Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Hurstpierpoint - Hassocks, 20th. April, 2008.

Funny weather lately, and today was a bit overcast, with a chance of heavy showers forecast. Still, as usual, I pull on what I think is suitable clothing, and look forward to spending another seventh of my week with some members of the FRBC. And Ron may be there too.

Absentees were Steve and Zoë (in Australia), Brian (in France), Martin (in Heaven), Hilary (catching up on much-needed sleep), Don and Christa (important invitation), Tony and Val (important physical labour), Martha (swanning off round the world). Hope I haven't missed anyone.

So outside the shop were Gordon, then me, Peter, Graham, Jane, Andrew, Ron and Kate. Not necessarily in that order. Gas, gas, gas, chat, chat, chat. Then I got a word in. At that point, everyone decided it was time to leave, and up Priory Road we were led by Ron. Left at the top, then right, down that lovely long drop where you have to be careful 'cos of the slippery bend just before the ford. I had to laugh at Kate doing nigh on 100mph through the water with her feet behind her ears to keep them dry. Her feet, not her ears, stupid!

Mercifully, at the crossroads Ron had decreed that straight on would be a good idea, instead of a left up that b. of a hill that Gordon hates. So we soon arrived at the long, windy lane that leads to Horsted Keynes. Before long, Graham scented a village sign and began to speed up. Andrew of the same flesh and blood scented the chase and off they went at a lick. Being of a certain age myself, I regard this as juvenile behaviour and refuse to get involved. Anyway, there were the three of us belting hell-for-leather, (what does hell-for-leather mean, exactly?), towards the sign, which was partially concealed in the hedgerow. I was soundly beaten, although not by much, by the Chadwick males, but Graham kept pounding onwards. I thought he was just rubbing his victory in, although he admitted he just didn't see the sign, so had kept going. Suddenly, BANG!!!, and Andrew's back wheel took a definite kick into the air, and he had a flat tyre which he did well to control. A huge hole in the tube and a massive cut in the tyre made it unwise for him to continue, and Gordon, the brick, did another temporary repair on the tyre like he had done to Martin's last week, allowing Andrew to ride slowly back home with a reduced tyre pressure, and he eventually arrived there safe and sound.

Kate began to boil inside her layers of clothing, and so did a few others of us, without quite so much fuss. She pointed out that the sun was out, and it was really blue. No, Kate, it is the sky which is blue, the sun is yellow. In any case, Kate was right, it was uncommonly nice out now, and just like a proper, really pleasant Spring day.

El Presidente Redgrove opined that we would all stop at North Chailey for coffee, and we did, except Sarita's has now changed it's name to something which I can't recall just now. However, we all sat outside in the sun, once Ron had eventually agreed to move our table so no-one was left in the shade. Eventually....Then a lovely young lady young enough to be my granddaughter served us admirably, but all too soon we were off again.

It was well and truly Spring by now, as we headed off towards Wivelsfield Green, and yes, you've guessed it, Graham soon began being childish again by zooming towards the sign at great speed. I felt obliged to follow, only out of curiosity you understand, except, joy of joys, there was no sign, and everyone settled down to a more sensible, sedate pace. Will he never learn? Peter and I fell into step together and we chatted amiably, until we reached a roundabout where there were no other cyclists. A mobile phone call to Ron, interrupted by very bad signals, finally told me how to find them all, but Peter had to make his way home on his own, in time to attend a concert. "Please tell Jane I'm sorry, I'd arranged to ride home with her", and off he went.

John, Ron, Jane, Kate and GordonBurgess Hill came and went, by virtue of a turning which we had missed, and all too soon the sign for Hassocks appeared, and Graham once again irresponsibly sped past it before anyone else. The café there is great, except two youths had grabbed the outside seats-in-the-sun, and Ron began to rag them mercilessly. "Move out the way, we want to sit there", "Respect your elders", and "What are you doing smoking?", all fell on deaf ears, and we oldies were forced to sit indoors. Never mind, we all had sumptuous breakfasts of beans on toast, or combinations of sausages, eggs, bubble and squeak, fried bread, black pudding and the like. Before we were ready, Ron The Taskmaster ushered us all outside to set off again. The gorgeous young waitress chose this moment to pounce on me (metaphorically) and engage me in conversation. She was obviously after my phone number, but I am used to that, and I steered the conversation away to other things, like cycling. Ron shouted to me that we must leave now, and I cycled off with the young lady watching me in admiration as I disappeared over the horizon. Anyway, that's how I prefer to remember it, OK?

You've got to hand it to Ron, as much as it is difficult to do so, but we were soon pedalling along an exquisite lane along the bottom of the South Downs. What could one say?, it was superb. Surely nothing could spoil this. Then Ron came alongside. No, that's not fair, he couldn't catch us up, could he?

Crossroads. Straight on Plumpton, right Ditchling Beacon. "I'm not going up there", says Kate. "You'll do what you're told", I replied with absolute authority. She went straight on. Huh, just to show her, I turned right and made off up the massive hill, remembering the last time that I had done that, and Andrew had beaten me to the summit. After 50 yards out of view of the others I turned round only to meet Graham who is always, always up for a challenge. There's no way I could have climbed up there, so I'm glad I turned back before it had become a contest. Silly, isn't it, ladies, but that is what we blokes are saddled with until we become incapable of it any longer. Nature, I suppose.

Just then we were passed by another fella on a bike, and he was going at about our speed, enabling me to collar him and give him the third degree. I detected an accent, which he told me was Czeq, and he'd been here for six years. No wonder his English was better than mine. I'll talk at him a bit more, I decided. He must be a mind-reader, 'cos he suddenly sped off, never to be seen again. Foreigners, eh?

Turn left to Streat, and another silly testosterone-fuelled attempt by Graham to reach a non-existant sign, Haha.

Not sure exactly what lanes we took after that, but they were assuredly lovely, and soon enough we arrived back at what used to be Sarita's at North Chailey. We passed there on the main road to home, and surprisingly also passed the left turn through the lanes. It was soon explained that we were now on route to Jane's, where we would be plied with tea and cake. Bliss. And so it was that we meandered along some delightful, different lanes to Jane and Mike's beautiful place near Chelwood Common, with a magnificent view across the valley, and where we all had tea and goodies of various sorts, before finishing off our trip.

Wych Cross was the point where we said our goodbyes to Ron, who was going to turn off to his house. See you next week, Ron. Graham and I had decided to race down to the Forest Row sign, which Graham won yet again, and Kate and Gordon and we would all meet there to ride along the Forest Way home. And so it was. Until just before the East Grinstead end, we encountered a mum and son with puncture, and not knowing how to mend it. Knight in shining armour being my forté, I leapt into action. Soon enough I had bade all the others to go on home, and I duly claimed all the glory for myself.

Indoors, I cracked open a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, and tried not very hard to erase the smug look on my face. Another fine day..............

John.


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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