Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Reigate - 13th November 2016

Oh! Joy! Sunday. Not the ride, but the moment afterwards when I can speak the unbridled truth about the happenings during it. Normally, one goes through life being exceedingly polite to all and sundry, however much one wants to tell them like it is. But this is the time when I can. So here goes.

This morning was a glorious, sunny, if cool one. I decided to ride to FR because I was going to cut away before we returned there. I arrived with about 10 minutes to spare, and took up my seat in the bus shelter, where the sun, low in the sky, shone in my eyes. Not long after, Sienna appeared across the road, and having dismounted, asked me how I was. “About 400 years old”, I replied, for that was the truth. “Surely only 399”, she replied, and gave me a hallo hug. Now this hadn’t happened before, and suddenly some bluebirds appeared from who-knows-where, the sun peeped through her golden hair like a halo, and my heart did that thing that a man’s heart does. It hadn’t done that since that time when, er, but that is for another occasion.

Reality dawned in the shape of Graham and Steve, and a bit later of course, Trex. I switched off after the second syllable of his pretext, but when I enquired from which page of his Book of Excuses he had taken it, he instantly replied ‘Page 37’. So it’s true.

Away we went, and I expected to ride along the Forest Way to East Grinstead. Indeed, I had been looking forward to it, because as I had descended Wall Hill a little earlier, I thought how relieved I was not to have to grovel up it again. How was it, then, that almost immediately I found myself facing, you’ve guessed, Wall Hill? It was all worth it, though, when nearing the top, we espied a wonderful shrub growing over a garden wall, laden with scarlet berries standing proud in the sun. What a sight! Steve, the one who is knowledgeable in loads of things about nature, instantly named the plant, but I shall have to ask him to remind me, I’m afraid.

I decided to easily glide past Graham to claim the first sign of the day at East Grinstead, (if you don’t count Ashurst Wood, which I’m not going to), and soon appeared the road past Old Surrey Hall, a magnificent building where, incidentally Tony Everitt was born. We passed the Hall on our climb up to Hollow Lane, though at least one of us missed the sight whilst puffing upwards and bouncing over the sleeping policemen. She knows who she is.......

I was beginning to wonder which way Graham was misleading us, and I wondered even more when we rode through Lingfield with 15 miles on my Garmin, and not half a mile from Aitken Castle. Surely this wasn’t planned. I could have had another hour in bed. And Graham had meanly got his own back by claiming the Lingfield sign, breaking the unwritten rule of never claiming another chap’s home sign. The bounder.

It wasn’t long until we turned into Bones Lane, and I was able to point out a small war memorial to Polish, Indian and Canadian airmen, indicating the site of a WWII airfield, which had curiously straddled the road where we stood. It had first been shown to me by my neighbour Ross, a New Zealander. There are now just fields. Sadly, there were only a couple of aged poppies adorning the memorial, surprising, as this was Remembrance Sunday. Without ado, Sienna terrificly produced a new poppy from somewhere and affixed it. Sterling stuff.

Trex, in a fit of petulance, took the sign for Horne, and shortly afterwards, we climbed that short sharp hill up to Outwood, with the windmill at the top. Thence to Brickfields Lane, which slopes gently downward for about a mile. Now roads like that suit me, and I felt like a bit of a blast. Having left the others behind, I zoomed past the church halfway down, and realised too late that the service going on outside was a remembrance service. Stopping at the T-junction at the far end, Steve, Graham and Sienna arrived on the dot of 11 o’clock, so we stood still for our 2 minutes’ silence. Excellently, Trex had stopped outside the church, the better place, and observed his own 2 minutes. Not knowing the name of the place we had stopped, Graham had a stab with Drover’s Green. I looked it up a minute ago, and it is, in fact, Shepheard’s Hurst, spelled like that, and I for one had never heard of it. Had you?

D’you remember that bloke who built a superb imposing house on his farm without planning permission? He surrounded it with straw bales so it couldn’t be detected, and after 4 years revealed it, believing he had successfully flouted the law. We cycled near the land where it had been, and Steve pointed out that bulldozers ordered by the courts had finally won the day. Shame, but let that be a lesson to us all.

Trex pulled up sharply and re-traced his path slightly. Another mechanical? No, just a dead squirrel in the road. Trex, breakfast won’t be long, just wait. But no, he was doing his thing, saving more scavenging birds from being squashed by vehicle tyres. Commendable indeed.

After negotiating the very narrow and busy climb before the park at Reigate, Graham yet again used his lock to secure all our bikes outside Morrison’s, where we gratefully entered for a feed and a rest, and for a change I remembered to take my money into the store and actually pay for something.

Nearing the front of the queue, Trex asked me what I was having for breakfast. I informed him of my choice, soup of the day, to which he imparted that he had already put the cutlery on our table, but had omitted the soup spoons. As it turned out, there was no soup, so I had to change my order. It was fun explaining to Trex that I had only done that as there was not the appropriate spoon on the table. “Well”, said Steve, “One shouldn’t have to collect one’s own cutlery when one has a man to do it for one, should one?”. I quite agree. Trex, you’re fired.

During our food, I was eventually able to get a word in, and after 10 minutes or so, I detected a general atmosphere of p***-taking in the air. I sulkily came to a halt with the words ‘The End’. A nano-second later Sienna declared “But it isn’t though, is it John?”. Amidst cackles from the others, I wrung out of her a begrudging “Well, some of it was very nearly interesting”, before I agreed that in that case, I wouldn’t leave the club after all. Showed them!

Sienna began a story about her heroic derring-dos climbing Mount Snowdon. Trex and I agreed that there were several inconsistencies in her account, me particularly as I had a grudge because she had just made me look daft. “Oh really, Sienna? I take it you have some evidence of this epic adventure”, I ventured with a flourish. Whereupon she produced about a hundred photos of it on her phone. The blue birds well and truly vanished, and there was egg on my face for a second time.

Trex, changing the subject, alerted me to two very elderly ladies whom he had noticed had passed by outside more than once. “We’d better go, I think they’re after our bikes”, he warned. And so we left a bit smartish. They’d have to be quicker than that.

Reigate was a big clogged with traffic up that first hill, but soon we turned off and got the blood coursing round again. I had decided to forgive Sienna, and began talking about my forthcoming trip to Belgium to watch the Ghent 6-day Race. Having asked me what that entailed, the lovely lady soon realised that I was going to take 6 days to explain it, and seemed to leave me a way behind.

That’s it then, I’ll talk at Graham. Which is how I found out from him that he had been out on Friday, but had only done 45 miles. Only 45 miles? He said that now he felt a bit jaded. Really? This was my opportunity. Halfway home, I chose my moment and claimed the Crawley Down sign, which he’s never let me do before. But then he rode straight past Sandy Lane where I was waiting to turn, with a sardonic grin on his face. So, we were going even further off of the usual route. It dawned on me that Turner’s Hill was the way. Groan!! But Graham, jaded?? Was this another opportunity? Did I have enough left? Of course I did. Knowing exactly where the sign was, I chose my moment, and va-va-voom. Mark Cavendish? Who’s he?

My last fizzing effort having cost me everything, I grovelled up to the summit of Turner’s Hill, knowing that I’d have a pretty long, if lonely descent to East Grinstead and on to home, leaving Graham, Steve, Sienna and Trex to fight it out amongst themselves to Forest Row.

John


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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