The part that I didn't cover is the very last section that leaves Hawley Road at the 15km point and continues along the Darenth Valley Path for the last kilometre. This path runs along the banks of the river Darenth. I stayed on the road at this point and followed it back to the finish point because I didn't want to take my road bike off-road and end up with it covered in mud etc. The hill profile of this last section (flat) remains essentially the same as the main road which also runs adjacent to the river. I had a look down the path afterwards and to be honest, it didn't look too bad (See photo below).
You'll be glad to hear that there are already plenty of 'Advanced Warning' signs informing road users that the roads will be closed for the duration of the event. I was almost run off the road by a deliver van whilst cycling on one of the narrow country lanes so it's nice to know that we'll have these roads to ourselves on race day.
The best view is probably from the top of Darenth Hill which you'll reach at the 3.7km point just after you turn onto Roman Villa Road. It's not the highest point of the course but from memory it did offer the best views (panoramic views in all directions) and is the steepest hill on the course (approx 7% incline), and as this section is part of the out-and-back part, you get to climb it from both directions - you'll be 12.7km's into the race when you reach the top for the second time - Just focus on the views!
The roads were all fairly clear of winter debris and there were no flooded sections. The only road that had any significant debris was Gill's Road, which you reach after about 5.9km's and lasts until around 7.7km. Winter debris (twiggs and mud) lined the middle of the road and there was evidence of some possible fly-tipping at some stage. There was also quite a lot of smashed glass on the ground at one point.
If you'd like to see the course on Strava you can view my route here. You can also see the hill profile on this page and get a good idea of exactly where to expect those hills (or do we call them undulations?). Just remember, the last kilometre or so of the route that I rode is not the actual course that we will be using on race day. Please refer to the official course map if there is any doubt.
A few photos from today's ride are below..
|Advanced Warning sign on Hawley road|
|Powder Mill Lane - the start is roughly around here (finish is also on same road)|
|One of the views from the course|
|part of Gill's Road|
|looking west down Holmesdale Hill|
|Holmesdale Hill / Gill's Road junction|
|Looking east along Holmesdale Hill|
|Roman Villa Road meet Holmesdale Hill|
|Darenth Valley Path just before it reaches Powder Mill Lane for the finish|