It is 1 o’clock in the morning, it’s minus 3°C and I’m in bloody Bognor. I only agreed to change my duty as the boss said he’d get me back to Horsham by taxi, and it isn’t here.
Well, it came after only another 25 freezing minutes, so I was back to Horsham by 10 past 2, another 5 minutes to scrape the ice off of the car and break the icicle off by dose, and I was back home and in bed by 3am.
Not many minutes later I had finished, and made my way to the top of the hill. No sign of Don. Since I had promised Christa faithfully that I would look after him, and had lost him after no more than about 100 yards, I was not a little disconcerted. A left turn and a short whizz to the end of Hurst Farm Road should do it, I thought, but still no Don. “Blimey, he’s gone up West Hill already”, was what occurred to me, so going much faster than I’d intended, attacked the second hill of the day, not even having gone a mile yet. It was then that two things came into my mind. Firstly, I am nowhere near as fit as I should be, and secondly, the temperature has climbed considerably this morning, and I don’t need several of these layers on.
Don was back at his house, with
one shoe on. Don’t ask, I’ll tell you. Don had taken a head start to get warmed
up, and gone in the opposite direction to the one I’d taken. Approaching the
end of Dunnings Road, and nearing the top of the
hill, he had realised that he was unable to take his foot out of his pedal, and
fearing the worst, had mounted the pavement
and come to
He was standing there, totally unfazed when I returned to hear the whole story. I set about sorting out the problem, when a lovely neighbour of Don’s rushed in, having heard over the fence the words ‘fallen off’. She must know Don well. On this occasion, however, he had just been replying to me on the phone that he hadn’t fallen off, so that was alright.
Neighbour having done her stuff, she departed. I had by now determined that the problem had been with Don’s shoe and not the bike, so while he sorted out another pair, I quickly rang Christa who answered in a panic. “It’s alright, Christa, no problem. We had a mechanical, but we’re on our way”. She sounded mightily relieved.
From then on it was all plain sailing. Don set off again up Nightingale Close, and we headed straight for the A22, Don pointing out the saviour junction box on the way. Hartfield road followed, and we chatted and laughed when we could ride abreast, except when the breath was scarcer climbing Shepherd’s Hill, you know, the one than goes up from Coleman’s Hatch past the church. And before we knew it, we had arrived at the Dorset Arms, where a few bikes were locked up outside, and a lovely young choir was gathered round the door singing Christmas carols.
As far as I could tell, we all had a fine Christmas lunch, lots of chatter and loads of laughs, and then Ron was presented with a card and a collage of photographs to thank him for all his hard work forming the FRBC and arranging our rides for many years. Thank you Ron, very much.
Bills were paid, goodbyes were said, and Don and I set off for home. Soon we had need of the lights we had on our bikes as dusk fell. Don seemed to be riding briskly, so much so that when we reached Forest Row, he suggested going up Wall Hill, “to see how far up I can get”. I hadn’t bargained for that, but up we went, and without wavering, reached the top.
All that remained now, was the mainly downhill stretch to Don’s house, more tea, more laughs, and a journey to Christa’s with a collection of more of Don’s belongings to be stored at her house. But that is another story...........