Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Leader or Loser? A report from my ride of Sunday 27th Feb. 2011.

Last Sunday saw me leading a group of club members on a ride to Redhill Aerodrome. I say leading a group, but it was more like losing a group, though not all at once.

I started my part of the ride from East Grinstead station, Graham and Stuart having brought up a group from Forest Row. So we were Christine, Zoe, Don, Richard, Steve, Peter and me at the station; and Graham, Stuart, Ross, Ron and John from Forest Row.

In hindsight, I guess I made a mistake when I said we were starting by walking over the footbridge, but that we were not going along the Worth Way.

And so we started as said, and I led the long string of riders, eleven in total, up and round Crescent Road, into Maypole Road, left onto the A22 and right at the roundabout into Lingfield Road to make our way to Lingfield. I say eleven, but in fact by then we were already down to ten. Don had met a friend of his late wife as we crossed the footbridge and stopped for a chat expecting to catch up. Unfortunately, by using words like, "we are not going along the Worth Way"; Don had assumed that was the general direction we were heading, but avoiding Worth Way. And so after his chat, he steamed off to catch us up towards Felbridge and the Snowhill Garden Centre.

It was not until we reached the outskirts of Lingfield, where we regrouped, that I found out that Don was missing. We waited several minutes and some recalled him stopping to talk to a lady. A consensus of opinions said we should carry on, and that Don would probably abandon the ride or make his own way to the aerodrome.

One down, ten to go.

What I didn't know was that Ron decided to go back and find Don. It was not until another few miles later, that I was told Ron was not with us. Graham had tried to phone him but didn't really understand what Ron was doing, except that he would meet us at the aerodrome.

Two down, nine to go.

Just after crossing the A22 before Tilburstow Hill, Peter's chain came off. Re-fitting it was quite difficult and took about five minutes. Most of the group had cycled on, knowing we were going to cycle up the hill. I had already primed Stuart that I intended to make a break at the car park at the top of the hill overlooking the low land towards East Grinstead. So when I eventually arrived there with Peter, I was surprised to find I had lost another rider. I was then told that Ross had turned back somewhere? (Lingfield - Ed.) Apparently, he had not intended cycling the whole way as he had something on later. I was unaware of this.

Three down, eight to go.

Gathering the remaining riders, we sped down the long hill to turn left onto the very busy A25. A short uphill into Bletchingly, we gathered again outside the PH before the long downhill towards Outwood Mill. Still all present.

The downhill is soon passed and it's a gentle slog up to the mill itself. Waited a bit for all the troops to gather, and we are still all present. A right turn, again a nice long down hill to the "T" junction near to the now closed "Dog and Duck", and right again. It's now only a few miles to the aerodrome, with just the odd short climb. It's now 12.30 and we are all there.

I learned afterwards that we had just missed Don and Ron by five minutes. They were now making their way back to East Grinstead.

The forecast had predicted rain in the early afternoon, and when we left the café, rain was in the air. We made our way back to Smallfield, all fairly flat, but a bit of a head wind in places. Steve had said that he and Zoe would be taking the shorter ride home. Beyond Smallfield on the back road towards Copthorne, I turned right towards Burstow church, and after a hundred yards or so, a look in my mirror showed that I was on my own. The rest were gathered at the junction. Should I go back to see what was amiss? Then one by one they cycled towards me. It was Zoe and Peter who had left us, not Zoe and Steve as I half expected.

Five down, six to go.

Making our way round Burstow Church was really the first time I had spoken to Richard, apart from when he introduced himself at the station, where he was sweating having just cycled from Pound Hill in 25 minutes. For Richard, the ride had been interesting, as he was not familiar with the roads in our area.

Now it was to Copthorne, round the busy roundabout with the link road to the M23, towards Crawley, and left into Old Hollow. This is a steady climb with a nasty bit at the end. Exhausted, I reached the others who were assembled across the road where the farm track leads to the Worth Way. Here, Christine and Richard said their goodbyes and cycled back towards Crawley and their homes. Rain was now defiantly in the air, with the first few drops falling.

Seven down, four to go.

When asked which way we were going now, I said through Crawley Down and Felbridge. I was behind when we started this part of the ride. Luckily, John was waiting for me before I reached the Worth Way crossing, where some observant cyclists said that one man in blue (presumably Steve) had turned onto the Worth Way, and two others had been seen cycling towards Rowfant (presumably Graham and Stuart). John chased them down, while I attempted to catch Steve on the trail. By the old Rowfant station I hadn't caught up with Steve and waited, as agreed, for John. John turned up a few minutes later, assuming that Graham and Stuart must have gone to Turners Hill.

Ten down, only John left.

By now it was raining and so we made our way along the trail and via Imberhorne Farm to the end of Crossways Avenue, where we talked for a little longer getting very wet in the now heavy rain. Here, John left me to make his way back home in Lingfield.

Eleven down, only me left.

Leader or Loser?

Gordon


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