Hop Garden 200k - 14 May

Hop Garden 200k - 14 May

22 May 17

For me this was a second ride of this event having enjoyed a glorious sunny day in 2016. This year, once the early morning drizzle had moved out to sea, the sun shone again - though this year it was cooler and windier.
Somehow I had forgotten how tough was the first part of the ride on the way to Hythe. The route ran along the base of the downs and consisted of a succession of short steep ups and downs with some pretty sketchy road surfaces. This made progress slow and caused me to reflect on the 80+ miles that still remained. It occurred to me that had the road been built ΒΌ of a mile to the right it would have been flat. Still, it gave me an opportunity to use my granny ring which brought me the unusual experience of overtaking a few riders on a climb.
The stretch after Hythe fulfilled my wish for flat roads. Last year the ride across Romney marsh was super fast with a light tail-wind. This year there was a strong south-westerly which didn't help but was rarely actually a head-wind. Eventually the route headed north and the wind began to help. Now there were lovely rolling roads to enjoy - but how much better they would have been had they been properly surfaced. Kent seems to rival Hertfordshire for incompetent road maintenance.
Finally I reached the highlight of the ride, the ascent of Holly Hill. I don't know what the gradient was but it was certainly another opportunity for the granny ring. As last year, the euphoria at reaching the top caused me to miss a turn which added 4 miles to the route - but at least it was a flat 4 miles!
Another enjoyable day in Kent with beautiful weather and beautiful scenery.