A CYCLE club has been thwarted in its attempts to recoup £90 from councils after a difficult ride through north Kent.

Six members of the St Alban's Forty Plus Cycling Club had already completed most of a 200-mile journey around the outside of the entire M25 when things fell apart as they approached Gravesend.

They first ran into difficulties crossing the A2, where extensive roadworks are under way.

Doug Nevell, 76, a retired engineer from St Albans, said: "The place was a mess, with the chalky soil getting all over our wheels and legs.

"And the tunnel we usually take was sealed and there were no signs of a diversion."

The riders were then forced to find an alternative route.

However, the real problem came about when they arrived in Gravesend and discovered the Tilbury ferry was not running.

One boat was awaiting repairs and the other had started taking on water a few days before.

A bus service had been organised to replace the ferry, taking passengers to the Dartford Tunnel to cross there.

But the bus driver said he was unable to take the bikes.

Instead, Mr Nevell and his team had to fork out £90 to hire a lorry to carry their bikes through the Dartford Tunnel.

On their return to St Albans, they wrote letters to Gravesham Council and Kent County Council (KCC) about their difficulties.

They were upset there had not been a suitable diversion marked out for the bridleway next to the A2.

But their main complaint was about the lack of provisions for cyclists crossing the Thames and they asked for compensation for having to hire the lorry.

Mr Nevell said: "Councils are trying to promote cycling as sustainable transport, so we ought not to be ignored."

The club received a response from both Gravesham and KCC saying they were unable to reimburse the £90.

Mr Nevell has undertaken the seven-day trip round the M25 for the past 10 years with a team from the club.

It is the first time the club has not succesfully completed the trip.

When asked if he would be do the ride next year, Mr Nevell said: "That remains to be seen."

One member of the team, 67-year-old Bill Forster from St Albans, was so incensed he wrote directly to the then leader of Gravesham Council, Councillor David Turner.

Cllr Turner responded to apologise for the difficulties the riders went through on May 12.

Mr Forster said: "In light of the Tour de France coming through Gravesham, the council has been publicising how cycle-friendly it is, but I beg to differ.

"This is why I contacted the council leader."

A Gravesham Council spokesman said: "We were sorry to hear of their problems.

"However, neither the ferry nor the roads are a borough council responsibility."

KCC responded to the club members' letters earlier this month.

It said it was contacting the road contractors building around the A2, reminding them they needed to maintain appropriate signs warning people of closures.

KCC also sent a letter explaining it was an unfortunate set of events which had led to the ferry service being unavailable but it was unable to guarantee a service and could not reimburse the club.