Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Balcombe 27th January, 2008.

John and Peter - Plaw Hatch Lane It is with great reluctance that I sit down here this Sunday evening and write this report about today's ride. This is because my time is precious now that I have rejoined the ranks of the working class. I am doing it, however, because a certain gentleman, and I use the term loosely, who has lately taken over the position of club webmaster, requested, nay, begged me to do so, knowing full well what a task it would be. Being the totally unselfish, and if I say it myself, modest man that I am, here goes.......

On a cracking, sunny morning, with the merest hint of chill in the air, I set off towards Forest Row. It felt good to be out, even though the legs were tired from the previous day's riding. Having ample time, I went up through East Grinstead's main road, avoiding looking at my reflection in the shop windows, for fear of wondering what that old bloke was doing riding my bike.

Not long after joining The Way, I was held up by a couple of selfish cyclists hogging the whole width of the track. They refused to give way, and dared me to try and get past them. What a cheek! However, as Steve and Christa were going to the same place as me, it seemed churlish not to settle down behind them and take it easy.

Outside the bike shop, there were, in turn, Ron, Gordon, Graham, Kate, Andrew, Zoë, Don, and at the last minute, Tony and Val. Off everyone went, up Priory Road, and as Andrew and I were the last to leave, we encountered Peter at the start of the hill pumping up his tyre. Peter made number 13, unlucky for some. He explained that he had started out late, and had only just discovered the lack of air.

Andrew got fed up waiting for me, becoming stronger every week, and by now leaving everyone else except his Dad behind him. So off he whizzed up the hill, and I found myself by the side of Christa. Now Christa missed a ride or two over Christmas and the New Year, and is feeling it a bit. I offered to talk at her whilst riding beside her to the top of the hill. Inexplicably she declined my generous offer and invited me to ride on alone and get out of her face. At least, that was the impression I got.

Tony, Val & co Ardingly Chilling Street is a joy at almost any time, but this morning, with the sun painting the countryside, the birds advertising their presence in the trees, and the sparse fluffy clouds scudding their way across the azure expanses of (That's enough poetic drivel for one article, now get on with it!.......Ed.)

OK. At some point along our route, I became engaged in conversation at a couple of other fellers. I passed my opinion that women are amongst, no, actually the strangest creatures on this earth. Why is it that, try as we might, no man can possibly understand them. Now, call me a sexist if you wish, but it seems to me that all the average bloke wants from a relationship with a woman is the occasional sex every 24 hours, food on the table if he comes in, and to be able to do more or less what he likes. Oh, and a shirt ironed when he needs it. Not much to ask, eh? Anyway, I stopped dreaming of Paradise and there I was suddenly cycling along the lovely sunny lanes of Sussex again. (Is that better, Ed?).(No!).

We stopped for a breather at some point, and Gordon, being beside me, remarked that my cycling top was exactly the same as his. True, or so I thought, until Val pointed out that although it was almost identical, I had three stripes around the collar and cuffs, whilst the inferior Gordon had only two, proving the fact that whilst I was a Sergeant, Gordon was only a Corporal. Of course, I had known this all along, but now I had the proof. I made a mental note not to gloat about this too much to anyone, although it didn't prevent me trying, in vain, to give Gordon the odd order or two.

I managed to sneak up on Zoë, and engage her in conversation before she realised it was me. I'd unfortunately forgotten that she had been absent for a while because she had had to undergo an unpleasant operation on one of her eyes. Now you all know I'm not in the least sexist from a couple of paragraphs ago, so just to rub it in, I publicly admit that I wouldn't have been able to stand the procedure that Zoë described to me. She didn't like it, but she is twice, at least, the person that I am, putting up with that.

Feeling as I did, ie a little jaded from the previous day, I was glad to hear from Tony that he had been working almost non-stop on his son's house for the last I-don't-know-how-long, and had lost quite a lot of the fitness he had shown last summer, when he was competing in triathlons. Oh good. However, why was it that he still made me look like I was standing still every time we had to tackle the slightest gradient? Except for the time when we hurtled down a long, long descent, bottomed out, and then I left him behind when he'd forgotten to change down in the excitement. What joy!

Do you know the prolonged zoom down from Ardingly to the reservoir? Well, when I reached the bottom of it, and espied most of the others away up the other side, I found myself more or less beside Don. Now Don, as those of you who are fortunate enough to know him realise, is a very observant and sensitive chap. So it was that at the bottom of the descent where everyone else had hurtled past, Don invited me to retrace my path with him for a short way. Knowing what he is like, I willingly obliged, and he pointed out to me an extraordinary view of the dwelling at the lowest part of the valley. It was bathed in sunlight. There was not a breath of wind, so the lake was as smooth as my chat-up lines. The house was reflected perfectly in the lake, and all was right with the world. An estate agent's dream. A new career for Don, maybe. Or maybe a male model. Why? Because the intrepid man was the only one amongst us who was wearing shorts. In January. I know he has the most impressive legs, especially for a man of sixty-eleven, but when he pointed out his long socks and asked me to identify the country to which he belonged, 'British' was the only possible response, and the only one he was proud to admit was true. I would be able to pick him out on any foreign beach.........

The café at Balcombe does the most satisfying food, and during the all-day breakfast, I wondered where Peter was. I'd assumed he'd clipped off early to go to one of his tea dances, or to fulfill an assignation with one of his female admirers. However, it transpired that he had had a puncture and despite his yells to us as we continued into the distance, we continued continuing into the distance. (I'm warning you......Ed.). Anyway, puncture repaired, he finally joined us all at the tea room, and then left early, maybe for one of those aforementioned reasons.

Duly satisfied, the rest of us paid our bills and departed towards home. Christa and Zoë turned off and took a shorter route back. And then there were ten.

I was glad to see at one point, the lively Andrew try to catch his Dad up a long gradient, but despite all his efforts, fail. Hah hah! Mind you, it won't be long at all before the whippersnapper will be able to do what he likes with us all. Meantime, though.............

On the way home, Kate was heard to moan about the uneven surface of the Forest Way. What!,moaning again?, she was asked. (By me.). Actually, in all weathers, summer or winter, rain or gales, Kate comes out. To me, she can moan all she likes.

Graham offered to buy all those left a coffee at Java and Jazz in Forest Row. 'It must be my turn to buy' said he. 'Yes, that's what we've all been saying for weeks now', replied someone else. (Not fair). Val had decided to go her own way there, but became stranded alone with a puncture. Tony, the White Knight in Shining Armour set off to the rescue, and we all met a short while later at the said café. Val kindly bought us all another coffee. It was then that I learned that Zoë had suffered a horrendous crash when she was almost home, having parted from Christa. What on earth had happened? How was she?

The author in Java & JazzThe Chadwicks and I made our way back along The Way to East Grinstead, and by chance, when we arrived at the other end and were saying our goodbyes, along came Zoë and Steve on their way back from the hospital in Zoë's daughter's car. She was quite shaken up, with a couple of nasty lumps and bleeding too. Her eye was giving her concern too. Not surprised. Soon her daughter drove her off home where she wuld be able to rest and be looked after.

We all wish you well, Zoë, take good care, and get well a.s.a.p.


If you took part in a ride, why not write a report? The more florid the language, the more inflated the hyperbole, the more tumescent the innuendo, the greater your chance of winning the FRBC Prize for Original Plagiarism.

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