Camping Weekend with a ride to view the tour as it travels through kent

Ride and report by Liz and Ken.

*****Saturday Our camping weekend for the visit of the Tour de France to London and Kent proved a very popular event. 29 people in 12 units arrived at Manor Court Farm campsite, in Ashurst near Tunbridge Wells, over the course of Friday afternoon and evening, to be greeted with fine weather for a change and lovely views across towards Crowborough and Ashdown Forest.

On Saturday morning an option of a shortish morning ride was offered and taken up by 8 tandems and 3 solos. We set off at 0930 for a fairly hilly 15 mile ride through Speldhurst, Haysden and Penshurst in warm sunshine. We returned to the campsite at about 11:15 and then gathered together again to walk the mile or so, on a pleasant footpath, down to Ashurst station to catch the train up to London to watch the Prologue. It was, unsurprisingly, extremely busy up in London but there was a great atmosphere and it was possible to find good spots to watch the route once away from the busiest scrum around Hyde Park Corner. We mostly split up into family groups once in London as it was hard to keep together and some of us had made arrangements to meet up with other friends and family. There was a train every hour back to Ashurst from London Bridge so we returned at various times in smaller groups back to camp to swap stories of where we had watched the time trial. It had been a tiring day, not helped by some inconsiderate fellow campers (not from our group, I hasten to add) being rather noisy until the early hours.



Sunday again dawned sunny and warm and everyone was looking forward to seeing the race as it sped through Kent. We set off to plan at 09:30 with 13 tandems and 3 solos, quite a number to keep together and moving. In order to get to our intended vantage point of the 4th category climb at Goudhurst we knew we couldn’t afford to have too many stops so we used the system whereby the 2nd bike in the group stopped at each junction to show the correct way and to count all the bikes through. Apologies to those who would have preferred more breaks but I think it was worth the effort. We approached the race route via Bewl Water and as we got nearer there were more and more bikes doing the same thing which made counting our group quite a challenge at junctions. Rather than heading for the top of the climb, where we thought it would be packed, we approached from the bottom and Tim found us an excellent spot a quarter of a mile or so up the road, we had a good grassy verge on both sides, with a shady and a sunny side giving good options for all.

We had about half an hour to eat our packed lunches before the publicity caravan came through. Most of us managed to collect a good assortment of both useful and useless freebies whilst enjoying the spectacle. Another short break in the entertainment allowed time to finish packed lunches and do some bartering with the free gifts and then the riders were upon us. First up came the breakaway group headed by David Millar followed about 5 minutes later by the colourful peloton amidst much cheering and applause – it was a really good atmosphere again with a good mix of both dedicated race followers of several nations and somewhat bemused locals all mixed up to enjoy the day. Once all the vehicles had passed we re-grouped and set off on our return journey which, like the outward route, had its fair share of hills. We split up in Tunbridge Wells with most stopping at the Pantiles for a tea stop whilst the others continued back to the site to pack up and get home to other appointments. On the way back to the site we met back up with Mick and Rose who had ridden in to watch at Tunbridge Wells and had found a big screen so could tell us the result of the finish in Canterbury.

[img][/img] Sunday ride details about 38 miles with 3353ft of climbing.

Many thanks to everyone who joined us, it made it an excellent weekend.

route 8th July - Proposed route for Sunday

Saturday - Bridge over the Medway - Photo by Dave

Saturday - Penshurst place - Photo by Dave

Saturday - Jake - Photo by Dave

Saturday - Chris and Helen - Photo by Dave

Saturday - Jude and Cho - Photo by Dave

Saturday - Tour Prologue - Photo by Dave

Sunday - Sun Cream - Photo by Dave

Sunday - Goudhurst - Photo by Dave

Sunday - Photographer - Photo by Dave

Sunday - Family group - Photo by Dave

Sunday - Millar in the break - Photo by Dave

Sunday - The peloton - Photo by Dave

Sunday - Relaxing - Photo by Dave

Sunday - Tim and Anne with the Treasure Hunt trophy - Photo by Dave

Saturday route - Saturday Morning route

Saturday ride - Photo by Rose

The Breakaway - Photo by Liz

Saturday - Team cars on display - Photo by Pauline

Saturday - Bike Line up - Photo by Pauline

Saturday - Hyde Park Gardeners celebrate the Tour - Photo by Pauline

Sunday - The Caravan - Photo by Pauline

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