Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Holmes Hill - 7th May 2017

You may notice that this report is somewhat late. This is because I am now retired. Yes, I know that one is supposed to have all the time in the world at last, but those of you who are already in a similar state will testify that time seems to have become a rare commodity. I won’t pretend that there aren’t periods which involve sitting in a chair for a long while staring vacantly into space with a thin sliver of dribble on the chin, or lying with eyes tightly shut, dreaming of Marilyn Monroe, and with an even larger amount of dribble. But enough of that. Here it finally is.

In the absence of Graham, who was killing himself in Wales, I leapt into his virtual shoes and chose a couple of possible rides for the day. The shorter of the two involved climbing Toy’s Hill the hard way, so the longer, but flatter was agreed upon. I had only waited alone at the bike shop for about 60 seconds when Steve arrived. A couple of minutes later, a young-ish rider zoomed by, and Steve told me that he’d shortly before beaten the youngster up a long-ish climb. Competitiveness doesn’t leave an old racing man easily. Steve was in shorts too, a decision which hadn’t suited me on this chilly morning.

Trex had told me the evening before that he was coming, so we hung on, hung on and hung on a bit longer, ‘til he arrived at almost 100 mph, without a by your leave. Wearing a designer T-shirt and shorts of a ridiculous shape, but which fitted his body precisely, he passed the comment that he may have made the wrong decision about his attire. He made no apology about their lack of style, but simply about their lack of insulating properties. Sympathy from anyone? Naah. (D’you know, later in the ride, Trex tried to explain that although I wouldn’t believe it, he had been up at 6 o’clock, because he had had lots of things to do, which was his reason for being late. He was correct, I didn’t believe it).

The climb up Priory Road began, although for me it was slightly delayed whilst I sorted out my bloody Garmin which was playing up. I don’t think I held anyone up unduly, as I engaged overdrive, and caught the other chaps fairly quickly. They will unfairly claim that they waited for me for ages, but my physical superiority cannot be ignored.

We took the easier route to Chelwood Gate via Wych Cross, rather than dipping down into the valley, across the ford and back up that fairly steep climb. Only because of Trex, you understand. As we progressed, trying to ignore Trex’s whingeing, I noted that there was an extraordinary number of cyclists out today. Maybe it was because it was Spring, or was there an event going on somewhere near? At some point a bit later, I heard a sort of swooshing noise, and immediately afterwards we were passed at phenomenal speed by a large group of young, fit riders, some of whom were from the Crawley Wheelers. A nano-second after thinking that maybe I would tag onto the back of them, I came to my senses, and continued to ride in my normal stately fashion.

It wasn’t too long after that, that Trex saw a dead squirrel in the road and stopped to do his thing where he moves the unfortunate creature from the road into the grass verge. Originally I thought this would be a mark of respect to the animal, but he explained that his interest was in protecting any scavenging birds from passing motorists. I don’t want to malign Trex, but I just may have detected him moving the squirrel with a disrespectful kick. But maybe not.

A while further on, I heard a bit of a kerfuffle behind me, and Trex explained that it had been Steve letting out a swear word as he had collided with Steve’s bike. I could quite easily believe Trex’s poor bike handling, but surely not Steve swearing. I think I proved my point later on when I almost brought Steve off his bike myself, through my own ineptitude. “Don’t worry old boy, could’ve happened to anybody” was his valiant response.

We made our way over the new bridge at Isfield, passed near to the new-ish windmill at Glyndebourne, and on through the pretty village of Glynde, where Graham and I had once seen a camel looking out at us over a hedge. Yes a camel, really. Then Trex was showing early signs of energy depletion, having not eaten enough. He got slower and slower as we trudged on through the flatlands of Ripe, and he was delighted to spy the Holmes Hill cafe about half a mile distant. He was less delighted to learn that it was inexplicably closed.

Deciding to resist the temptation to dial 999 for him, instead we consulted my trusty map and, hey presto, there seemed to be a pub not much more than a mile away. What a result! The Six Bells Inn at Chiddingly was a bustling pub full of motorbikers, with great food and a great welcome. They even had a live band, with drums, keyboard, clarinet and a xylophone, playing jazz. Who’d have thought it? We all ate heartily, tried not to ogle the beautiful young barmaid, and had a coffee each to round off our stay. £3 for three coffees! It’d have cost almost that for just one up in London. Finally we reluctantly made our way outside.

Deciding to resist the temptation to dial 999 for him, instead we consulted my trusty map and, hey presto, there seemed to be a pub not much more than a mile away. What a result! The Six Bells Inn at Chiddingly was a bustling pub full of motorbikers, with great food and a great welcome. They even had a live band, with drums, keyboard, clarinet and a xylophone, playing jazz. Who’d have thought it? We all ate heartily, tried not to ogle the beautiful young barmaid, and had a coffee each to round off our stay. £3 for three coffees! It’d have cost almost that for just one up in London. Finally we reluctantly made our way outside.

Eventually we managed to shoo away the swarms of female admirers, as we had to leave. Steve mounted his trusty steed, flexed his muscles as he ignored the ‘Road Closed’ sign for the Hartfield Road, and disappeared with a sort of gung-ho demeanour. Trex and I, not to be outdone, descended Kidd’s Hill with our brakes full on, but trying to look manly at the same time.

Luckily I had come by car this morning and, anticipating that it would still be there, I extracted a promise of bountiful recompense from Trex, if only I would, and I think these were his words, “Please, please, give me a lift home up Wall Hill.” I twisted the screw a bit further, and finally agreed. I left him at the top sobbing, and begging me not to write the truth. Trex, if you want a report that reflects the truth, then I’m afraid you’ll have to write it yourself.

John


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