Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Otford - 18th September 2016

I didn't feel too bad at all this morning, even though the glorious Indian summer we have been enjoying has now come to an end. It was overcast today, but still fairly mild, as I cycled off to Forest Row. I chose not to go in my car today, as firstly, I knew I would go straight home once we reached Lingfield, and secondly, but more importantly, I wouldn't have to have Trex in my car again, however much he begged me.

Reaching FR, I sat on the wall outside the bike shop, wondering if I'd got the day right, the venue right, etc., etc., until Steve arrived just one minute late. (Ironic really, as he told us a story at the lunch stop about how he tried to avoid a policeman once, in order not to be late).

Steve was to lead this week, as Graham had more pressing matters, and we sat waiting for Trex. He eventually phoned to say he had emerged from his house to find his bike had a puncture. Good excuse. So Steve and I puffed up Wall Hill to encounter Trex at the top. Fixed his puncture already, eh? Sure you just didn't want to ride down Wall Hill and back up again, eh? No matter. Shan't mention it.

Trex told us that he had a Garmin, which would guide us faultlessly to our destination, as Graham wasn't here. Should he go indoors and get it, since we were passing his house? Promising that he wouldn't be a minute, we agreed. It was true, he wasn't a minute. And when he emerged, it still didn't work. Steve and I exchanged a look, and accelerated far enough for Trex's excuses to be inaudible.

Only seconds later, who was missing again? Yep, it was he. I can't even remember the excuse this time, 'cos I wasn't listening.

Oh joy! Furnace Lane wasn't much later, and I could begin speaking about myself again. I recounted a tale about once when I'd been riding off-road, and having gone off the edge of the map I was carrying, I emerged onto that very Furnace Lane. I couldn't recognise it at all, having approached it from such a new direction. I remembered explaining it to another chap a day or two later, and couldn't quite understand his view that it wasn't as interesting a story as I thought it was.

I cut this tale to the bone, so we had only gone several miles when I'd already finished it. Trex then shouted that a car was approaching from behind, and just as I looked over my shoulder, he was off, and claimed the Cowden sign as his. The Bounder! Anyone else reading this will realise how ungentlemanly and childish this behaviour is. No matter. Shan't mention it.

Those of you who read my previous report about the Sevenoaks ride in July, and there can't be many, will remember the fat bearded bloke overtaking me. I know. Anyway, Trex informed me as we ascended Butterwell Hill that henceforth, it is to be known as Fat Bloke With The Beard Hill. I can go along with that.

Soon I took great pleasure in beating Trex to the Weller's Town sign, especially as it was buried deep in an overgrown hedge and he didn't know it was there. Ha!

We whizzed down the hill after Larkin's Brewery, over Graham's favourite bridge, and it was not long before I claimed the Chiddingstone Causeway sign for my own.

It was about this time that my Garmin decided to turn itself off. And from there until the end of the ride it misbehaved like a naughty schoolkid. I nearly locked it in the cupboard with the chalk and the new exercise books. I must mention that Trex was exemplary. He didn't gloat once about mine packing up too.

As is sometimes the way, I noticed something on the road and stopped to see what it was. It was like a very large wasp, and I guessed it might be a hornet, as I couldn't recall having seen one before. A couple of photos later, Steve identified it as such, and pronounced the identifying feature as being the red markings on its collar. (Having arrived home, I checked on the internet, and of course, Steve was right. He is a very knowledgeable man about these things).

And so to Underriver!!!! Is it worse than York's Hill? I don't know, but it is a b*****d. It's one of those hills where you keep thinking that you're at the top, but you're only a third of the way up. Then when you reach the top, you're still only a third of the way up. Whilst still at the bottom, I had been overtaken by another cyclist wearing a pink top. A pink top! I let him pass, obviously, but I was disgusted, if not quite pleased to learn that he had beaten Trex to the real top. Only by a little bit, Trex was to claim. Yes Trex, of course.

I waited until Trex was distracted, and beat him to the Kemsing sign, which he hadn't known was there, and shortly afterwards, I became alarmed when he dashed off to Otford and I couldn't catch him. Joy of joys, there wasn't an Otford sign. What a complete and utter shame.

Have you been to the cafe in Otford? We received a fine welcome there, and the breakfast was just what was needed. Steve enquired after a lovely, young waitress who had been there before, only to learn that she had been given the heave-ho due to persistent lateness. Take note, Trex. As we were leaving, a pair of ladies were served with their lunches. They were so huge, (the lunches), that they would have prevented we three from mounting our bikes for the rest of the day.

A mile or so towards home, we faced Star Hill, although happily we were not going to go that way. Trex did inform us, though, that at the top of said hill, there is an establishment where any bomb which is found in the UK, I think he said, is taken to be dismantled and examined with a view to deciding who made it and why.

Another part of the Pilgrim's Way soon followed. We go along this part quite often, and it is pleasing to note that the extensive rubbish which had been dumped there the last time has been removed. We met a nice couple along there who were on their way back to Epsom, not having been out in the Surrey and Kent lanes for some time. Makes you appreciate those lanes even more, being on your doorstep.

Soon we were crossing the Clacket Lane services, and whizzing down Pain's Hill. Just after that you pass over a railway bridge which has been being refurbished since Methuselah was a boy. Goodness knows what has taken them so long. I remarked that at last it is finished, but the eagle-eyed Trex pointed out that the pointing hasn't been done yet. Pointed out, pointing. Geddit?

My Garmin having given up, causing me to take an erroneous turning, it had to be explained to me that Steve was leading the ride, and was to be respected. Fair point. So I obeyed my way all the way to the end of St. Piers Lane, claiming to be first to four signs which Trex didn't know about, because I had imagined them, (they all count), and comforted myself with the fact that I had all of one mile to go to get home, and all of it flat.

So thank you, Steve, for a wonderful day's riding, and Trex, er, well.

John


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