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We tried out e-bikes from UK Electric Bike Centre in Headcorn, who provided tours for Sandi Toksvig and an ex-Arsenal player

It’s been 10 years since I have even looked at a bike let alone ridden one. But when I was offered a chance to try out e-bikes, I thought I'd give it a go. After all you never forget, right?

And it couldn't go worse than the last time I took a tour when I went head over handles into a fence.

The offer came from Marcus Van Der Gaag at the UK Electric Bike Centre who has recently moved to the Headcorn Aerodrome from Biddenden.

The shop calls itself the leading experts in Electric bikes, selling and repairing a wide variety of the powered bipedal vehicles but also provide the chance to try the bikes out on a day’s hire.

UK Electric Bikes Centre provides its own tours for people and companies to take through the Kentish vineyards and countryside. For my experience, I wanted something more personal.

I am an avid cricketer and have been to many grounds around the Weald. So what better way to explore it than to visit some of the more significant grounds in the area.

My dad was the one to get me into the sport. He died in 2015 and so in his honour I decided to include the grounds he once called home.

The UK Electric Bike Centre in the Headcorn Aerodrome
The UK Electric Bike Centre in the Headcorn Aerodrome
With the bike at Headcorn Cricket Club
With the bike at Headcorn Cricket Club

So, the route was planned, the stops set, and, thanks to the centre, our transport was sorted but not before a quick lesson on how the bikes worked.

Like an ordinary one, it had a simple gears mechanism and two pedals, that I was familiar with, but the part less familiar was the control unit in the centre of the handlebars.

On it was a series of digital dials and buttons explaining how fast you were going and which power setting you were in.

Marcus told us that with each setting our base speed would increase around 3mph with the bike reaching a maximum of 15mph.

There were five different settings on our particular bikes and by the end I pretty much had it set on the fifth setting.

After a quick demonstration from Marcus and a tester lap around the forecourt, by around 10am me and my travelling companion Louis Turney were setting off to our first location.

We took a scenic route towards Headcorn Cricket Club; a ground that sticks in my memory as one of my favourites to play at and I will always snap up the opportunity to play there whenever I can.

However, it was only our first stop, so we swiftly cycled up through Ulcombe and Kingsdown to reach the Leeds and Broomfield CC ground.

The road was very hilly and routes like the one we took are the reasons I avoid cycling but thanks to the battery power, it made the route a breeze.

We stopped on occasion to take in the view of the rolling hills seeing some incredible houses and even a manor house on our route. We eventually made it to Leeds and Broomfield.

The gates of Leeds and Broomfield CC
The gates of Leeds and Broomfield CC

Unfortunately, we couldn’t look at the pitch as it was in use for a colts’ cricket day. The pitch itself sits above the grounds of Leeds Castle and is surrounded by luscious knolls and excellent views.

The next stop was the first sentimental one for me on the route; Hollingbourne CC.

Unfortunately, the club folded back in 2018 but it would always be the place I got my first taste of the sport.

My dad would take me up every weekend to watch him play, even if I didn’t want to, and even before that my Grandad helped build the pavilion.

My family has roots in Hollingbourne, and I only got the privilege to play there a few times but it still felt special to see it again. It also sits next to the Dirty Habit pub which burnt down last October.

Sitting at Bearsted CC
Sitting at Bearsted CC

Luckily, a decision was made after the club folded for Bearsted Cricket Club to take over maintaining the ground and so it still sees some use today.

Speaking of Bearsted, that was the next stop as we looked for somewhere to stop for some lunch.

We pulled up at the Oak on the Green, a pub which was recently voted the best managed Shepherd Neame pub in Kent.It sits on the boundary of the Bearsted Green where the cricket club has played since 1749.

Another ground I haven’t played much at, but it cannot be overlooked as it stands as one of the longest-standing cricket pitches in Kent.

It was around 1pm and we had cycled around 20 miles, but we still had a few more stops to go.

Pit stop at the Oak on the Green in Bearsted
Pit stop at the Oak on the Green in Bearsted

Heading through Otham, we would end up at the next ground sentimental to me at Rumwood Cricket Club.

Not only did my dad play there but was also in the team that gave me my first taste of adult cricket, 14 years ago and where I started playing alongside my old man and brother.

Until this year I was still playing cricket there but unfortunately, the club folded this summer.

Heading along the Heath Road, we made it to our final destination at Linton Park Cricket Club. It is the place my brother and I now play cricket and where both Louis and I learnt to play as colts.

The ground itself sits on the land Linton Park Manor which recently went on the market for £32 million.

Louis tending to the eBikes
Louis tending to the eBikes

The gates were locked when we arrived so for ease, we did not go onto the pitch but considering I see it almost weekly, it wasn’t a priority.

It was now 2.30pm and we were finally heading back to Headcorn to hand in the bikes. Our route took slightly more than five hours to complete and stretched around 35 miles.

The weather, the views, and the chance to revisit all these grounds was an incredible experience and honestly would not have been achievable without the e-bikes.

Though our legs were tired we didn’t really break a sweat and did not feel like we cycled as far as we did.

Louis said: “It was a good day out. We saw all the sights the weald has to offer and was a good way to get out in the sun.”

Standing with the eBikes we used
Standing with the eBikes we used

If you would be looking to buy a bike it would cost within the range of £1,000 to £10,000.

Bikes can also be hired for a half day £35 or £45 with the Centre’s main route taking riders through Balfour and Biddenden vineyards and other villages around Headcorn.

Marcus has won many awards for his tours including the 2022 Self-Guided eBike tour of the year from Lux Life Hospitality and the Corporate Vision’s Best self-guided tour packages for south east England.

The centre also provided eBikes to Sandi Toksvig and Jessica Hynes when filming her channel 4 show extraordinary escapes and has been visited by an unnamed ex-Arsenal player.

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