Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

North Chailey, 2nd January,2011.

Three months off the bike, and two stones on the middle. It was not all that easy to flop out of my bed, but the thought that the time had come was made a tad easier by the bright sunshine which crept over the horizon and straight into my bedroom. I washed out my cycling bottle and filled it with an energy drink, and promptly forgot all about it. Tyres were pumped up and chain oiled. Didn't bother with the rain cape as it wouldn't be needed. Huh! Mistake!

It was great to be out again, especially as all the snow and ice and sub-zero temperatures had gone at last. Hardly any traffic, and the sun shone through the trees. Eight miles later, and there were Graham, Don, Tony, Kate, Peter, Gordon, Stuart and Ron waiting outside the bike shop at Forest Row. Chit chat chit chat and then we tackled Priory Road, where I immediately began to resemble a comical bird which lives in the North Sea and eats sand eels by the beak-full. Puffin! Wake up at the back!

From the Goat car park where the others charitably waited for me, and were so busy yakking that they forgot to take the mickey out of me, we headed South along the fairly newly-laid main-ish road and turned left into Chilling Street. From then on I remember hardly any directions at all, as I was wishing that I'd brought my rain cape after all. Not that it was raining, but it is an excellent wind-shield, and makes a massive difference in such temperatures.

Undaunted, I chatted to various members about their Christmas experiences. So it was that I learned that Peter and his lady had feasted on vegetable crumble and sparkling apple juice, and gone to a New Year's Eve Ball, Peter dressed, as he said, like a penguin. And now I try to remember what the others said, I find that the memory has faded already, and I shall blame that on my shivering. I do remember that no-one had any complaints about Christmas though, at least that they wished to share with me.

The ride was very enjoyable, except for watching Stuart zooming past at intervals, trying to get rid of some of his surplus energy. (Surplus energy - oh yes, I vaguely remember that).

We rolled along that lovely slightly-downward road that leads to where Martin has his work premises, and to the right, the sky was a lovely blue with fluffy white bits, but I happened to glance left, and almost the whole sky was slate-grey. Not threatening rain, but threatening no more of the sunshine which was giving us all a respite from the cold. And so it turned out to be. Cold! It's strange in this kind of weather, you ride along, just on the right side of freezing, and you are glad of the odd hill just so you can warm up a bit. But you have to beware that you don't do too much and get too tired. Oh well!

I recognised a lot of the roads, and in different circumstances I would be able to recount where we went, but not today. I just know that Graham was leading, therefore whenever we saw a sign indicating the location of North Chailey, we were ushered in a different direction.

North Chailey did eventually appear, but, according to one of our party, from a completely new direction. Nevertheless, it was thoroughly welcome, and we all piled into the cafe, where Ron violently assaulted me for some remark which I now forget, but I must have deserved it. A lovely apparition appeared and took our orders, but informed us that we could not have our preferred options as they were not available until 12 noon. One of the more astute amongst us pointed out that it was now just past 2 minutes 'til noon, and that by the time she had taken our orders, etc., etc. She smiled that bashful sort of smile that only young ladies can do to old men, and our orders were taken with profuse apologies. All too soon our warming dishes were consumed, and we were back out in the, by now, perishing outdoors. We had hardly gone any distance, when the blue flashing lights of an ambulance were visible in the middle of the road, and on our approach, we were all diverted down a side street and then back up to the main road a little further on. No-one amongst us could say what had happened as we had all looked away when we had noticed some poor being, huddled under a pile of blankets in the middle of the road. A speedy recovery to you, whoever you are! It became apparent that Ron had decided not to take the detour, but had taken the footpath alongside the main road, and thereafter continued on his way alone. We didn't see him again for the rest of the day. I hope he got home alright.

Gordon noticed that his back wheel was making a scraping noise, and we all stopped to investigate. He had broken a spoke, and most of us were stumped as to what to do. Some wag opined that it was because Gordon had put on too much weight over Christmas, which didn't seem at all charitable to me. I would never say a thing like that. (I did notice, however, whilst we were waiting for repairs to be carried out, that Graham's top had a split on the shoulder, which he attempted to explain had only happened that morning. Too much Christmas pudding, Graham?) Gordon was un-fazed by his broken spoke, and proceeded to search for an adjustable spanner which he keeps in his saddle bag. Having found it, it appeared to be seized up, being so little used. However, he manfully forced it to work, and in a trice had loosened the two spokes adjacent to the broken one, and we were away again. Impressive, huh?

Fletching appeared, and for some reason we stopped, probably to regroup. It was then that Don realised that he had left his bum-bag at the cafe. Stalwart that he is, he was going to cycle back on his own to retrieve it, but was persuaded by Gordon to go back there later in his car to get it, and sod the global warming. He sensibly ceded the point, and came back with the rest of us.

Tony was getting a bit tired by now, enough not to be able to get away from me. Thus I learned that he and Val are to fly off to Kenya tomorrow, where he assured me the temperature is forecast to be between 24 and 32ºC. Which of us cares, eh? The rotters.

Almost home, Gordon informed me that he hadn't been out for the last four Sundays, due to various reasons including the terrible icy roads lately. I don't know where he gets it from, but whilst the rest of us seemed to slow down appreciably during the day, Gordon started fairly slowly, and speeded up towards to end. Drugs? Kate too, although pretty tired by the end, said her bad foot is at last showing signs of improvement. Lets hope it continues.

As for me, if you are interested, I grovelled the last 8 miles home on my own, and honestly, I was so cold when I got in, I turned up the central heating to full, and lit all the gas rings too. But whilst I have been compiling this (short) report, I have recovered enough to peel off my last top layer, and am finishing it with my chest (control yourselves, ladies) bared to the world.

Happy New Year to you all. John xxx


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