Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Bolney - 12th February 2017

The forecast was for continued perishing weather, and as there was a modicum of hills planned, I opted for the lily-livered approach. I loaded my bike and other accoutrements into my car, tried to ignore the temperature gauge (-1ºC) and turned the heater up to full. I used up my spare time (Get that Trex?) in FR car park listening to the radio and soaking up the heat. The correct time approached, I was almost ready, just pop on my overshoes..........Bugger. My butler had omitted to lay them out for me this morning. I rode almost to the shop, a distance of about 110 yards, and problem solved. I couldn’t feel my feet any more.

Graham was already there talking to Ron, and Sienna appeared just after me. Steve had sent his apologies due to having asked too much of his swollen ankle during the week, and apologies also from Trex who I believe had become entangled in his duvet whilst wondering whether to get up today. Best wishes to both of them.

As usual, Graham began the ascent of Priory Road looking as if he was popping round to the shops, while Sienna and I agreed that we wished that we had already warmed up, when we would both feel a little better. Having reached the top, we were soon diving down again, and whilst there was mercifully no ice in view, there was quite a lot of slimy mud about and due care was taken.

Now, as everybody knows, the thing to do at the bottom of the hill that is Twyford Lane is to select an appropriate gear ready for when you’ve crossed the ford and have to begin ascending again. Well maybe not everybody. Sienna, wash your mouth out. Once in the correct gear, off we all went again. Only about a quarter of a mile further on, another ford, another hill. No such error this time.

More ups, more downs, and soon we were approaching Ardingly. There is always the welcome sound of rushing water from a small waterfall in the trees there. It is just at the base of a bottom gear slope, and usually it is obscured by leaves. Not today, of course. I can’t think where it flows. Surely we were at the bottom already.

Next is the first of two long drops to Ardingly Reservoir. The first allows a good run-up before the grind up the other side. The second has a sharp bend at the bottom, forcing a slow down which prevents that happening, but instead one is rewarded with a view across an old mill pond, at the other side of which is a fine house, which on windless days is reflected in the water. I always remember Don when passing that way, as he was the one who first pointed out that view to me.

Further ups, further downs, and we came towards a village, the name of which I invited the others to pronounce. For absolutely ages I didn’t know how to pronounce it myself, until I was informed that for Slaugham one says “Slaffam”. Graham believed it was “Sloffam” and Sienna intoned something which made me think she had just got a fly caught in her throat. So, three differing opinions, and which, if any of us, is right? Answers please.

In the delightfully-named Warninglid we turned left, just failing to see an equally delightful small pond which is straight on. Before long that was forgotten, however, as we were getting near enough to smell the coffee, and then a short lane led us into the grounds of Bolney Vineyard. At the end of this you traverse an area covered in pebbles, with an optional dive over your handlebars if not careful enough. I only just stayed on.

Since I was last here, the café has been moved into a fine new premises, and there it was warm, had lovely food, and one could remove shoes and rub some life back into cold feet. Ahhh! There were even blankets, which Sienna took full advantage of, bless her. I treated myself to smoked salmon on top of scrambled eggs, yummy, Graham had all the rest of the food in the place, and Sienna treated herself to a cup of hot water. Can you believe it? It’s true!

Too soon we pulled our shoes back on and togged up for the onslaught home. Maybe it was just me, but for once it wasn’t freezing cold starting off again, like it usually is after lunch, and my feet could even feel the cold.

Graham was telling us about a sign which announced ‘World’s End’ not far ahead. I’d not heard of this, but sure enough, he childishly sped off to claim the sign and display his knowledge. The strange thing is, the sign was just outside the train station called ‘Wivelsfield’, not ‘World’s End’. Still stranger, the station is in Burgess Hill which already has it’s own station. Furthermore, you have to cross at least another mile of open country before arriving at the village of Wivelsfield.

I informed Graham that he was no longer a child, and should stop dashing about to claim town signs. Then at the far end of Slugwash Lane (How did that become so called, I wonder?), I dashed off to pass the Walstead sign first, and a little later the one announcing Horsted Keynes. Showed him. Incidentally, as anyone who can use Google will tell you, the name Horsted Keynes is a corruption of what, in Norman times, was Horstede Cahaignes, the latter being the name of a Norman chap who was given the village of Horstede. So there.

All too quickly we were at Wych Cross, from where there is just a couple of miles of fabulous descent to the car park where I possessed a heater which would soon be toasting my toes on the drive home, just after bidding farewell to Graham and Sienna.

John


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