London to Canterbury: outrunning a weather warning across endless Kent hills

In Cycle routes, London by Claire

It started with a weather warning. Serious winds were expected. I love my friends because we all had the same reaction: if the winds were due to hit at 1pm, we could just wake up earlier and outrun the weather. Spoiler: everyone survives and the North Downs are hilly.

Kent is a team rider’s mecca. Or this is the impression I get – aside from a drizzly Rapha 100 last year, I haven’t really ridden around Kent, and that ride was much more like a long wet loop of a ride spent hugging coffee, thanks largely to the weather. I’ve ended up moving country this summer and went back to England for a week during the summer. On the first day back, I was lucky enough that my friends were free for a ride.

We did this one to Canterbury Cathedral across the Kent North Downs. It was perfect.

Tower Bridge is a gorgeous iconic place to start a ride out of the city. After rescuing my bike from my old flat in the early hours of the morning and cycling it across the city to get a couple of hours sleep, we blearily met at 6am.

Kent has hills. The previous Rapha ride seemed to have skirted most of them. Luckily our London to Canterbury Cathedral route included them all to make up for lost time. A lot of my cycling relies on optimism and keeping going even when it’s a bit shit. As such, I can underestimate elevation graphs. Even if I’d known about the hills I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I might have eaten properly though – my worst habit. Disappearing into thin country lanes, then popping up for air with amazing views was ridiculously brilliant.

In terms of small hurricanes, despite some terrifying gusts and a feeling that worse was to come, the weather held up. We raced across the ridges – up and down, across the skyline – and into some particularly twee pubs with silly names, and made it intact and exhausted.

If Berlin was a memorable summer, this was one pretty stand out magic day back home, too.

Limited photos below of all aforementioned things, because some people will be idiots and lose their phones.

London to CanteburyHair braiding school with My-Ha and Naomi is probably my favourite way to start bike rides. Photo courtesy of My-Ha.

London to Cantebury My-Ha photoHeading out with the sun.

London to CanteburyThe beginning of the slew of cute pubs.

London to Cantebury My-Ha photoSomewhere in the Kent country lanes, when the rain came. Photo courtesy of My-Ha.

London to Cantebury My-Ha photoNo one liked the rain. Photo courtesy of My-Ha.

London to Cantebury My-Ha photoFaces of champions/idiots, on arrival at Canterbury Cathedral. Photo courtesy of My-Ha.

We took a few wrong turns but you can download the GPX route here (wrong turns and our ability to misread the Garmin not included). We also ate at the bike-friendly White Hart, which had a huge beer garden and didn’t bat an eyelid as we ate everything under the sun, then half of us fell asleep.

ClaireLondon to Canterbury: outrunning a weather warning across endless Kent hills