As it was my first leading ride, I followed the committee’s advice and limited the number to participants only 6 members with no associates so totally we had 7 rides including myself. I think that’s the best number for the first rides as much less chance for a mistake.
What were the weather conditions?
We were lucky with the weather and it was dry and warm, for winter, of course. But most important, the roads were dry as well as when I’ve checked the route a few weeks before, after rains season, there were not so comfortable.
What was your route and how/why did you choose it?
We went to Route 1066 Café on A21 from Flowers Farm in Godstone. I like to visit new places but unfortunately, I missed Charles Hilton’s ride back in November. I was going to ride it alone but recently saw a note in our magazine about group leading and decided why not give it a try?
How did you plan the ride?
I’ve asked Charles about his route and he’s been so kind enough to share it with me but I’ve slightly change it to start from Flower Farm instead of our Tatsfield meeting point but I’ve created my way back on my own with TomTom planning app and using Google street view. I’ve also used OpenStreetBrowser online map to check speed limits to plan the route. It’s under Transportation -> Individual Traffic -> Maxspeed, if someone finds it useful.
Were there any hazards or problems during the ride?
I am very grateful to my group. At some junctions I found it very difficult to indicate the stopping points, but those who followed me made up their own minds in such cases that was very helpful. Now I think maybe we all need to be more responsible on group trips and not wait for the leader to tell us what to do.
I'm also glad John agreed in advance to be my Tail End Charlie. It might be worth doing an email distribution to all participants before the ride, so as not to waste time the same day.
Where did you stop – any issues or recommendations?
The parking was a little busy, what I didn’t expect as was there a weekday when checked the route but we had to problems to find a table. Although If it’s a small place, probably it’s better to book a table in advance.
There were no issues with our group and all got to the place absolutely safe and even at the same time but while we were in the café, there was an cars accident on the road. Luckily no one was injured but we all should be very careful after the winter.
In the way back, we met a few horses and now I think it would be better to stop and switch off the engine on a narrow road to let a harnessed horse through. The winter period does affect perception.
Would you lead another ride?
Oh, yes, definitely. I’ve already scheduled one for 1st April to The Tea Barn café in South Downs National Park on A272 and if the weather is great we will ride by Wolvens Lane Byway – a road with no tarmac but hard soil, small stones and occasional sand. Nothing serious and I rode it many times on my V-Strom so doable with no special training but I can’t recommend it for all members, especially sport or classical bikes.
It's also hard to know ahead of time, but I'd like to organise a weekend trip to the countryside. Wandering the roads, as I am unlikely to be able to ride the whole route beforehand, tents, campfire, mosquitoes, everything as it should be. Probably late July, early August. Hope I can still find like-minded people if decide to do this.
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