Saturday night here........been up since 6.30, standing in London from 9 till 6.30pm. Up tomorrow at 6am. This Tour malarkey is great, isn't it!
Vive le Tour.
My San Remo rode fairly smoothly on the surface, the tarmac is passable and were no noticeable pot holes.
From Strood, the race progresses into Frinsbury. This is slightly tricky, as the roads narrow on the approach into this village. Again, there is some road furniture. Once we get onto the Frinsbury Road (A228), the road widens again. For around 500 meters, this starts off very innocuous; a false flat follows until the junction of the B2002. The route stays on the Finsbury Hill, but from this point onwards the road kicks up for around 1km. This is the first 'challenging' part of the course in about 15km, so much so that I had to come of the big ring and drop a couple of gears. Without trying to sound arrogant, I envisage that a lot of the taller riders will do the same thing at this point, as well as getting out of the saddle. This rise only lasts for around 700m, normality is soon returned!
At the junction, the riders will do a right at the large roundabout down St. Anthony's Way, which in turn leads us to another roundabout taking us onto the A289. This part of the route includes the Medway Tunnel. After the brief incline, I really enjoyed this section. It was not technical, the road was smooth and the Butler gave me great confidence to push hard.
Upon exiting the Tunnel (which has taken us under the River Medway), we continue on the same road, which is where the first Sprint point occurs. This two-laned road is only a handful of years old, and passes by the University of Grenwich's Medway Campus.
My only worry is the amount of islands at the top of this road. The lanes filter down into small bits of road, and have intruding obstacles either side. I am going to take another trip down here to investigate; I drove past it this afternoon, and a brief look suggests this could lead to a crash. In contrast to the picture above, the succeeding picture shows how the bottleneck occurs within just a few hundred meters. There is a slight cut of the corner the riders can take - even this would still be dangerous.
We now approach Brompton, via the long Medway/Prince Arthur Road. A gradual incline takes us onto the aforementioned Brompton Road/Wood Street. The latter has recently tarmacked, and a nasty pothole that was on the run down onto Dock Road has also been the recipient of some TLC.
I'm sure that Dock Road is going to be one of the fastest parts of the route. The ride here is comfortable, and the two lane width will assist the peloton. As we approach Union Street, another fairly tight (due to road furniture again) downhill bend awaits the riders. I had no problems here, a group of 180 riders may experience something else.
Of all the tragedies in the World, the Tour passes through Chatham - infamous within England for the birthplace of the 'Chav'. I won't go there..... Luckily, The Brook and New Road are two of the main roads around the town, so the out-dated and tacky High Street may not be shown on the Television feed. The beginning of New Road is slightly uphill, other than that I struggle to find any problems for the Cyclists.
The short downhill section of Star Hill takes us into historic Rochester, well known for the Castle, Cathedral and associations with Charles Dickens. Despite the length of the hill, it is very steep; the peloton had to ride up it three times during the 1997 Rochester Classic race, held over 242km of Kent roads.Sadly we don't pass through the historic High Street - complete with the Roubaix-eqsue cobbles-, however both the Castle and Cathedral are within a few meters of the riders as they turn towards Burham. This part of the course - as well as several kilometres of Stage One - were used as part of Kent stage of last year's Tour of Britain. (Yes, the one that was marred by a horrific Police Escort). My main worry here is the width of the roads by the Castle; the one-way system is used, and outside the historic venue the roads turns 90-degree left, then immediately downhill. If it rains, which it did for the ToB stage last September, chaos could well follow.
St. Margarets Road takes us away from the town centre and onto the outskirts of Rochester. My complete lack of fitness meant I had to drop the gears down a little for this road, as it gradually rises uphill; the distance rather than the ascent is the tricky part here. Speed- bumps are installed here, however these can be removed. I doubt the ASO will tell the local authorities to leave them in, as 'nuisance' is not the right term for this littering of the tarmac. The best thing about this road was the recently re-laid surface, which had a pothole epidemic in the past.With the various stops along the route, this section took me nearly one and a half hours. Anything between thirty to forty minutes for the professionals come July 8th wouldn't surprise me.
Feel free to get involved, that's what Blogs are there for. Hopefully I'll be seeing some of you in and around London come July!