Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Isfield - 1st February 2009

Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha! I peeled my eyelids back into my skull and realised that I'm still on this earth and still have a pulse. (Or at least when I wrote this). Grim Reaper hadn't called in the night. (Ditto). And there was the prospect of another day out in the fresh air on my bike, with some good company and Ron. It was my last day of 15 days holiday, and I wanted to make the most of it. I went into the bathroom and had a peep at the sink, dragged on my bike clothes and made my shivery way to Forest Row. It turned out that the air was a fair bit fresher than I'd expected, and its a good job I'd popped my rain cape into my back pocket. I would be needing that later, although not because of rain, I'm glad to relate, just to keep the cold out. The obligatory look down the road from which Graham sometimes emerges drew a blank, so I had a fairly relaxed ride along the A22, up the hill and a whizz down to the bike shop, and I mentally marked the Forest Row sign down to me. One - nil.

Ron was there already, but soon enough things perked up with the arrival of Steve, Peter, and Gordon. The lovely Kate materialised, and she opined that the weather was unseasonably cold. Really? 1st. of February? Cold? Quel surprise! Anyway, it wasn't long before she asked me to lift her bike out of the car in which she had conveyed it to Forest Row, and I chivalrously complied. I will swear that Graham was hiding round the corner 'til I had done it, 'cos he arrived a nano-second later. I was yakking, so I can't swear to when exactly Peter arrived, but arrive he did. And before too long, when we'd all agreed that Kate was right, I found myself yakking at Peter, 'cos everyone else had left for the pleasures of the Priory Road climb. Having started off very tired, I began to feel my legs performing a brisk, circling motion which is quite a bonus if one is riding a bike. So it was that I passed a number of struggling cyclists, and ignoring the ice either side of the road, I arrived at the summit where I had to risk hypothermia by waiting for an interminably long time before the lesser mortals arrived.

Dunno why I am so unkind to Graham, except that he deserves it. Anyway, about three days beforehand, he had phoned me, as he had been perusing a cycling magazine, and had read that Mavic, the maker of some remarkably expensive racing wheels, has become aware of a design fault in the front one of them. So serious is it, that they have decided to recall all the front wheels of the type, in order to replace them at the end of March with a superior design. In the meantime, they are supplying a pair of their not-quite-so-superior wheels which are to be kept forever, even after the replacement has been made. Remembering that I had just bought a pair of the said remarkably expensive racing wheels, Graham phoned me to tell me of the deal. So it was that I took advantage of the info., and not only will I not now suffer a front wheel failure, I also have another pair of pretty impressive wheels for nothing. I duly bought Graham a coffee at the end of the ride, cost £2.50. Result!

Everyone being assembled at Goat Cross, we turned left, and when it became apparent that the orders were to turn first right down the dip, across the ford and up that short, but very sharp hill to Chelwood Gate, Gordon and Kate mutinied, and said they'd go along the top road and meet us outside the pub. In one way they were wise, in that there was sufficient ice on the valley road to make us all dismount. Even then some of us nearly fell. How Tony stayed on his bike I don't know, and nor does he. I rode over the footbridge for the first time, rather than through the ford. The climb up the winding road back to the top warmed us up somewhat. It is narrow, and hemmed in by trees which are a treat at any time of year, particularly on those days when the sun shines in shafts through the canopy onto the thick carpet of fallen leaves. But not this day, when it was dank and a little spooky. Taking this in helps you forget that your legs are aching, and that the two mutineers were shivering waiting for us all.

Once an ex-cyclist from Spain
Thought he'd take to his cycle again.
But what he forgot
Was the pad for his bot.
Now he's got tears in his eyes from the pain.

All together again, we made our way through Chelwood Gate past the road which leads to the abode of the lovely Jane who was sadly absent this week. Probably huddled up against a fire, sensible lady.

Out onto the A22 at Nutley for a short distance, then we turned right to leave the traffic behind, so everyone could engage in interesting conversation. All except me, as I usually like to keep my own counsel, and muse quietly to myself as I silently pedal along. Approaching the outskirts of Piltdown, I snuck away on my own, accelerating discreetly so as not to be noticed by Chadwick The Elder. Soon I was pedalling furiously, looking for the Piltdown sign which I would soon claim. Gasping, I slowed inexorably, (5-syllable word), only to realise that there was no sign! Good job Graham hadn't noticed, I thought, except he had, and gloated in suitably large doses.

A cyclist who came from Turin
Thought he'd take out his bike for a spin.
He started to cough,
Which made him fall off.
I'll bet he won't do that agin.

I don't suppose that lane seems particularly long in most temperatures, but today it decidedly did, probably because Ron told his joke again about the number of mushrooms growing in the putting green at Isfield golf course. (Now there's a game I can't understand any proper bloke playing. Certainly not a cyclist!) Soon enough I began to sense that we were nearing Isfield, and the thought of a hot, cooked, enormous breakfast gave me a spurt of energy. Once more I began to accelerate, leaving, I thought, the laggard Chadwick far behind. Beginning to flag, but not giving in, and feeling a tad, I have to admit, triumphant, a hardly-breathing Chadwick appeared alongside me enquiring if I had noticed that he had passed the Isfield sign first, some considerable while ago. He's so childish!

A cyclist who went out in all weathers
Had a problem protecting his nethers
From the cold, so decided
(To me he confided)
To surround his John Thomas with feathers.

In no time I found myself in the warmth of the cafe, against a hot radiator, and my large cooked breakfast arrived even before some others had placed their orders. Kate, who was sitting beside me, nicked one of my chips, then tried to get me to surrender my piece of black pudding, which she really likes, even though her husband had ordered an extra quota. What a family! I don't care how lovely Kate is, I declined.

As is usual, soon enough we had to pull on our tops and brave the cold again, but Steve was able to inform us that the temperature had soared from a miserable 1.7°C to a very comfortable 2.6°C, and we should all stop whingeing. Fair point.

We retraced our path, and it wasn't long before Steve, alias Ray Mears, noticed a number of deer off to one side in the woods. Having had them pointed out, I saw them distinctly as they tried to secrete themselves away. How did Steve notice them? It's a pity that he and Ron didn't employ the same tactics a short while later when they had reason to creep into the woods behind separate trees for a call of nature. We saw you!!!

Not that I'm bothered by it at all, because I think it's juvenile, but as the Piltdown sign was coming up soon, I thought I'd sneak away once more and gradually speed up, unnoticed. I took the precaution of looking over my shoulder, and seeing no-one, continued gleefully. Whizz down the hill, glance over the shoulder again. Nothing but a white van. Haha! There's the sign. Pootle up the road and it's mine. Suddenly, zzzzzoooommmm. Screeching past me comes guess who? Yes, the immature, but grown man, Graham. Why is it so important to him? Dunno, it's a bloke thing, I suppose. Sorry ladies. It's the moment to admit that I was also later beaten by the same craven person to the Forest Row and East Grinstead signs, but I needn't mention that I have a bad leg, my brakes were wrongly adjusted and slowing me down, and a couple of other things that I haven't thought up yet. (It's called old age, one can be too 'grown up' - Ed) Grow up, Graham!

Tony grovelled a bit getting home, but he hadn't been on his bike since the Xmas Lunch. As we all know, you don't have to be off the bike for long before it becomes pretty hard when you finally have the time to get out again. I bet he slept well that night.

Once we'd all returned to Wych Cross, Steve, the hardest of hard men, turned right and went home across the Ashdown Forest, Gordon and Peter turned left and went home avoiding the A22, and although Ron did take the main road, elected to peel off to the left and go home. Java and Jazz was a welcome sight for the rest of us, if not for them, and Tony, Kate, Graham and I reclined for a while in the warmth of the cafe, and watched the snow fall for a while before making our various ways home.


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