Forest Row Bike Club
Supposed-to-be-Priory Gardens: 19 November 2006
Whatever it was that I was drinking last evening was obviously not ginger beer, ‘cos as I leaned out and switched off the alarm, I immediately returned to my dream about those young ladies back at last week’s tea stop. (That’s seven nights now). Hence my phone call to Ron an hour later. ‘Sorry Ron, running a bit late. Which way are you going?’ ‘Meet us at EG station’.
So, pausing only to untangle myself from the duvet, wash the detritus from my face, (not a short task), decide what style to have my hair this week, drag on sufficient clothing for a beautifully sunny but crisp November morning and oil my chain, I pedalled up the road to meet the gang. Blimey, this is such a lovely day, I thought, I’ll ride along the Way until I meet them. Now, either the FRBC is the slowest bike club in the south of England, or I’m fitter than I thought I was. I plummeted down the short sharp hill onto the Way, and slowing only to pass all the dog excercisers, runners and walkers, still had time to marvel at the red, yellow and brown leaves, all glistening in the rays of sunshine shafting through the overhanging branches and gently dappling the…….. (Crikey, what was that I was drinking?). Anyway, you know that gate across the path which is almost the whole way to Forest Row? Well that’s how far I got before I met, coming the other way, Ron, Peter, Graham, Martha, Steve and Martin.
No matter. I received 6 lovely smiles, tempered by 6 ribald remarks, and I knew I was once again among my mates. Back along the track, we passed all the people I’d only a few moments ago greeted with a cheery ‘Good Morning’, only this time to be met with several cries of ‘Oh, its you again. Why don’t you watch where you’re going?’. Happy days.
At EG station, our numbers were swelled to 11 on the arrival of Gordon, Zoë, Don and Christa. It was nice to see Christa out, and looking so well after last week, when she was still suffering the after-effects of a chest cold. It also gave Ron an excuse to enquire after Christa’s chest. He was very lucky that Christa didn’t tell him to mind his own business. And Zoë was looking rather fetching in matching mauve sunglasses and helmet. Some ungallant so-and-so was going to include her nose in the matching ensemble, but that was so rude, I won’t even mention it. Anyway, Zoë’s made of sterner stuff. Don, too, looked resplendent. Martin remarked that it must have been cold, as Don had actually covered his legs for the first time this year. True, but I’m not sure that fishnet stockings are really appropriate for a Sunday, Don.
Notable absences this week were Hilary, who hadn’t promised to be there and wasn’t, and Jane, who had promised to be there but still wasn’t. The committee decided that in the absence of notes from the pair of them during the week, they will receive a verbal warning when next they appear. So there.
Onward, along the Worth Way, and through Crawley Down, Furnace Green and on to Domewood Park. What abodes. Their garden sheds are bigger than most people’s houses. The whole area must be full of retired firemen. No good being jealous.
Christa had to leave us at this point because her son was bringing her grandchildren over to lunch, and she hadn’t even peeled the spuds yet. And it wasn’t long before Peter baled out too, having an appointment that afternoon at a circle dance at which he was going to be the only man. Well, who can blame him?
Soon afterwards, Martin persuaded Ron that the café at Redhill aerodrome would be a nice place to stop, being a) close to Priory Gardens and b) cheaper that Priory Gardens. Who could disagree? It was only half past eleven, and we were all still full with breakfast, but what the heck. The aerodrome it was. Some of us showed great restraint, given the early time of day and the miniscule mileage we’d so far covered, but others, Ron, Graham and Martha, in fact, went for The Full Monty fry-up, with Graham going for an extra order of black pudding, of which he is rather fond, and about which he is still smarting ‘cos it was missing from his mega-breakfast last time we went to Isfield. Anyway, he was so replete, he couldn’t finish his toast, which he kindly offered to me to eat with my remaining baked beans. Thanks for that, Graham.
Why is it that the steepest hills always come immediately after a huge breakfast? Well, we had to climb the monster all the way up into Nutfield, but then had the super whizz down through Bletchingley, punctuated only by the greetings of the motorists whom we’d held up only momentarily as they sped along the A25. Well, I hope it made them feel better.
Rabies Heath Road. Funny name. I wonder where that originated from. It’s a gradual climb up for a couple of miles, and one is rewarded, if the weather is as clear as it was today, by a magnificent view from the top of the North Downs. Today excelled itself, as the autumn leaves were at their peak. (Shame Ron wasn’t, as it took him a quarter of an hour to stop gasping).
Two off-roaders were already sitting there admiring the view, and they were very polite to us and asked all about the club, and where we’d been etc. As soon as Ron could breathe, he tried to recruit them, because one of them was young, blonde and lovely. The other one was big, male and muscle-bound, so Ron eased off a bit, got the hump, and led everyone else off down Tilburstow Hill. I, on the other hand, engaged them in conversation, and when I eventually noticed their eyelids drooping, realised that I’d been left behind. What luck that I’d brought my mobile. Even better luck, Ron answered his before he realised it was me, and soon I was back among my mates.
Meandering on, we passed what has now been christened ‘Christa’s Corner’ after her undignified fall one slippery morning some months ago, and on through Crowhurst and Lingfield.
A long, straight road. A twinge of adrenalin in my legs. Martin alongside. A moment of madness. ‘You see, that blue sign in the distance, Martin? Well, last one there’s a cissy’. The cheat didn’t even stop to answer, but was away like a whippet. No problem, I’ll catch him easy-peasy. Acceleration like a Ferrari. I was after him. Hang on, this is not as eaay as I thought. More effort, laboured breathing. Ah, that’s it. Drawing up alongside him now. Yes! I’m in front, not much, but in front. Must be nearly there. Look up. What? It’s still miles away.What’s he doing? He’s coming past me. I don’t believe it. I’m standing on the pedals as if my life depended on it. My eyes are getting stars in them, my legs are burning, and I can’t do any more. The blue sign zooms past, and Martin is The Sprint Champion of 2006. And I’m the cissy.
So, with Martin sporting a big cheesy grin, and with me hanging my head, we wended our way through Dormansland and along the path that abuts the railway line towards EG. But what’s this? A sign announces that a £2.2 million sewer system is being installed and the road is closed. Huh! Won’t stop the FRBC. We had to duck under some trees, through some mud, scale a wire fence, lift all the bikes over, carry them across a narrow concrete beam over a stream, over another wire fence and back onto the road. Luckily, everybody made it, except Ron, who got inextricably tangled at the last fence, whilst being video-ed on Martha’s mobile phone. Ha ha…
Can’t wait to see it.
Thence, still laughing, up the hill into EG, where Zoë, Gordon, and Don departed, and Martha punctured, refusing all offers of help, preferring to wake her old man up and get him to pick her up in the car.
And so it was that myself, Ron, Steve and Martin found ourselves at last having a coffee in the café at Forest Row, where it was Ron’s turn to ogle the lascivious lovelies through the window as we sat in the last of the day’s sunshine. Ah, bliss!
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