Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Edenbridge, Not Handcross - 26th October 2008.

I know they're not always right, but this morning they were. Good old Met. Office. As an ex-Boy Scout, I was prepared to wake up ready for anything, and so was not too disappointed to have to drag on my supposedly-but-not-in-fact-waterproofs. Mercifully it was quite mild. In my experience, there is nothing worse than wet and cold. Unless you have to listen to Ron at the same time. Today it was just the wet and Ron. OK then.

I'd looked out of the window as usual, seen the drizzle, gone out into the garden in minimal clothing (control yourselves, ladies) to gauge the temperature, and then selected exactly the correct clothing to keep me snug, but still display a suitably understated style. (John, you're starting to ramble again).

Riding past the end of the road where the Chadwicks usually emerge, I glanced in that direction, knowing that the two parents were away in Derbyshire, but wondering if the young Andrew would be there. Then, considering the rain, realised that he probably had a recurrence of his back trouble, you know, being unable to prise it from the mattress, as teenagers often are.

Almost at the bike shop, I noticed a couple of riders in front of me turn into the square, and arriving just after them, greeted Christa, who had come to see us all off before carrying out Grandmother duties, and Pat, a friend of Don's. I'd met Pat before, some time ago, and she explained that she had come down from Milton Keynes last evening in order to see Don and do the ride today, before returning up the M1 this evening. She told me how she'd selected her lightest bike in order to be able to keep up with us, as she hadn't been doing much cycling recently, but what with the weather, wished she had brought her sturdier touring machine. This was mainly because she'd had a nasty fall about a year ago, and still didn't feel 100% confident riding in the rain and on slippery roads. Those of us who have had a fall know that it can a) hurt, and b) take a while to get over. Pat didn't make too much of it though, and just got on with it, as some people have the capacity to do.

Don arrived shortly afterwards, wearing shorts and boasting, quite rightly, that if you've got it, you should flaunt it, referring to his muscular, manly lower extremities. Ron then arrived, and immediately observed that he had hoped no-one was going to be there, so he could go back home to a nice cup of tea. Now he would have to lead us on the ride.

The decision was made by Chairman Ron that we would abandon all thoughts of Handcross, and instead do a small loop to Edenbridge where he had consumed a very nice bacon sandwich in a café not long ago. Now, I don't have breakfast before going out usually, my own fault I know, but having mentioned a bacon sandwich, Ron could've got me to ride just about to York. My juices were stirred.

Ron suggested riding along the Way to Hartfield, but a small rebellion didn't want to get too muddy, so the road was the majority preferred route. Thus Coleman's Hatch came and went, as did Upper Hartfield, then through Hartfield and past Steve's place, across the Forest Way and first left along a lane off of which is a very nice café, where a couple of years ago I had the privelege to witness a superb row between a man and his wife. Then on to cross the A264 at Holtye. I'm not entirely sure which route we took from there, because I was engaged in conversation with Pat. Ron could not stand this, obviously, as he very ungallantly suggested that Pat had proved to be more than a match for me at talking! The bounder!

Up, down, up and down as usual, and I for one was becoming a tad esurient. (Look it up!)(If you are going to dredge words out of the dictionary you should make sure you use them correctly - Ed). Thoughts of grilled tranches of cured pigs thigh between slices of baked fermented wheat sustained me. (Come on then, Ed. Tell me to get on with it, in English)(If a comment from me could succeed where the education system failed I'd go into teaching - Ed). Into Edenbridge we finally emerged, and cycled the full length of the main road. Unsurprisingly for a damp Sunday, the purveyor of said food was closed, as were all the other likely-looking establishments . So we entered a pub which was advertising I can't remember what now, but we went in anyway, were welcomed, and we all had tea or coffee and jam scones. I don't care, I didn't want a bacon sarnie anyway.

I've said it a million times, I know, but the worst bit is pulling your damp clothes on after a stop, and coaxing the aged muscles to work again before they've had a chance to warm up. But that is what we eventually had to do, so that is what we eventually did. But it must be said that however uncomfortable that part of a ride is, it is soon over, and before long we were all once more pedalling happily, and rejoicing that Graham was away this week.

We briefly stopped at one point for some reason, and I distinctly heard Ron explain to us all which route we were intended to take. Off went Don like a man possessed and took another route which he deemed more suitable. And so it was that we arrived, Ron, Pat and myself, at the top of Sandhawes Hill in East Grinstead, relying on the miracle which is the mobile telephonic apparatus to locate the errant Don. (I can never ride anywhere near Sandhawes Hill without remembering a race I was in many years ago, during which, having zoomed up there rather slower than most of the others in the race, I put my head down and determined to catch the proper racers, only to fail to bend round to the right in the same way that the road did. I landed head over heels in a holly tree with a bent bike. The bike frame had to go to the tip, but that holly tree is still there to this day).

Ron, mindful of his bad back, made his way home to Forest Row, while I gallantly accompanied Pat back to Don's garage, where we damply awaited his arrival which happened soon enough to interrupt our conversation. Happy Days.

John.


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