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Monday, October 08, 2007


(click any photo to enlarge)

And so the day came to take the newly refurbished Raleigh Record Ace for its first outing to a meeting of the Veteran-Cycle Club. A lovelyAutumn day, with a "Misty, Moisty, Morning" and spiders' webs glittering on the hedgerows.

I rode to the meeting place, a little country airfield about 12 miles distant along quiet Kentish lanes hedged with ripe blackberries. The field is a well-known meeting place and there was the added treat of seeing a get-to-gether of the Motor Assisted Cycle Club and the start of a run of the Vintage Sports Car Club (superb vehicles from the 1920/30s.
A variety of cycles of all ages arrived - most brought along in cars to the start:

This is an 1897 American Victor. The guy (Victor, would you believe) had bought it at an auction the day before (he refused to tell us how much he paid for it!) and this was its first run out. The wheel rims are made from maple wood and must not be subjected to extremes of temperature or they buckle.

Here is another - a mid 1930's BSA "Trichrome Special". A vast machine ridden by a bloke about 6 foot 5 inches (Veterans don't do metric!). He stuck up like a lighthouse as he rode amongst the group.
So eventually a group of some 28 riders on machines of various ages assembled

Having admired each other's mounts we set off through the narrow, traffic-free lanes of the Kentish Weald, a leisurely ride, moving up and down the column to chat to different people and now and again stopping to allow the slower, older bicycles to catch up.

For the "non-English" amongst my friends the curious buildings in the background are "Oast Houses", originally used for drying hops, used in beer making and now turned into desirable country houses.
Eventually, after a delightful meander of some 12 miles we arrived at the country pub where lunch had been booked. The super weather meant that meals could be taken outside in the garden and this was another chance to chat to others and admire the bikes

I gravitated towards one old chap (extreme left of the second lunch pic.) who had an earlier model of my machine. He said he did not ride as much as he used to, but always made the point of riding a little every day, whatever the weather - it "kept him in trim" - He was 87!!
After a magnificent Ploughman's Lunch and some good Kentish Ale we gradually assembled by common consent and set off by another route back to the airfield. Only one puncture on one of the trikes (3 wheeler racing cycles, the riders of which are known as "barrow boys") stayed our passage. We sat on the grass and chatted, offering sage advice whilst it was mended.
Arriving back we congregated at the little airfield's cafe, sitting in the sun with cakes and tea, listening to the drone of the prop planes taking off and watching the parachutists enjoying themselves (each to their own, I suppose, but you would not get me stepping into space from 5,000 feet).
Goodbyes said, I cycled the 12 miles home through the autumn-tinted lanes, the sun on my back. A leisurely day of some 48 miles overall in good company, in lovely scenery. A "green" day - no petrol used (by me, at least), no carbon footprint left behind. So simple, so completely satisfying.
Oh...and my Raleigh Record Ace? Admired and coveted by most. But in such groups there is always one "rivet counter". Ours took pains to tell me that the bolt holding the handlebar stem should have a slotted head, not Allen key type! (It made him happy).


herhimnbryn said...

Sounds good. Sigh, Autumnal lanes and wild blackberries AND Kentish ale!

Lee said...

The bikes are alright, I suppose, but those first two photos are glorious!

chiefbiscuit said...

Wonderful! Marvellous account - and photos!
Rivet counter! I like that! You're right - there's always one.
Sounds like a wonderful day in a beautiful part of the country.

Lucy said...

What a delightful, delicious day out, everything just perfect, even the rivet counter, whose caricature anorakishness adds the final touch. Oh I want to partake of those cakes and ale!

Knowleypowley said...


Thanks for this account, summs up a perfect day in the English countryside


Avus said...

Thanks you all - glad you also enjoyed the day out - it was "just perfick" (who said that? He "lived" right in this area).
"anorakishness" - what a wonderful word, Lucy!

herhimnbryn said...

That would Pa Larkin, methinks!

Avus said...

HHnB: too easy for an (ex)Maid of Kent of a literary bent!
Note: "Maid of Kent" not "Kentish Maid", - depends on which side of the river Medway you are born.

Nea said...

Ah what a wonderful read, felt like I was there with you guys. It would be wonderful to have a place to ride where there are no autos. I don't think we have such a thing here. Your countryside has to be without argument the most lovely and scenic I have ever laid eyes on. I know if I were to see it in person, I would never want to leave. I watch British Mysteries simply to get a taste of the beautiful countryside. I suppose I must see it for myself one day....... I just wish I knew the language, haha

Avus said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Nea. Although we have our over-crowded roads, especially here in the south-east of the country. It is fun to find the quiet lanes though - like little mice creeping hither and yon whilst the great busy world goes about its noisy, rushing existence on the motorways and in the towns.
I think it was Churchill who said that the English and the Americans are two countries united by different languages!

Nea said...

haha, I watch Midsomer Murders, and the Inspector Lynley Mysteries, and several other British show, and I am often left scratching my head, trying to figure out, what is a punter? Or what is bubble and squeak, or what the heck do they mean by ?? Well you get the idea. We just don't have the same words that mean the same things......but I get enough of the story after I watch them for the third time....haha The one thing I DO understand, is the English gardens.......

Nea said...

I really enjoy your stories and pictures, makes me feel like I am there, and I truly would just love to walk out there with those sheep, strolling in the mist. It is so beautiful..

Avus said...

Thanks, Nea - yes it is really lovely here at present with the Autumn ("Fall" to you!) colours.
You will have to get yourself a UK dictionary of slang (they do exist).
One could get into trouble using English idiom in the US. If someone wants a smoke here we say "just going outside for a fag".
We are also encouraged to have "5 helpings of fruit a day" !

sheoflittlebrain said...

Lovely post, Avus! I too, watch the mystery movies for the glimpse of countryside and gardens that serves as a backdrop for the actors.
I think, that here in America, even the most quiet trail or byway feels a bit wild and uncertain... maybe it's the serenity of your pastoral scenes we long for..

Avus said...

She: Thanks for visiting. Yes this is still a lovely country in spite of all its troubles and taxes!

Nea said...

HI Avus, just stopped by to see how you are doing and see if you have taken any more excursions into the countryside....... :):)

Avus said...

Nea: been a bit busy recently (although "semi-retired" I find that I have been working 5 day weeks - this must stop!) Back soon - riding, cycling, blogging.

Wenda said...

What a lovely place you have to ride and enjoy. I love those first two photos, too, and wonder what those scenes must look like now a month later. Any chance you're going for another outing soon?

Avus said...

Wenda: Nice to hear from you again. Yes, no doubt I shall be posting other rides (cycle or motorcycle) soon - our countryside deserves to be shared.