Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Oxted, Nay, Tunbridge Wells, 16th March, 2008.

The rain it was a-raining as I went to the garage to get my bike ready. The road was the preferred route to Forest Row rather than the track, as from previous experience I had discovered that a certain amount of donkey's do's and horse detritus and any amount of other unpleasant material is likely to stick to you on the way there in this sort of weather. So it was that I arrived and assumed my usual position in the bus shelter across the way, clean, but more than a tad damp. A lovely stranger arrived. It was Martha, resplendent in those waterproof thingies that remind dirty old men of suspenders. Another unlovely stranger arrived simultaneously from another direction. It was El Presidente Redgrove, semi-recovered from his bout of man's flu the week before. Huddled all together in the bus shelter we must have given the locals cause for concern. Soon, however, on the scene came a-huffin' and a-puffin' the bedraggled figure of Chadwick Senior, ready for action. That man just doesn't know how to go slow.

Soon we were joined by another 50% of the Chadwick family, namely the redoutable Mrs. C. who is one of the nicest ladies in the world, and close behind, Master A. Chadwick, covered in most of the aforementioned contents of the Forest Way, as he had borrowed his Mum's old bike which unfortunately lacked a rear mudguard.

As is usual in such circumstances, we asked ourselves what on earth we were doing there when the rest of Britain was partaking of bacon sandwiches by the fire. Soon though, it was time to pretend how tough we were, and pedalled up (as usual) the road towards Hartfield where we would meet the local tough guy Steve under the bridge, and hopefully, Chairman Don, who for reasons too complicated to go into, had bypassed the bike shop, and sped, in Don's meaning of the word, directly to the said bridge. As became obvious on Don's arrival, young Andrew had very kindly left loads of filth behind on the Way for Don to pick up, which he duly did, no doubt mindful of the benefit his roses would gain from all the free fertilizer he would later scrape from his clothing onto his garden. Seven riders on a day like today - not a bad turn-out at all.

Oxted had been the plan, but on such a day as this it seemed more comfortable to cut the distance a bit and head for Tunbridge Wells where we knew we could get an equally huge breakfast and not have to ride so far home. Sound thinking.

Making the most of such a day, conversation seemed in order. I spoke at various riders along the route, and allowed just enough time for each of them to get a word in. Thus I learned that Andrew had had a day off from his job that week. He had also discovered that he had passed his Maths GCSE. Steve has loads of trips planned in the near future, involving his motorbike, one of his cars, and some of his family. Martha is working herself half to death flying round the world and looking after her family at the same time as getting over a rotten chest infection. About the conversation of everyone else, in some cases I have been sworn to secrecy, and in the other cases either I can't remember or I wasn't listening.

Kate and John in the caféAn enormous cooked breakfast was downed at the welcoming café in TW. Don very responsibly volunteered to sit on yesterday's newspaper to save his chair from the you-know-what all over him. And when we eventually left, a lovely young lady fussed around him with a dustpan and brush 'til he had left the premises.

Now, earlier in the day whilst Graham was still a little bit sleepy, I zipped up the road and reached the Groombridge sign ahead of him. To most adults this is a childish victory, but to many male cyclists this is the reason for living. 1 to me! Unfortunately I had forgotten to take into account several factors, namely Graham's competitiveness, Graham's youth compared to mine, and Graham's fitness and strength. Thus it was on our return home that he beat me to the signs of Groombridge, Hartfield and Upper Hartfield and probably some others that I have chosen not to remember. At this point, if you are a female reading this, you will think that this is the most stupid thing you have ever read. If you are a bloke, however, you will probably be thinking the same thing. Conversely, though, whilst racing for the final sign at Coleman's Hatch, which I was obviously going to reach first, I espied Graham coming up on my right, far faster than me. He was going to beat me yet again. This was more than my puny ego could stand, and in the heat of the moment I swerved across the road to cut off his path. Crash, bang, wallop! My new bike was broken, Graham's front wheel was buckled and his front mudguard was shattered. Mercifully both of us remained on our bikes, but neither of them were still rideable. Ron The Gentleman instantly volunteered to ride home and get his van to ferry us both home. Graham The Gentleman refrained from calling me any number of names which would have been justified. I took, and still take 100% responsibility for being a bad loser, and am thankful that I didn't cause any worse calamity.

If there is a silver lining in any of this, it is that it was probably my turn to buy the coffees at Java and Jazz this week, and because of the foregoing, we all went home and I got away with it. 'Til another time..................

Shamefully, John.


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