Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Wet and Dry - Gatwick and Reigate 30th March 2008

'Switch off the brain and switch on the legs', I was told, long ago. Good advice when it doesn't look good outside, when inside is warm, when another pot of tea can be easily made and so too can yet more toast. Just get on with it. Put on the kit. Take down the bikes. Start pedalling.

To the railway station, the morning's place of assembly for a ride to Reigate. So we knew where we were going to. And the route? Ah. Second rule: just follow the leader. And so we did, out of East Grinstead, through the quiet richnesses of Furnace Wood, to the back-roads which were 'somewhere in Surrey'. Along those back-roads, as along other such roads, we passed the single (large) houses and the settlements which seem far, far from the bustle, the bustle of East Grinstead, and Forest Row.

Water, water. On the roads, in the fields, running along the gullies. At times, the bikes made waves as we rode, all nine of us, through an extensive pool of water on the road. There were ponds in the fields. And, as we stood on a bridge, the flooded River Mole flowed beneath. Where will it all go, we wondered. Perhaps the sea will fill up. We talked about an Environment Agency long-term plan to let the sea cover a part of Norfolk. Ah, said one, a long time ago a coastal village slipped into the sea, but still returned two MPs for another hundred years or so.

We rode through the North Downs to Bletchingly, the large village with the wide main street, a part of the A25. What a fine place it would be to hold an annual fair or market. Clear the parked cars, close the street at both ends. Send the cars somewhere else. But let the cyclists through.

Past Nutfield Priory, on the ridge, where afternoon tea is served in a room which overlooks Redhill aerodrome, round the back of Redhill, passing the pub which commemorates Garibaldi, to Reigate and to Morrison's superstore, not to buy but to eat. As we ate, we heard about the great jumble sale which was to be held in Terminal 5. Suitcases. Clothes. All left behind. Bargains for all. Alas, it wasn't to be so.

Back along the back-roads to the back of Gatwick airport. In the sun. Under the aircraft as they took off. A snaking route through Crawley to the familiar onetime railway track. Cyclists, walkers, and a dog-in-boots. (Not often you see one of those.) To East Grinstead and dispersal. Forty-odd miles. In the wet, in the dry.


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