The early part of the ride was... eventful. Good natured dissent showed its head at the first bend as Phil's plan to mount the North Downs the steep way was rejected in favour of the more gentle climb up Coopers Hill and thence to Bletchingley. Nick was third up behind mountain specialists Lisa D and Rob N looking every bit ready for Mallorca.
Then we had one of those 'three times round the roundabout while the GPS resets itself' comedy moments before Wally brought his encyclopaedic knowledge to bear upon our direction to get to the foot of Titsey Hill.
Mike O had not entered the Pilgrims Way via this route before and blanched a little at the sight of the 16% sign but have no fear, the turning is before this horror really kicks up.
However, once rolling along this glorious historic route in the warming spring sunshine, we had only got a few miles when...pssssssss. One of Nick's deep rim section wheels developed a flat. Nick, in his generosity handed over the handling of the situation to Rob who had come equipped with latex gloves. Good job. First, once fixed and reinflated, the tyre blew the valve clean out of the tube. But still stayed inflated. However then we got to 'Di2-gate'. The following day Nick was booked in to learn how to re-fit the rear derailleur hanger if you have to change a flat. Note "the following day".... so everyone sat there looking at this electronic beastie going "that doesn't look right". And it wasn't. We abandoned Nick somewhere near Otford where in a miracle he managed to fix it himself, he tells me. Wonders, as they say, will never cease.
And today's ride was a wonder.
The remaining protaganists rolled onwards under Phil's guidance to Sharon's recommended alternative teastop, Brookside Garden Centre, for sustenance before a ride back into a brisk headwind. Luckily, we had Rob and Lisa to pace us much of the way and the bunch only split near Lingfield to allow those running out of electronic-shifter-gazing-time to get home in good time.
A beautiful day - hot even towards the end - but around 70 miles at an average just over 15mph. Flat? I had 3,500ft of climbing on the GPS but it felt flat due to the fine company.