Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Oxted - 29th January 2017

I’ve been going a bit better lately, and hoped it’d continue this morning. I retired just over a couple of weeks ago, and have caught up on my sleep. I’ve hired a butler, so no longer do menial chores, and therefore have no excuse for feeling disappointingly jaded on my way to FR.

I took up my usual position in my bus shelter and rested my eyes. I was very politely aroused from my reverie by Graham, and was informed that he wasn’t aware if anyone else would be coming today. However, a lack of text messages from those who would be crying off was a good sign. And so it turned out.

Having returned to the bike shop across the road we were soon joined by Martha and then by Sienna and then after what seemed like another Cretacious Era, by Trex. The five of us rejoiced in the distinct lack of ice on the roads. All of us outdoorsy types will have been very wary of it for the last week or so. A bloke I know is still in hospital with a broken pelvis because of it.

Graham and the two ladies were all sporting bright yellow jackets which stood out terrificly as we made off towards Hartfield. Sienna, Martha and Trex had all been absent last week, but didn’t seem to show any after effects as we toiled up Shepherd’s Hill towards Upper Hartfield. Anyway, none of us cared about that once we were careering down into Hartfield, where we were greeted by a smiling Steve. So now we were six. Brilliant.

Back past Steve’s house we turned into Butcherfield Lane, a particularly nice ride I always feel, and soon we made use of the drop down into Cowden, me more than most, because I powered past the sign before anyone else. I hadn’t expected to be able to do that today, but still felt OK. We turned left in Cowden, just before the church. I was hoping that the bells would be ringing as they sometimes are as we pass, but not this morning.

Most of us congratulated ourselves on the slightly higher temperature today, made even more comfortable by our respective wise choices of clothing, especially leg coverings. Trex, however, spent an inordinately lengthy time whining about how he didn’t have time to put any on over his shorts, and wished he had. I can’t speak for the others, but the more he went on, the more snug I felt.

Just along the road from Cowden, you may remember that there is a short lung-burster, at the top of which one is rewarded by a lovely view across the Eden valley as far as the North Downs, and then another drop down before crossing a main-ish road to Markbeech. I feel I ought to point out here, for the sake of record, that it was I who passed the sign for this village first, even if Trex almost burst a blood vessel trying to deprive me of my prize. The juvenile. An interesting fact for any of you who has nothing else in your life, is that this sign announces Mark Beech, whereas the Ordnance Survey map refers to Markbeech. Now read on. If you aren’t feeling particularly fit, and are required to cycle up to Markbeech from Hever, you’re in for a bit of punishment. Luckily, today it was our lot to freewheel practically the whole way in the other direction, during which I thanked my lucky stars.

Once past the castle, which I must get around to visiting one of these days, I set about claiming, firstly, the Four Elms sign, swiftly followed by the one for Pootings. A strange name, I grant you, but they all count, even if, as in this case, I didn’t know it was there until almost past it, when I simultaneously heard from Trex a loud oath which did him no credit.

More pleasant lanes followed, until we had to cross the lights at the A25. Graham and I crossed first, and needed to wait for the others until the lights changed again. I decided to spend the short time nipping 100 yds. forward where I had noticed a handy sign saying ‘Limpsfield Village’. I suppressed a gloat whilst Graham accused me of being the lowest of the low. Maybe, but I was feeling a whole lot better than I did at the beginning of the day.

We were all glad to arrive at Morrison’s for our breakfast. Sienna met one of her friends unexpectedly and had a quick chat, then we all entered to find that the coffee machine was out of order. No matter, hot chocolate does just as well. But then all our breakfasts got a bit mixed up with someone else’s table. They arrived though, not long after. We felt better when Martha pointed out the rain outside. We’d missed it. We felt better still when it stopped. Sienna only had a cup of hot water and nothing to eat. Martha had a breakfast which she couldn’t finish and the rest of us polished off our various meals in between putting the world to rights. During this spell, Martha enquired of Graham if today had been a special ride as there were no uphills to speak of. Yes, we agreed, we want hills. Mistake. Our jocularity will soon be punished, I fear.

As is usual, it was a tad cold as we started off, but I selfishly didn’t mind too much, as we were going to go right past my home, so I was going to stop there. Apart from a few drops, the rain held off, thankfully.

Still feeling good, I cruised past the Crowhurst sign, refusing to be caught, and then spent some time intricately describing the existence of the old yew tree in the grounds of that village’s church. Feeling very patronizing and wise, I finally finished my story. “Yes, I know”, replied Sienna.

Down the road I had arrived home. “Anyone for tea and bikkies at my place?” I offered. A bit of humming and hah-ing took place before a polite refusal. I tried to look unhurt as I remembered the amount of time I had spent hoovering and dusting, and scraping the mould off of my cups. Sod you lot. I’ll eat all the biscuits myself.

I berated Graham for having claimed the Lingfield sign, and Sienna reminded me that she had claimed the Coleman’s Hatch sign at the beginning of the day.

Oh well, you’re still a great bunch of guys, I’m home, and I’ve got a bottle of beer and seventeen packets of biscuits to get through.

Life’s still good.

John


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