Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

An alarming encounter and a lakeside lunch - Dorking area 8th June 2008

As the main assembly was to be at East Grinstead station, there was time for breakfast on the patio, in the sun. Time for a second piece of toast and marmalade, and more tea, before the slow, short ride to the station. There were two new bikes to be admired, one a stately take-you-and-your-bags-round-the-world and the other a leaner, sharper machine. One would be going to France, the other would not (although later on there was the offer of 'Five pounds a day and I'll carry your panniers').

The ten, assembled, the ride began along the familiar Way. Crawley Down. To the road which descends to Furnace Wood. Ahead were three horses on one of which the rider held one end of a lead whilst the other two ends were looped round the collars for two short-legged dogs. Riders, horses, and dogs. We passed companionably.

And we turned inwards as a big, black 4x4 came round the corner in front of us, its wheels on either side of the line in the middle of the road. It was closely followed by a second. They roared by. A lucky escape. It would not have been unusual for one of us, for any cyclist, to have been riding quickly down the road, close to the centre of the road. The first vehicle and the cyclist would have touched each other, would have collided.

We waited at the entrance to Furnace Wood. No other cyclists appeared. We rode back. There had been an accident? There had not. But there were horses and dogs which had been frightened. One of our number had almost been struck. The thundering black vehicle had passed frightenly close. Yes, the incident was reported to the police, to no effect that we know of.

Sobered, we rode through the peace of Furnace Wood, through Domewood, along a byway in Surrey, the first of the byways in Surrey. Ten of us, in the sun, cycling amiably one after the other. Along the way, we stood aside whilst a farm vehicle went by and then speculated on the age of the driver of the following vehicle. Somewhere between eight and 12 was the general view. Doing a job, driving a vehicle, on a Sunday morning.

During the outward ride, as we know, spirits are high. The day, the ride is beginning. The sense of release from the usual cares is strong. The pleasure of the bike, of cycling is there to be felt. And so the miles passed. The new round-the-world bike carried its rider calmly in a well-bred fashion; the new road bike responded directly to the pressure on the pedals. No untoward sounds. Just the swish of the tyres.

Still, by the time we had ridden 25 miles we were conscious that perhaps, just perhaps, it was time for tea. Maybe it was time for more than just tea. And so it was that with 30 miles under the wheels, in a manner of speaking, we turned into the café by the lake.

Some like it hot; others like it in the shade. And so it was. In the sun, in the shade there were orders for remarkably big breakfasts and for plain old big ones. Still, you could always rely on the Sconeman, he who can ride all day on just a scone (and who is thinking of taking some to France where, as you know, scones are hard to come by). And, meanwhile, the fisherfolk fished, the surface of the water remained still.

We rode through the after-lunch hour. We exchanged the byways for the busy roads, the countryside for the towns. We wiggled and we waggled. We returned to familiar territory, to the entirely familiar Worth Way, to East Grinstead station. The ride was over.

Forty-five companionable miles of cycling. For some, a preparation for the French trip; for all another Sunday ride had been accomplished. The more one cycles, the more one cycles. It's the thing to do, in company, on Sunday.

Many thanks to our leader.

A coda to the incident of the black 4x4 which came dangerously round that bend. An extreme display of bad driving. Yes, time and again, a driver comes through a space when it would have been prudent to wait, to stop and let the cyclist come through. How hard it seems to be for some drivers to stop, to stop. Cyclists are soft-bodied and bruise easily. They are prone to wobbles. The driver who comes through is making no allowance for error or for mis-chance. I hope that when cyclists become drivers they remain cyclists.

Don.


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