Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Oxted 16th March 2008

Happiness is warm feet in dry shoes. You see, I hadn't expected to be riding down the (familiar) track to Forest Row. Neither had I expected to continue along the track to Hartfield. Suffice it to say that I was unprepared so that when I joined the others at Hartfield I was at a disadvantage. Still, they were good-natured. I could ride with them, though perhaps I could be expected to take my break outside rather than inside the café. And one of them lent me a pair of socks.

We continued along the unfamiliar road through the villages to Groombridge. Instead of the level, straight one-time railway route to the village, we followed the winding, undulating route, the one which cyclists must share with cars and with lorries. At times, it's evident that a driver has forgotten about this need to share the road with soft-skinned cyclists

On the outward leg, whatever the weather, the ride is towards the break, the pub or the café, the half-way stop. We look ahead to the pleasure of the chat, to the refreshment. When the day is cold and damp, the goal is all the more attractive. So we got on with it.

Ron (pensive) and Don looking horrifiedAt the café in Tunbridge Wells, the welcome was warm, and so was the face itself. Your correspondent, a kindly old gentleman, felt obliged to declare himself to be the muddy one. But he too was welcomed. Indeed, apart from the newspaper on his chair and roundabout him on the floor, his muddy shoes and wet socks on the newspapers, and flecks of mud on the floor itself, he was hardly noticeable. In any case, the appetites, it was soon clear, were unaffected.

Alas, the warmth of the café was to be replaced by the cold and damp. Your correspondent, wearing dry socks, if wet shoes, assembled with the others to begin the return route. And back we cycled. Along that winding, undulating road, it was sensible to cycle for the most part in single file. It came to be that your correspondent, his warm socks cooling, found himself alone on the road. None to be seen in front, none to be seen behind. And when he arrived in Forest Row, still the lone cyclist, he remained alone. It was only later that the story of the accident emerged.

Happiness, you remember, for one was a pair of dry socks. Good fortune for two others was damaged bikes rather than bodies. A short, 30-odd miles, ride. A memorable one.


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