Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

High Beeches - 7th September 2008

Yesterday I had been out with another group. Yes, I know I am a traitor, but they were the only ones going out on a Saturday, and I had the day off. I came off my almost new winter bike twice, had a puncture and received a thorough, and I mean thorough, soaking into the bargain. I had mended my spare tube when I got home, WD40'd my chain and front and rear gear mechs, and put my sodden clothes through a washing machine and tumble dryer cycle. I had even gone to bed early too. You see, Ron had last Wednesday informed me politely that I was expected to organise this Sunday's ride.

So, suitably prepared for anything, (well almost), I was out on the road again, heading for the bike shop, when who should I espy in front of me but the childish Graham. 'I'll show him', I thought, in a very mature way, and proceeded to race up behind him, and at the crucial moment, whizz past and claim the Forest Row sign. I know this is becoming tedious to read about, so I'll try my best not to mention these little forays into competition mode again. After all, not everyone, er, I mean no-one else is interested.

Andrew was already outside the shop, and Graham arrived after me, (oops, sorry!), soon followed by Peter, then Kate. Just when we were wondering if he'd gone up to London with the others to see the start of the Tour of Britain, along came Ron too. After the inevitable chat, during which Andrew informed me that he has been successful in his application to Crawley College, and starts on Friday, (brilliant, Andrew, and well done!), someone enquired of me "Well, where are we going then?". 'Oh, blimey, it's down to me', I remembered, so I indicated the climb up Priory Road and thereafter along to Sharpthorne. We turned left at The Intrepid Fox pub, (where, incidentally, Ron later mentioned that he'd been the previous evening, celebrating the 40th. birthday of his son). We proceeded via Highbrook and Ardingly, past Borde Hill Gardens, where Peter suggested a detour along a track behind the Gardens car park, and past Lullings Farm, back onto my intended route. He assured me that although it was a bit pot-holey, it wasn't muddy, and it cut off the dip down and climb out of quite a deep valley. That was OK by me, and so it proved to be as he said. Well done Peter, and thankyou. Kate related how, when she was a girl, she and others used to use that route sometimes, and were usually caught and told off by the owners. We blokes all puffed our chests out and dared anyone to stop us. Luckily for us no-one tried.

Because of the uncertain weather, and not knowing how tired various people would be, I had planned for several alternative stops. As it turned out, this paid off, because after Whitemans Green and Warninglid, (where we stopped to admire the lily pond and the stone bridge over it), we'd had enough, and we cut off a section and headed via Slaugham for High Beeches near Handcross. I hadn't realised 'til recently that not only is this a very nice tea rooms, but behind it there is a several-acre garden, which I have now decided that I must definitely visit one day. Anyway, almost a mile from there, Ron and I found ourselves slightly behind the others, and although we saw them ahead of us turning into the entrance, we decided to go past and enter via the back way which is far more cyclist-friendly. Thus, not only did we arrive before them, and were the first customers of the day, but we had ordered our food, paid for it, chosen a table, received our hot drinks and made a phone call to see where they were, before they arrived. So Ron and I settled down to a bowl of hot leek and potato soup each whilst they were still choosing. Very nice it was too. (Being unadventurous types, they all chose the same as us). I was a bit miffed that Graham indicated that for the second week in a row, I had finished my food before anyone else, this being unusual, he said, as I usually talk too much. Moi?

I offered everyone some alternative routes back home, and before long I was regaled with 99 opinions about what we should do. No, don't like that way, it's a main road, no, don't like that way either, too hilly, and that one's not hilly enough and that one's too busy. Sorry, everyone, I thought that this week I was the chosen one, and therefore I was in charge. Obviously not. Just wait 'til I find you on my train without a valid ticket. Huh! (When you are the leader you are supposed to lead, not ask everybody's opinions at ever junction - Ed)

I had been wondering what that annoying noise was all morning. No, it wasn't Graham after all, because Andrew pointed out to me that one of the stays on my back mudguard was loose. Must've happened on one of my falls yesterday. Anyway, Andrew fixed it in a jiffy, and no more annoying noise in my ear. If you don't count Graham of course.

There was the merest suggestion of rain on the way back home, but luckily it didn't materialise. As we approached East Grinstead, Andrew and I twisted Ron's arm, saying that if he bought us a hot drink each at Java and Jazz, we'd accompany him home to FR, whilst Graham escorted the lovely Kate straight home, as she had done enough for the day. Unlike last week, we arrived in good time, and also got the comfy chairs. Previously, Andrew had bought himself a racing vest which he had worn last week, and it didn't fit after all. So Ron negotiated the swap of said vest for the price of a large hot chocolate. Andrew, not having yet learned the art of chivalry, drank down the hot chocolate and then said that it was no deal! Who on earth brought that boy up?

So I didn't feel in the least guilty when I trounced him to the East Grinstead sign on the way home.


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