Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Oxted - 29th March 2009

I've said it before, and doubtless I'll do so again, but you never know how well, or not, you are going to go until you actually get on the bike, no matter how you feel when you wake up. Well, today I didn't feel too good, really. Nothing requiring a paramedic-accompanied hurtle through the traffic to the intensive care department, but not all that far off. However, I definitely did have a severe case of, (I'll just wait for dramatic effect while you imagine the drum roll), yes, you've guessed it, 'man's flu'. I tell you, it was worse than the time I caught the hair on my chest in my raincoat zip, (it's not the time to discuss why I didn't have anything else in between), or when I broke my fingernail dinging the train bell on Platform 3 at Horley Station. (And the fuss women make about childbirth!).

My worst fears were confirmed as I got to the bottom of the slope from my garage to the road, and began to pedal. It was not going to be one of my finest days out. The Met. Office had been right about the cold, but a little wide of the mark about the sunshine. Still, not to worry, I hoped we would escape the rain, and that at least did turn out to be true.

I arrived at the bike shop four miles from my house to discover Graham with a gloaty grin on his face and his mobile phone at the ready, in order to remind me that the clocks had gone forward an hour during the night. I like to think that all the others were happy to see me arrive, albeit seriously ill, even if you weren't so happy, Graham. Anyway, Ron, Peter and Jane were nice enough to me, and so was Kate, when we met her a short while later at the top of Wall Hill.

Ron, as usual, preferred to keep our eventual destination to himself, even though the recently published latest instalment of the rides schedule specifically mentioned The Priory, Nutfield. Look it up, the evidence is still there. (no it isn't, I just removed it ... Orders! - Ed)

Having been propelled by gravity to the bottom of Shovelstrode Lane, we of course had to make up for it by putting in some effort to arrive at the crossroads with the A264, where Chairman Ron decreed that we had gone via Old Surrey Hall too often lately, and we would therefore turn right. Obviously we obeyed without question, and I was soon afterwards cheered up immensely on realising that we were approaching the Hammerwood sign, and Graham was inescapably boxed in amongst us all. Nul points! (French accent).

I know a gentleman shouldn't do it, but I openly admit to feeling a large helping of schadenfreude (foreign word), when Graham tried to make up for missing the sign by zooming down the next hill, up the other side, and turning right at our usual junction, only to realise that everyone else was going straight on. Nice one, Ron. Dear, oh, dear, it wasn't Graham's day so far, was it? He was talking away when I came over the brow of a hill to see the Dormansland sign right in front of me, and claimed loads of points for passing it first. Being a bad loser, he determined to make up for it by trying to beat me by draughting down the long drag to the crossroads at the north end of the village. Draughting is, I believe, the term to use when we blokes, (women wouldn't be so stupid), place their noses an inch away from their front tyre, shamelessly stick their backsides up from the saddle as far as they can get them, and try to cheat the wind so as to roll down a hill an infinitessimal (six syllable word) amount faster than their opponents, (as that is how they see them). If you've done it, you'll know that if you can get close behind someone else doing it, you can get in their 'draught', ie. their slipstream. In this way you can gradually accelerate without pedalling at all, and then overtake them. The downside is that they can then get in your slipstream and do the same to you. Oh!, the joys of being a competitive male. Pathetic, but fun. Yes, yes, I know, Graham timed it just right and got in front of me, but outsprinting me on the final bend, his drink bottle jumped out of its holder and disappeared amongst the undergrowth. I scored loads more moral points by finding it for him, and then times two, when he admitted that his bottle cage was broken and he'd intended replacing it for the last fortnight. Enough of this alpha male nonsense.

Everyone kindly waited for us at the crossroads, and we progressed via a short stretch of the Lingfield/Edenbridge road to the narrow lane through the NCYPE to Dwelly Lane, thence through Hurst Green to Oxted, and the large Morrison's supermarket, where we had a very welcome sit down and something to eat. Graham had his usual gargantuan English breakfast, costing him something slightly over £3.00. I don't know how they do it, or why he isn't in the least bit fat. Kate's breakfast arrived, and it was also enough to feed all of us, although in fairness, she hadn't expected it to be that size, judging by its photograph when she ordered it. (When she couldn't finish it, her husband hoovered up the remains, and still looks like a stick insect. The world is not a fair place). The rest of us exercised suitable restraint, according to our weight or pocket, and eventually that moment arrived when we had outstayed our welcome and felt obliged to emerge into the open air and retrieve our bikes.

Now, I rarely remember to take my bike lock with me, and having had a bike stolen in front of my eyes not many years ago I ought to. However, Graham keeps one wrapped round his saddle stem, and always offers to lock up the bicycles of the more selfish members of the club, ie me, during refreshment breaks. So he is not completely bad, and I thank him for that.

I claim the excuse of age for not being able to remember accurately which way we made our way home, but I do remember that Ron wanted to get back to let his young dog out, and hastily clipped off up the road. I didn't see him again, although I trust he made it home alright. Jane, at some point realised that our path didn't lead her straight home, and left with Peter for one that did. The rest of us got to the track that borders the East Croydon to East Grinstead railway line just in time for me to point out to anyone who was interested (no-one) that a 377 class train was discharging passengers on platform 2 at Dormans station. Philistines!

Kate said she didn't remember ever having been along that track, but Graham informed her that they'd walked along it more than once. Amnesia isn't confined to just me then.

We emerged in East Grinstead adjacent to Fry's, the noted butcher's shop on Lingfield Road, and soon afterwards I bade farewell to the Chadwick's and grovelled back home to my sick bed from where I am compiling this report, accompanied by a liberal measure of medicinal alcohol. (hence the mad maundering - Ed

Cheers, John.


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