Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Isfield - 27th November 2016

I’d been awake since about 6 o’clock, so I had time to do 100 press-ups, a couple of hundred sit-ups and a good number of reps lifting massive dumbbells. I didn’t actually do them, but I did have time to do them. I thought instead, that I would put my bike in my car and drive to FR.

On my arrival at the shop, about 200 yards from the car park, I was delighted to see Graham, over the moon to see Steve, and ecstatic to see Sienna. And Martha was there too. I’m sorry Martha, I must stop doing that joke. It probably wasn’t even funny the first time. I was actually exceedingly chuffed to see you too. The best wisecrack of the day, by some margin, was when Trex eventually sped round the corner to the shop, trying to look nonchalant, and greeted us all with “Good morrow”. Graham instantly replied in a deadpan fashion “Well, it almost is!”. Priceless.

Whilst waiting interminably for Trex, we learned that Graham’s poor Mum has finally gone into a care home, Zoë had a fall on holiday which severely injured a hip, knee and ankle, Martha’s son Nick has developed pneumonia and pleurisy, and Martha is covered in bruises from a couple of falls off her bike in the week. She explained to me that it wasn’t necessary to commiserate with her by prodding her very bruised elbow in sympathy. I won’t use her exact words. Surely we all wish all of them the very best in getting better soon. And so we finally began our ride.

The same as a couple of weeks ago, I noticed Sienna gliding past the first sign of the day, this time Coleman’s Hatch, in front of a jaded-looking Graham. Bodes well for later, I thought. And a little while afterwards, we climbed Shepherd’s Hill, but instead of continuing to the top, turned right towards The Hatch Inn. Fear dawned on Sienna, who asked if we were going up Kidd’s Hill. “I’m afraid so”, I lied, but Martha spilled the beans immediately in a great show of sorority. (Look it up, I had to). We turned off left just before it, across that small ford, and made our way to the top of that same hill by a slightly, but not much, gentler route.

I’m not sure exactly where it was, but I found a large lorry-type mirror beside the road. It was undamaged too, and perfect for admiring myself in. So I retrieved it and stuffed it up my jumper for later. Trex retrieved a dead squirrel from the road, for reasons pointed out in previous reports. Fine chap.

At the top of the Ashdown Forest, we looked forward to the long drop down past Duddleswell Tea Rooms and the sharp left turn to the Fairwarp sign. Trex childishly accelerated, far too early, and Graham took the bait. I couldn’t believe that he too had misjudged the distance to the sign, and I was reluctantly compelled to follow him, waiting until he had run out of steam. I was then able to demonstrate my superiority and non-childishness by claiming the sign easily.

If you recall, it’s not long after there that we have to climb Jane’s bête noir, Oldlands Hill, just after crossing another ford. No-one can find that hill easy, but how Sienna climbed it without any toe clips or cleats is beyond me. But climb it she did, and no whingeing either. I confess to a whinge myself. Trex turned back to lift a dead rabbit from the road and place it somewhere where it could be more comfortably pecked to bits.

I’m not entirely sure where, but along the route Trex was having a moan about something or other. Probably that I was better looking than him, or faster on a bike, I suppose. But he confessed that, at times, he was ‘an untrammelled moaner’. Perfect. He could now be dubbed ‘UTM’, for indeed he is. Unfortunately, a little later, the sad chap decided to accelerate towards the Palehouse Common sign, lose miserably to me, of course, whereupon he was also dubbed ‘UML’, for unmitigated loser. The only thing which could have marred my glee was Mr. Chadwick declaring that he had passed the first of the Palehouse Common signs before us, for there were actually two of them. Well, that may be true, and in fact it is, but how trivial can you get?

There was nothing for it but to take a completely fair advantage of the fact that everyone but me was held up whilst crossing the A26, about 3 miles from Isfield. Mostly the road onward is slightly downhill, and a tail wind assisted me greatly. Obviously I don’t care about such things, but I had to show them, and did so by passing the Isfield sign by such a margin, that my chest had only just deflated by the time the first of the losers had arrived at the café. Huh!

You surely all know the café at Isfield. The one at the old train station. It is very oldy-worldy, and very welcoming, but can be very busy. Happily not today, as we were served remarkably quickly. And a large table was vacated for us by a group of Redhill CC cyclists. I may point out here, that I removed my lorry mirror from up my jumper, and positioned it against a sauce bottle so that I was able to admire myself.

Hardly had we begun to eat when another cyclist who I know arrived, and he, Ken, was invited to join us. He and I were engrossed in my conversation for ages. But when I stopped to draw breath, I noticed that not only had my mirror been re-positioned for others to admire themselves, but their conversation seemed to consist of tales of certain undergarments of a female nature. I can’t leave them for five minutes!

Some traitor or another amongst us asked Ken if he knew anything incriminating about me. He almost mentioned that time when...........er.......but it is completely fabricated, and I was able to head him off in another direction. Time to leave. Just time to notice a lovely photograph of a lovely woman on the wall. She was a very happy lady, who looked after us all extremely well for many visits at Isfield, but who is sadly no longer with us. I won’t be the only one to have fond memories of her. Does anyone else remember those strawberries?

We’d covered the majority of our distance already, and merely had to go more or less straight to Forest Row. Trex made his third u-turn to move another unfortunate squirrel from the road, and not long afterwards I had to try really hard not to gloat at having won the Piltdown sign from Trex, Graham having been engrossed in conversation with Sienna.

As a sort of consolation prize for Trex, I pointed out to him the spot where last year a few of us saw a fungus which looks like a squid, and is pretty rare this far north. Sadly, it must be a bit late for it now, as no sign of it was to be seen.

All that remained was the slow drag up Down Street, and not long afterwards the dash to the Chelwood Gate sign which Trex won stormingly. His endorphins had obviously decided to do overtime, because he then thrashed up the Lewes Road hill towards Wych Cross. The poor chap had forgotten to take into account my superiority, because almost at the top, he caved in, and only my bike handling skill prevented me running into the exhausted chap before overtaking him.

I just needed to streak away to the final sign of the day at Forest Row. I’d forgotten to take into account how juvenile Graham is, and decided to let him sneak past me at the last minute. My last view of the group was of Steve disappearing towards East Grinstead, Graham riding off somewhere with Martha and Sienna. And Trex? I’ve no idea.

I’m just glad I had my car 200 yards away.

John


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