Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Sevenoaks - 25th October 2009

clockThe forecast for Sunday was very encouraging. The evening before, I'd eaten early, tidied up and put things away. Everything was ready for the morning, and I went round putting all the clocks back an hour and went to bed. Ha! I won't be caught out, I thought. The trouble was, I'd forgotten that my new alarm clock adjusts itself for clock changes, so when it went off in the morning, I thought the BBC announcer had got the time wrong. No, my clock had adjusted itself another hour early. Oh well, I made myself a cup of coffee and took it back to bed.

The weather man was bang on. It was one of those lovely, sunny autumn mornings with a slight chill in the air. I couldn't wait to get on my bike. I've got a 7 mile trip to Forest Row now that I've moved to Lingfield, but I was looking forward to it. I'd climbed up to Dormansland already, swooped down Shovelstrode Lane just in time to notice a pair of deer leap into the woods, then more slowly swooped back up again to Ashurst Wood. Suddenly I was greeted by a lady as she crossed the road in front of me. I didn't recognise her at all. And then it dawned on me. It was TC, the lady who came out with us a few weeks ago, just the once, as she has had to undergo some chemotherapy. Well, she admitted that it was no fun, but she is over the worst and expects to be out with us again as soon as she is able. Good for her.

Outside the bike shop was a gaggle of eager beavers, amongst whom was Christa. She was a bit apprehensive, as she was newly on the bike since her op., and was gingerly trying herself out. Having come out to see us all, she made her way back home, but not before relating to me that her friend uses a train on which the conductor is particularly fierce. He won't stand any nonsense from the passengers who are all nervous of him. Dunno why she thought of me - I'm the cuddliest conductor in the South, I like to think. Anyway………

Ron was there, but unfortunately he had done something horrible to his back that morning whilst he was getting ready to come out. That put paid to his ride, and he limped off home looking a bit fed up. Poor Ron, I hope you are a lot better soon.

That meant, of course, that Graham had to hurriedly figure out a route for us all, and very soon had it cracked. So it was that Kate, Gordon, Steve, Zoë, Don, Chris and myself soon found ourselves following him up the road in anticipation.

I have to confess that it is now nearly two weeks since that ride, (I've been very busy), so the exact route we took escapes me now. However, I do recall having some very informative conversations with one and all. Contrary to popular belief, I do listen to others while I am trying to interrupt, and that is how I learned the following snippets:-

Vintage CarSteve and Zoë had just spent five days on a car rally to Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. They had a really super time, and being one of the first groups to arrive at the hotel, were allocated a penthouse room from where they had a grandstand view in all directions, including towards the Irish Sea. Jammy devils. It must have been smashing for them. I did have a bit of trouble pinpointing them there, 'cos I thought I heard Steve say they were in Northumbria, and I was thinking of Berwick. Never mind, we sorted it out in the end.

Gordon was looking all chuffed with himself, and told me that on the previous Thursday, he'd been out with a couple of his mates, and had cycled all the way up Kidd's Hill without stopping. Not only was it the first time that he has done that for 15 years, he also beat both his chums up there too. He modestly added that they are both over 80. No matter. I remember the first time Gordon came out with us, and he has carried on getting fitter and fitter, and I for one am proud of him.

batherThen Don, the rascal, forgot that it is unwise to confess anything to me when I am in information-gathering mode for this report. He had a glint in his eye whilst he looked around and about, then confided in me that he had recently been swimming at the Kings Centre. On coming out, he happened upon a woman whose face he knew, but couldn't place from whence he knew her. His story is that as he had just come from the baths, he must know her from there, and so felt compelled to try to imagine her standing there in her bathing costume. What? In the middle of the High Street? Does he do this to all women I wonder? You have been warned.

So much information. I was noting all this down when I realised that we were halfway to Sevenoaks. Steve was slightly less than halfway though, because apparently he hadn't seen me go past at the last junction, and was very kindly waiting there for me to appear. Graham decided to go back to tell him, and gave me instructions to lead everyone else to the end of the road and turn left. My memory loss kicked in immediately, and a committee meeting therefore ensued when we got to the end as to which way was correct.

beeJust then, one of life's little pleasures occurred, and out of the sunshine buzzed the biggest bumble bee in that neck of the woods. No-one was gonna mess with him, and if he wanted to land on my glove, that was what he was gonna do. And if he wanted to strut slowly up my wrist and onto my sleeve, well, he was gonna do that too. All the others turned the way Graham had said in the first place, but I was so enthralled, I stood for an age watching Mr. Bumble preen himself. He didn't seem to mind the intrusion, but that was the best, closest and longest look I've had at such a lovely creature, and I'm sure he winked at me just before he buzzed his wings and lifted slowly off home. Magic.

We were getting near to Sevenoaks by this time, and looming in front of us was a long drag up to the top of the North Downs ridge. I fondly remember the last time I went up there leaving Graham gasping in my wake, ha ha!, but this time I could sense he was going to get his revenge. What could I do? Ignominious defeat was imminent. Then like a miracle, Graham said "Cor, did you see the masses of pink berries on that tree? I've never seen so many." "Pink berries?" I replied, "I've never seen any of them. I think I'll go back and have a look.". So not only did I escape from a certain gloat from Graham, (sorry ladies, it's that bloke thing again), but the berries were indeed exceedingly numerous, and it was worth returning just for that, as I had really never seen any that colour before. Graham reckons it was a strain of rowan tree called Joseph Rock. Now we know.

burgerpieKate was hungry now, and was hoping that we were going to her favourite Sevenoaks pub, which turned out to be just where we ended up shortly afterwards. We were all catered for admirably, especially Kate who ate an enormous burger and most of her chips. Chris snuck off for a short while after her lunch. I suspect she went to have a slice of cake that she had been eyeing, but she says not. Anyhow, we were soon on our way and wondering what had happened to our autumn sunshine.

I can't remember a whole lot more about the trip home now, although we must have got back somehow or another. I just know that it's nearly time for bed, and that tomorrow morning I shall be wending my way once again to Forest Row for another few hours of good company and who knows?, perhaps another small adventure. Hope so.

John.

PS. Please spare another thought for Tony, who is still off his bike for a while yet.


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