Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Hassocks - 26th March 2017

Dawn brought us a sunny, but chilly, if windy morning. The clocks had gone forward at 2 am. and it was Mothering Sunday. It was the opportunity to take out of my second bedroom/workshop/junk room, my best bike. The one I had to repair after a particularly nasty fall a handful of years ago. I scooted along on it, and in no time arrived at my bus shelter in FR, where I sat in the sun. I was fiddling around with my bike computer, trying to set the pace at which I was going to look magnificent today, when my name was called from across the road by a female voice. Unless Gordon has a problem. Wearily I looked up, as being summoned by female voices is a regular occurrence for me, in my dreams of course, and there were Gordon, Zoë, Christine and Sally. They were waiting to start their own ride to Groombridge, Groombridge Place Tea Rooms in fact, a venue which seemed impossibly posh to me. Christine explained that it was on account of it being a Mothers’ Day treat. Especially as she had had to bake her own Mothers’ Day cake, coffee and pistachio. If anyone reading this has never tasted one of Christine’s cakes, then your life has not been worth living.

We all remarked on the chill in the air and how glad we were to be fully clothed, when Trex appeared with hardly anything on. I pretended not to notice, whilst the ladies all made various comments which will not be reported here. Trex attention seeking, I call it. It is quite some time since I have seen a lady swoon at anyone except myself. I was so taken aback, that it wasn’t until almost a minute later, when Graham arrived, that I realised that Trex had actually arrived on time. I only noticed this when Trex accused Graham of being 45 seconds late. Unfortunately it was true. Let no-one remember this.

The ladies and Gordon departed for their ride, and shortly afterwards Steve arrived. Lo and behold! He was on a full carbon, Cervelo bike, with electric gears. It was still very new to him, and he was still getting used to it. It looked fantastic.

After a chat about the new bike, we all left for the climb up Priory Road, and it was very soon when we noticed that despite Steve’s new bike and my best bike, Trex had already left us all well behind. Graham’s excuse was that he had hosted a social gathering at his house last evening, and was suffering the after affects. I had no such excuse, as I have no mates at all. Steve is such a gentleman that I suspect he just let Trex win to please him. Stout chap.

At the top of the hill, I just had enough breath to tell the others that I had seen a red kite a couple of days ago, not far from Reigate. Graham added that not long ago he had seen one, just up the road from where we were going, in fact, at the top of Chilling Street. We didn’t see any there today, though, but we did see loads of sheep with their lambs, and daffodils out, and appreciated the view across the sun-covered valley.

I was bowling along merrily, when Trex came up with some ruse to make me stop. It was too trivial for me to remember now, but at the time I was piqued. “Right then”, I interjected, “if that’s your game, goodbye!” I changed into a high gear and left the poor sap far behind as I made full advantage of my best bike, my physical superiority, and Trex’s abject lack of ability. Or anything else, for that matter.

We turned right past Horsted Keynes station, and soon saw a notice advertising the forthcoming arrival of The Flying Scotsman on the Bluebell Railway line. Steve and I discussed it, and agreed that it will be really worth a visit to see it, although all the tickets for riding on the train have already been sold. We then enjoyed the rest of the ride up to the Ardingly road, savouring the forthcoming event.

Not too long later, Graham and Trex passed the Ardingly sign first. Incredibly childish, I always feel. Grown men too. And then came the longish drop down after the Ardingly turn off past Ardingly College, where the grass verge on the right had the most incredible display of daffodils and narcissus in prime condition. Superb.

Have you ever been out on your best bike, or just having cleaned your normal bike, been obliged to ride through a huge puddle, or along a stony lane? Well firstly, Steve and I being out on our best machines, felt obliged to ride extra slowly through some surface water to protect them. And soon afterwards, had to ride along a stony, potholed track, towards Cuckfield, where, happily, I passed the sign first. I followed this by the Whiteman’s Green sign, only to be informed by the petulant Trex that that one didn’t count, as it was coloured green. Excuse me? What page of the excuse book does that appear on? Really.

We continued, and I decided that it was much more important to enjoy the ride, and so took in the views of the blossoms on the trees, and magnolias, white ones too, and forsythia, celandine and wood anemones. Road signs, I ask you.

At some point, I fail to remember where, we did a downhill race, and although it was mine by rite, Graham snuck past me just at the end, and then Trex snuck past him to win. Steve thought it was juvenile, as did I, and let the others get on with it.

Almost at our destination, the Hassocks sign was next. Now everyone knows that this is my sign. I let Graham and Trex think they were in the lead. Actually they were, but my plan was to let them slow down at the main road just beyond which was the sign, and use my momentum to whizz me past the sign after they had had to slow down to check the traffic. I didn’t take into account their irresponsible failure to care for their own livelihoods, and so relinquished my prize.

Trex, already on a high, was overwhelmed by the sight of his favourite waitress in a new, bright orange shirt, but did a sterling impression of trying not to notice. Graham, Steve and I, however, excused his comparative youth, and we all enjoyed a hearty breakfast.

We discussed the programme about otters which we had recently heard on the radio, the latest coverage of Formula 1 car racing, and how superbly I was riding my bike lately, as I remember it, anyway, and then we had to leave.

On the way home, Trex looked over his shoulder on the approach to the Westmeston sign, to see a honed athlete speeding towards it. The aforementioned honed athlete, for I shall remain nameless, detected an oath unbecoming to the issuer, as the aforementioned athlete sped past the sign. Let’s say no more about it. Except that he was a terribly bad loser. And I was a very deserving winner.

Slugwash Lane. As we plodded along there, Trex recounted how when he was out on his second ride with our club, another cyclist had joined the group, and somehow turfed Trex off his bike. Well, I wasn’t there, but well done to that rider is all I have to say.

I breezed up the rest of Slugwash Lane on my own, knowing that the Walstead sign wasn’t far beyond, and claimed it for myself. As the other laggards came past, not one of them mentioned my prowess. No matter.

Approaching the Horsted Keynes sign, Graham cheated his way past it, and Trex was heard to mention jelly babies, which, as you all should know, are a staple diet of Trex’s. Unfortunately, he hadn’t bitten the heads off of enough of them to ward off ‘the knock’, and he had soon disappeared. After a while of waiting, I went back to see if I could gloat at him, but no sign. I couldn’t get a signal on my phone either, so went back to Graham. Now my phone worked, and Trex explained that he was going to make his own way home. He really should sort out his eating habits.

At the top of Priory Road Steve left us for his home, and Graham and I were all set to zoom down Priory Road. Graham’s gear cable had decided to split asunder, however, and I saw this as my opportunity to take unfair advantage to the bottom of the hill. Hooray. All of a sudden, though, my bike began to make a hugely loud screeching noise, and I had to come to a halt. Graham had had the same situation before, and diagnosed it immediately. I was robbed, but pleased that he didn’t charge me for the diagnosis.

We parted at Forest Row, and I limped home to my supper. I have since discovered that so did everyone else. Yippee.

John


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