Forest Row Bike Club
Penshurst & Chiddingstone: 7 January 2007
Sunday again. As I woke up heard the wind howling outside. Perhaps it would be better just to turn over and go back to sleep again. However got up, opened the curtains to find dark skies and rain splashed windows even though it wasn’t raining at that moment. Not a promising start – perhaps Ron will ring and say the ride is off – well no harm in hoping!
No phone call so the ride must be on. 9.40 - late as usual – rang Ron on his mobile to let him know that Val (my Val – not Ron’s!) and I were coming. He said that they were setting off in 2 minutes! The route was to be the same as the one Ron and I did the previous Thursday. Val said that’s alright then - we can just keep cycling until we catch them up. Its only when you have to redo a route led by someone else that you realise you weren’t taking a blind bit of notice – panic began to set in
We set off and decided to take a short cut down to the Forest Way track to hopefully make up a bit of time. Got to Hartfield and still no sight of them – were they trying to get away from us? We were just about to emerge onto the road up to Holtye (the bit I could remember!) when we saw cyclists emerging one by one from under the bridge by the old station. Yes! It was the FRBC. How did they get behind us? It turned out Ron has a soft side after all and decided to wait in Forest Row. Pity we headed them off by bypassing Future Cycles!
Ron, Martha, Peter, Graham and his son Andrew were there. Ron tried to prise Steve out of bed but without success – he had an excuse after all as he was recovering from flu. Somehow we made our way to Penshurst - I was only asked to write this report later in the ride; and realised that up to that point I had been going round on auto-pilot or more appropriately just following the leader! What I do remember though was an awful lot of water everywhere not to mention the mud on the Forest Way.
The tea-rooms at Penshurst were closed – presumably the owners had escaped to more agreeable climes – so we cajoled Ron into going into the pub next door. Val was concerned about whether they would let me in – I was coated with a fair layer of mud but thought I would be alright if I scraped it off and didn’t turn my back on the publican. Unfortunately I forgot to bring a scraper so hands had to do. We all ordered pots of tea. Good job all the customers are not like us – the pub would soon go out of business!
Andrew was grumbling about wanting some food so Ron placated him by saying we would have another stop soon at Chiddingstone. Eventually got to Chiddingstone and we were in luck! – the tea rooms were open. Most of us ordered the full Monty breakfast but Martha decided to be good and ordered a bowl of good healthy soup which was soon gone. She then proceeded to engage Andrew in lively conversation, slowing his consumption rate considerably and all the time eyeing his breakfast enviously. However the ploy didn’t work because we got fed up waiting and encouraged Andrew to shut up and get on with his breakfast.
While we there another cycling club turned up. They all looked very clean compared to us – perhaps they had parked their cars round the corner! Turned out some of them were city gents which probably explained the bikes outside – a fine collection of Canondales, a Litespeed (£3K) and some weird make. Bonuses must have been good this Xmas.
By this time we had probably spent more time sitting in cafes and pubs than cycling so set off on the return journey with a little initial gusto. Back through Cowden – still lots of water and debris on the roads and to add to this we had the pleasure of the wind trying to blow us sideways into the ditch. After Cowden we took the lane up to Hammerwood past the lakes. Unfortunately this took us past the farm selling goat milk ice-cream. Andrew said he wanted one. We took a vote – all except Val voted against so he had his ice cream. More delays. Martha helped in the end by offering to eat some so we were on our way again before too long.
An uneventful ride back through Ashurstwood and into Forest Row. The light was failing so some of us had put our lights on – I can’t remember a previous ride when we had to do this. The washing machine was busy when we finally got home.
If you took part in a ride, why not write a report? The more florid the language, the more inflated the hyperbole, the more tumescent the innuendo, the greater your chance of winning the FRBC Prize for Original Plagiarism.
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