The Great Kent Cycle is a circular route from Ashford which covers 59 miles (though we were told 53). It is run by bike-events for the Canterbury Oast Trust. I went with 3 other riders who are all doing the London to Paris. We arrived at 8am and signed up there and then (didn’t pre book). I was number 628. It was my first time at a event so I was really surprised at the size of it and the number and range of bikes.
We headed off at 8:15am so weren’t the first people to start but not the last by any stretch either. The first mile or so was through quite narrow cycle paths through Ashford, so initially kept the pace of the bikes ahead, but then over took a few.
The first 14 miles took us out of Ashford and down through the Romney Marshes to New Romney. During this time I was so shocked at how many people I was over taking! The Romney Marshes are very flat (being marshes and all that) so I pushed a high average speed of between 18 – 20 mph and really cruised past a lot of other cyclists. It was great that there were such a range of cyclists out, families and people on heavy mountain bikes right up to professionals on amazing bikes (though I didn’t catch them!). I didn’t see anyone in a conical racing helmet mind you (that would have been over the top!)
At New Romney we turned right onto the coast road. We were instantly hit by a heavy oncoming wind. This really slowed us down to an average of around 12mph. We stopped for the first refreshment break 19 miles in at The Pilot Public House in Dungeness. This brought back happy memories of going to the coast with my grandparents and having huge portions of Fish and Chips in the Pilot despite ordering a small. Though instead of fish and chips I was eating Powerbars and energy drinks!
From Dungeness we continued up to Lydd, passing Dungeness 1 and 2 (The Nuclear Power Stations). Then turned down to back to the coast and Camber Sands. Down on the sands there were plenty of people kite surfing, from a distance the skyline was full of kites. Stopped briefly in Camber for another refreshment break (which was just under halfway). Then headed on through Rye, from Rye headed up to the Isle of Oxney which included a couple of steep hills, then onto Tenterden.
In Tenterden we stopped at Woolworths for a chocolate top up and got back on the bikes. Leaving Tenterden we passed (well I say passed they were going in the other direction) a professional cycle race, complete with pace safety cars and motorcycle outriders.
Headed up to Woodchurch and the route took us through the rare breds centre. Part of this we had to walk through which is why that lap time looks really slow (honest). From here there was a countdown of miles to go from 10. This was a great motivator, and we saw the miles tumble past quickly as we went through Shadowhurst and on to Ashford. The end of the route went back though the cycle paths which was good (safe) but prevented you from really pushing fast on the last two miles as you couldn’t see round the corners. Went through the finish line in 3 hours 58 mins.
So the Stats
Total distance 58.98 miles
Time 3 Hours 58 Minutes 22 Seconds
Average Pace 4.02 minutes per mile
Average Speed 14.8 mph
Max Speed 31.7 mph
Total Calories 3621 (though who knows how many were in the Powerbars I ate!)
I am really pleased with these results, I set myself a time of 5 hours including breaks and met this exactly despite the route being 6 miles longer than I expected. I was also amazed with the average speed I kept up. It really shows the difference it makes to be on the flats rather than hills, you can be cruising along at 18 mph easily. Though it did show me to better prepare myself for the Pedal to Paris I need to practice my hill climbs!