the wind helping me and even easier on the way back. The destination was Folkestone.
The route out to Folkestone is flat and open so is often windy and exposed. There's not many places for shelter along the way. The temperature was to be quite warm for early March so I wore arm warmers and a gilet along with my new Buff.
The first 15 miles or so to Hastings was uneventful. This is where the only hill of the ride is. The hill to get out of Hastings is easier than the return, coming over the other side. The legs felt good and I was soon at the top. I stopped for a wee at Hastings Country Park and then it's straight into a fast descent into Fairlight before a lovely fast flat along Pett Level.
|I spotted this stately home at the top of Battery Hill. Never noticed it before.|
There's lots of little country lanes that are part of the National Cycle Network so you can stay away from the traffic. Most little villages look the same along the way and it's difficult to know how far you've got to go without looking at your bike computer.
It wasn't long and I arrived at Hythe and stopped at the cafe next to the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway station. It's an old fashioned cafe that is a regular for local cyclists.
Having hit 50 miles I pondered for a moment about continuing to Folkestone. The roads get quite a bit busier from here and with the weather being so good I was worried I'd jut get frustrated with the traffic. I thought while my legs were good, I'd start to head back.
About 5 miles into the return leg I got a puncture! Never mind though, I'd fix it and soon be on my way. A few moments after I began riding again my left knee started hurting. It'd hurt on the other two centuries but I thought by keeping the riding gentle I might be able to stop the knee from hurting. Every pedal stoke into the wind hurt. It was like a twinge. I tried selecting a lower gear to keep the cadence up and the pressure down but that only helped a little and made my pace very slow.
All I could do is persevere. I used the scenery to take my mind off it. The downside with the flat geography is that there is no natural rest time for down hill sections. Instead it was constant pedalling.
As I headed toward Lydd there was a half marathon being held on the same roads I was riding so I was slowly over taking a number of runners. When I got to the centre of the village I stopped at a shop to buy chocolate. I thought this might perk me up. It did briefly. Each time I stopped for a few minutes the pain would subside momentarily when I got back on the bike.
Just after leaving Lydd my backside was now hurting. It was a little sore so I had another distraction from the knee. I wasn't sure which was better! As I pushed through the desolate Jury's Gap and headed for Camber I wanted it to end. However, I remembered the farm shop in East Guldeford and how good their coffee was. I'd considered stopping there earlier in the morning but I passed through about 30 mins before they opened. After a decent stop I was back on the road again.
As I headed back through Rye I had a decision to make. Do I go back through Pett Level and up the infamous Battery Hill or do I take the back route through Winchelsea and into Pett? I decided to take the latter as I'd not done it for 18 months. I also thought it was less hilly. OK, so it wasn't but it was worth it as the hills were short and took the pain away from the knee as I was standing up to do them.
The climb to Ore was a slow and painful one but the finish was in sight. It was all down hill or flat from now on. Old London Road into Hastings is a fast one but can be busy. There's a speed camera at the bottom of the hill and I've always wanted to set it off. I thought I'd wait for there to be a gap in the traffic and give it a go. The wait seemed like forever. I set off and started building up speed. I got to about 37mph but with the speed camera up ahead the car in front decided to slow down and stop to turn right, totally scuppering my plans! Never mind, there's always next time.
The ride along Hastings seafront was slow as was Bexhill and Cooden. By the time I got to Westham, the level crossing gates were down so I made a longer stop than normal and sat on a wall for several minutes. The last couple miles home were at a respectable pace. Wanting to get home gives you something extra.
I finished the ride in just over 10 hours with just short of 8 hours riding time. Not a fast ride by any means but I've ticked the box for March. I need to work out what is causing my knee to hurt into the ride.