28 August, 49 Miles
“Bev and I are at the Crown if you are
looking for food, drink and Bianchi talk.” Well that was an offer that I couldn’t
refuse! Bev and Chris are two members of the BOCUK (Bianchi Owners Club UK)
that I belong to. Until now we’ve only met virtually, through social media
conversations. But already I feel that I know them quite well. So the chance to
meet them for real was an added bonus.
This all came about because there was a
BOCUK ride in East Kent the following day and I had decided that it would be
better to stay over locally the night before rather than get up at stupid o’clock
and thrash down the M11 and M2. A wise move as it turned out because the nearby
M20 was closed after a lorry had somehow managed to demolish a footbridge over
the motorway. Anyway, I can report that the food was good (I had some tasty
ribs), the beer was great (a local brew) and the Bianchi talk was outstanding.
And for those readers who don’t quite get the Bianchi thing we did talk about other
stuff as well.
Fast forward a few hours. It’s 8:30 the
following morning in the car park of the Premier Inn at Ramsgate. Now Premier
Inn car parks look pretty much the same everywhere – especially earlyish on a
Sunday morning. One word best describes them – grey. Well, here in Ramsgate
something was happening. Rather like a chameleon, a transformation was taking
place. Small isolated specks began to appear and coalesce into a rich sea of
colour. And not just any colour but the richest colour of them all – celeste.
By 9:00 two dozen of us were ready to set off on a route round East Kent. For
me this was a first as, apart from passing through Dover, I haven’t been to the
area before. So I was looking forward to enjoying some new countryside in great
Our route initially took us westwards along a cycle
path parallel to the busy A299 before turning south through Minster and past
the amusingly named Plucks Gutter. I almost felt at home here as the countryside
was pretty flat with an almost fenland feel to it. We soon reached Wingham and
turned east heading gradually towards the coast. I spotted an apple orchard which I
imagine along with hop fields is one of the county’s archetypal sights. Today
was very much a social ride so there was lots of chatter amongst our small peloton.
And as this was also a ‘no-drop’ ride we paused occasionally to allow everyone
In no time at all we were into Sandwich and
riding past the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club. The direction of the wind meant
that there was virtually no chance of any of us being hit by a wayward tee shot
so that was a bit of a relief. (Note to readers: I used to be rather expert at
wayward tee shots so I do know what I am talking about.)
Leaving the golf course behind we arrived
at Deal for what is always the high point of any ride – the café stop. The
RouteOne Cycle Café was our choice of venue and truly excellent it was too. They
had obviously gone to great lengths to make us feel welcome to the extent that
their name boards were painted in celeste! Our impressive collection of Bianchi
bikes leaning against the sea wall created a real stir of interest and
admiration amongst the many passers-by. Most of us were able to pass this off
quite nonchalantly, but I am certain that everyone got a buzz from the interest
shown by our admirers; well the admirers of the bikes if not the riders. For
the sake of completeness I should report that the coffee was excellent and the
chocolate orange sponge cake was even better. I’m just relieved that cycling is
a high calorie sport. ….
Resisting the temptation to linger and
overstay our welcome we then retraced our route slightly to ride up the coast through
Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate. Pedalling along the coast line gave the ride
a completely new and delightful feeling. With some impressive chalk cliffs and
a few ups and downs this really did round out the East Kent experience. The
only downside was the volume of traffic. But you can’t have everything. From
Margate we headed westwards to Westgate before turning inland to arrive back at
our starting point – the Premier Inn car park.
So how do you sum up a ride like this?
Well, partly it’s the quality of the route and Ian T who planned it did us
proud. Very proud. But for me, more than anything it’s the people I ride with.
Once again with BOCUK I really did feel that I was riding with my extended
family – people I’ve known for a while but never met and who in mere minutes
forge a really strong bond.
Somewhere on the ride I got chatting to Paul V
who seemed surprised when I told him I was nearly 60. (Thanks Paul – much appreciated
and I’ll ride with you anytime mate.) Slightly cornily I told him that it was all
down to Essence of Edoardo a secret cosmetic. Well after thinking about this a bit more on the
drive home I decided I wasn’t that wide of the mark. Edoardo Bianchi founded
his company in Milan in 1885. I can’t imagine that he would have conceived of a
group like us riding our bikes round the English countryside. But I am pretty
sure that had he been able to see us he would have been quite proud that we
enjoy his legacy. So I’ve decided that’s what the Essence of Edoardo really is.
And before you get any clever ideas I’m off to claim the copyright!
Celeste compagni piloti!
Absolute pleasure to have you ride with us Mark, glad you liked my training routes, feel free if in the area at any time to come out for a pedal with Sam, Scott, Noel or myself...ReplyDelete