Remembrance Ride 2018

11th November 2018

This is the last formal ride-out of the Chelsea & Fulham riding season, and what a great one it’s been. This ride (like the first of the year) is always a bit at the mercy of the weather; this year the day itself was quite nice with no more than a bit of drizzle and a chilly wind, but the night before had seen London visited by ‘Storm Dierdre’ which did cause us problems, as we were to discover.

The choice of Chatham arose out of a sense of fairness; in 2014 we had visited Ypres in Belgium, clearly an army centred location. In the intervening years we have also been to the RAF section of Brookwood cemetery in Surrey, so it seemed fair to seek out the Royal Navy for 2018. Regrettably by the nature of their trade most sailors killed in action are either buried or lost at sea so they are commemorated on memorials. The nearest to Warr’s is at Chatham in Kent, overlooking the river Medway. Early reconnaissance indicated that parking for the bikes would be practical, and there was an excellent lunch stop about 10 minutes away in the Chatham Historical Dockyard, itself a venue well worthy of a future visit.

The recce on the Monday prior to the ride revealed no obvious problems so we were just hoping for a dry day. I had purchased an official wreath from the Royal British legion to lay at the memorial, and poppies and medals were to be worn as appropriate. We even had some flags on the bikes.

Experience from earlier years indicated that it was safer and more convenient to hold the two-minute silence at Warrs Kings Road prior to setting off. Regrettably no-one thought to inform the children’s party at the other end of Michael Road what day it was and the caterwauling continued throughout. The briefing immediately preceded the silence and departure followed soon after. Since the ride was only about 40 miles I had not included a petrol stop. The outline plan was to arrive at the memorial at about 1pm and get to the lunch stop by about 2pm so we had plenty of time for a meal before the kitchens closed at 3.30pm.

On the evening of 10th November South London was deluged in heavy rain; unfortunately, this left several roads still flooded and impassable. Keeping an eye on the Satnav (which as usual was helping and hindering in equal parts) showed that we were falling well behind schedule fighting through the traffic and avoiding the road closures. I opted for a quick regroup where I briefed the road captains that we were now heading straight for Chatham by the most direct route which meant rather longer on the A2 than was ideal, but put us quickly back on schedule. As it transpired we arrived at the memorial in good time and had the opportunity for a few words and laying the wreath. Steve Graham even fitted in a group shot. We indeed got to the dockyard at 2pm where we were welcomed by the catering staff. The fish and chips started appearing soon after.

Remembrance Ride 2018

It was good to see so many faces from previous trips, indeed only two people volunteered that it was their first ride with C&F. We even had a trike. Many thanks to Steve Graham and Ray Campbell being RCs on the day, Gavin Caddick for laying the wreath and special mention to Nigel Gaskin and Andrew Eborn for helping with the research and checking out the facilities. Dom Mulvaney opened the shop and helped Ray out with a bike issue before we even set off, as well as taking some nice shots from the roundabout by The Rose as we left. Final thanks are to a Chatham resident and non-riding buddy of mine, Richard Thorburn, who did the initial feasibility test for me after we dreamed up the idea in a pub after the original Albert trip idea fell through.

And the Chatham memorial story? You had to be there...

Our next and final meeting of the year is Breakfast at Smiths on Sunday 9th December from 10am. See you there, but don’t forget to let me know you’re coming so I can keep an eye on numbers and adjust the booking if necessary.

Michael Howers - C&F Road Captain