Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Hadlow 21st August 2016

I hesitate to write a ride report this week, as having done so a couple of weeks ago, I was inundated by a compliment from one whose opinions I greatly admire. How could I possibly match those scribblings, how could I prove to the literary world that I, a humble cyclist, am in fact a genius, in addition to being extraordinarily talented, yet still modest? (Having re-read the preceeding lines, I feel that I may be in danger of selling myself short.).

Anyway, having arrived home from work at 1 am. today, it was with a certain amount of difficulty that I wrenched my aged body from underneath my plump duvet at 8 am. I was determined that, having missed a number of rides recently due to being at work, being too tired from being at work, having to go to work later, or just generally being old, today I was going to be there come what may, secure in the knowledge that I haven't got to go back to work again for another 8 days. Yippee.

I'd had the brainwave of intercepting the other pair en route, rather than going all the way to Forest Row, and having to ride back up Wall Hill. Thus I found myself waiting at the junction of Hollow Lane and Smithers Lane, (it doesn't matter, but you've all been there at least a dozen times), for the intrepid two to arrive. Now, once before and somewhere else whilst awaiting Graham, I thought I would pass the time profitably by counting the different species of plant which I could identify in the grass verge. Nerd, you may think, but I was surprised to single out 17 types that first time. This shorter time, I espied 10 sorts. Grass, obviously, holly, bramble, cuckoo pint, a fern and five others which I've seen before, but can't name. You will now be formulating an opinion of the fascinating life I lead. Thank the lord that I was then interrupted by female voices. Four luscious lovelies on bikes hove into view, and if I thought anything, it was probably 'Sod the plants', as I watched them ignore me and ride past into the distance. They were followed some minutes later by about 10 members from the Redhill CC, a bit later by a bloke I know who chose to pretend that he didn't know me, and then Martha and Graham came round the bend and pretended not to be struggling up the hill towards me. Martha was not too impressed when I informed her that I had thought at first that she was Steve. Insecure or what? It's only my eyesight. Steve was away on another of his jaunts, and poor old Trex has developed cellulitis after being bitten on the ankle. Get well soon, Trex.

Anyway, now I had someone to talk at, and made full use of the opportunity until it was explained to me that silence is golden. What does that mean? I utilised the period during which I was sulking to good effect, by beating Graham to the Cowden sign, followed by the Weller's Town and the Chiddingstone Causeway ones too.

It was just after this that an unfortunate flying insect met its doom hurtling past my larynx, causing me to cough a bit, and it to feel a whole lot worse than that. Graham showed not an ounce of sympathy for either of us, but simply questioned how on earth it could have flown past such a stream of hot air. I ask you. And this was followed shortly afterwards by a description of a couple of weeks ago when neither Martha nor I were out, and Graham was relieved that he could look forward to a quiet ride. That bloke!

Mind you, I began to see what he meant, as for an indeterminate period afterwards, we learnt about Martha's bad ankle, Martha's sister being unable to meet us at the lunch stop, Martha looking after her poorly father, Martha's husband and son both smoking, Martha's daughter being on Meridian Radio, and Martha's new bike having to have the front brake replaced. Then she took a breath. Oh Martha, I'm sorry, that's not fair. I was only joking. It was a bit later that you took the breath.

And so we arrived at Hadlow, where I was reminded for the umpteenth time, fairly, that this was the cafe where I pinched, stole, dodged paying for or pilfered a large cheese scone some years ago. I simply forgot, officer, I promise.

Breakfast stops being served at Hadlow at 12 noon. We got to the till at five past, and were told initially that unfortunately we were too late. Martha explained firmly to the terrified young waitress that we had been queuing since before noon, and therefore it should not be too difficult to make allowances for this fact. Thus we received three piping hot breakfasts from a quaking young lady not long afterwards. Well done Martha. She did ask us both if we thought she had been a bit harsh, after all. No, no, of course not Martha, we both mumbled into out chests.

We all enjoyed our breakfasts greatly, marred only slightly by the thought that we would soon be struggling home into a headwind. Fortunately, however, none of us seemed to find it as difficult as we'd expected.

One of the things which I remember from the return trip was discussing the current state of Kate's troublesome foot, and what is being considered as the latest treatment. It seems to involve lasers, vices, large pointy metal implements and lots of pain.

Another was the 3 of us coming within a whisker of an overtaking vehicle towing a caravan which was wider than it. Heart in mouth.

Yet another was eavesdropping on Graham explaining to Martha the advantages of titanium for bike frames. I remember hearing that it is very strong, so can be much slimmer, and always keeps its smooth lustre. I interjected that in that case, I should be henceforth re-named 'Titanium'. He instantly replied that the only bit which applied to me would be 'Tit'. Harsh, I thought.

Still another was riding past a huge insect walking along a kerb. I thought it must be a hornet, so returned to get a better look. It was, in fact, a very big bumble bee. I placed a pound coin near it for comparison, and swiftly took out my phone and tried to photograph the insect. The sun shone brightly onto the screen of my phone, and whilst trying to figure it out, the bee crawled onto my shoe and up my leg. Panicking slightly, well a lot actually, I stabbed at every icon on my phone which I could barely make out. Happily I was not stung, and I discovered on reaching home that I now have three short videos of the inside of my nostrils.

Parting for our separate journeys home, I marvelled at the joy of life with a bike.


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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