The sun was hazy but distinct, warming the hedgerows as a light breeze pushed fluffy wisps of cloud across a swimming pool blue sky.
Regrettably, it was an hour and a half after the Club Peloton Autumn Ride had finished. The ride itself was properly wet and windy. But it was completed in high spirits and 45 minutes ahead of schedule by 39 riders, only one of them forgetting to bring a helmet. (A spare was found for her - unfortunately, it resembled a canoeist's helmet, though that might have been appropriate to the conditions, as A Models managing director Christian Spencer-Davies was quick to point out. A canoe and paddle might have been helpful, too.)
Despite the weather, there were no drop-outs on the day. Only two punctures on the road, and a couple of new brake blocks after some testing descents. "It went really, really well," said Club Peloton events manager Rhian Fletcher. "It's always a bit of a worry when it's wet because you don't want accidents. I had to re-route slightly to avoid some potentially dodgier routes because of all the water, and we changed a road yesterday because of roadworks.
"When it's sunny we do designated climbs [where riders take hills at their own pace, faster cyclists waiting at the top for the peloton to regroup], but when it's wet everyone has to wait around in the cold so we did the hills together today and it went well, the group staying together."
Most of the riders were training for the 2019 Legal and General Cycle to MIPIM. For some, the 68km route was a rude awakening. It looped south from Hever Castle in Kent, across the High Wield, around Crowborough and back through the Ashdown Forest, and it was lumpy. No big hills, but 1,200m of climbing, with strong gusts of wind and fairly constant rain until the last hour.
"It was a tough ride," said Riëtte Oosthuizen, planning partner at architect HTA and veteran of all-woman ride PedElle. She is gearing up for next year''s ride to MIPIM. "I'm not really ready for a ride like this, it is just week two of my training. It's a good reminder that I have a long journey ahead.
"But I would definitely recommend these Club Peloton rides. You get to know the people you are riding with and everyone is really supportive - much more than in my cycling club. The whole thing of 'we don't leave people behind', cycling clubs are not like that. I have friends who don't work in property who say 'why can't we have something like Club Peloton?'"
It's amazing the difference a year of cycling can make. A year ago John Robertson Architects project director Kuros Sharshar took on the Club Peloton Autumn Ride after picking up his bike the previous evening, and never having ridden more than 20km. "The weather this year was much worse but the high at the end was much better," he told Velocity today. "I went home last year and I went straight to sleep for seven hours. Tonight I'm going out dancing. I've had a great time."
Gareth Atkinson, director at Civic Engineers, was benefiting from early planning: his training started almost a year ago. "I rode this year in February with Club Peloton but I had only been on a bike once or twice before. This winter I'm going to plough on through. I've got a turbo trainer set up in the shed. I'm going to keep cycling into work [in London] from Sevenoaks - that's 70km a day and I'll do that twice a week, and then get out at the weekend and do a bit more hill training because that's my weakness.
"It was a bit harder today than I expected, which is good because now I know I've got to do a bit more. Actually I met Robert Romanis from AHMM today and it turns out he lives round the corner from me so we can go out and train together."
Twelve weeks and five days to go...