Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Sevenoaks - 22nd September 2013

Graham and Stuart have just been on a serious bike ride to Nice, and weren't out today, so I had volunteered to lead the ride to Sevenoaks. I'd had a good kip, got up in good time and didn't feel too bad at all as I begun the ride to FR to meet the crowd.

I was wondering what adventures the day would bring, as I often do, but unfortunately I am now of the age when I am often still wondering at the end of the day what it was that had happened. Luckily, today the drugs were working a treat. Lance would have been proud of me.

I took it fairly easy there, because the weather was surprisingly mild, and I was getting a bit warm. Sitting on the wall outside what was Future Cycles, I had a squint at the two bikes displayed in the window of the now empty shop, together with the sign promising the arrival soon of In Gear cycles from Uckfield. That'll be good. I cooled down and wondered where everyone was. No Ron, no Tony or Val, no Steve, Jane or Martha, or Don or Christa, no Zo? or Roz? Oh well, a couple of minutes after 9.30 I decided to set off for Sevenoaks on my own. I don't know what made me look over my shoulder after I set off, but lucky I did, 'cos there was Peter just arriving. Pete had brought me a couple of Veteran Cycle Club magazines which I was to stuff in my pocket after he had carried them to the top of Wall Hill for me. In Shovelstrode Lane, which was on the way, we were to meet Steve, Gordon and another John, whom I'd not met before, but who has been out once, a couple of weeks ago. Steve had to go back home straight away, as he has been having some work done at home, and has to finish building a wall before the builders come. No, I don't understand it either, but that is what he said. It's like when your Mum hoovers the house from top to bottom because the cleaner is due today.

Off we others went, and I learned that the new John has now retired from the Health and Safety Executive, and can of course get out on his bike now, family events permitting. Gordon told me that John had been involved in the investigation into the Kings Cross Station fire which happened almost 26 years ago, and where 31 people were killed. Apparently, a one third size model of the station was built, and set on fire to study the pattern of fire and smoke travel, resulting in modifications to numerous other Underground stations. I was particularly interested in that because one of the unfortunate 31 was a fire officer who was a member of my other cycling club. Poor old Colin Townsley.

We had a very pleasant ride to Cowden, passing along Furnace Lane, where the sawn remains of the huge fallen tree which prevented us all traversing that road about a month ago are still lying. For those of you who were not there on that day, we had to dismount because of the tree, and were just in the process of lifting the first bike over the large trunk, when a police car arrived and told us that we weren't permitted to do that, as the branches were touching a cable. The fact that it was a telephone cable, and had probably been in contact with the tree when it was still upright made no difference. We had to retrace our steps and divert via the main Tunbridge Wells road.

Anyway, at Cowden I adjusted my intended route so I could go a bit further with the others, and we all had a downhill non-pedalling race. I was a bit in front of Gordon, and he let out a shout because apparently I had cut him up a bit. He had to brake to avoid me, allowing me to win by about a yard and a half. So that was alright then. Yubbadubbadooo! (Do you remember Fred Flintstone?).

Gordon was still talking to me, because he asked me to explain a modification I had made to the gears on my other bike. "Let's stop just up the road", I said, "and I'll show you". When I'd got off my bike and turned it upside down, I realised that the gears on this bike were different. I gamely pointed out what I meant anyway, getting oil all over my hands in the process, and Gordon said he now understood. I don't know if he was just being polite, though, because he had one of those looks on his face which I have been well used to seeing on other faces for years, and which always mean "What the hell are you on about?".

A bit later we all stopped for a moment, and Gordon said he just wanted a breather. In fact, he had stopped to make sure we were all OK, as he was leading the Four Elms section of the ride. The kindly chap. Just after that, though, there was a bit of a hill, and he told me that the last time he had passed that way, he had had to get off and walk, whereas he looked like he'd sailed up it today. Good on you, Gordon.

All good things come to an end, and eventually I left the intrepid three to continue their journey to Four Elms without me. I hadn't even gone a mile, when I saw a few cyclists coming towards me, and who should be among them, but Alex? I'm sure he was delighted when I decided to divert from my course so I could ride along with him for a while, because he immediately explained to his companion, Hilton, that whenever we were in a café, everybody had to wait for me to finish eating, as I had been telling at least four enormously long stories. It must have been a joke. I did notice that Hilton hadn't got the joke though, because he gave me a bit of a wide berth.

The short diversion I'd made took us to Bough Beech reservoir, where Alex wanted to stop for a drink. We remarked how low the water was at this time, which was slightly strange, as we've had a couple of really wet days just lately. It was here that Alex was saying that I lived somewhere in his road, but he wasn't quite sure where. As I expained exactly where it was, Hilton said that was where his daughter lives. Hey Presto! It turned out that she lives about 50 yards from me and I've spoken at her quite a few times. What a small world! Normally, of course, I just see her door closing as I come near.

Alex has been having some trouble with one of his knees, and can't seem to sort it out. That's why he's been going out on shorter rides lately and not seen us. He assured me that it is not because the last time he came out with us, and he had his daughter along too, that I took my eye off the road for a nano-second, and ran into her, knocking her off of her bike. He promised. I'm sure it is true, because I prefer to think that she just swooned as I was so close. Very understandable.

Goodbyes were said, (did I hear a sigh of relief somewhere?), and soon I was back on course. As I approached a T-junction where I was to turn left, another cyclist went past, and I fell in a few yards behind him as we went towards Bayley's Hill. He wasn't that far ahead, and remained about the same distance from me for a while, but finally I had to change down and give him best. Imagine my glee, however, on reaching the top, to find him slumped over his handlebars having a gasp, while I cycled smugly past listening to his lungs trying to work. Ha!

I spent a very pleasant hour in a café in 7oaks, eating scrambled egg on pancetta bread with bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers. Very poash. And very enjoyable too, even if I did discover the hard way that the peppers were, in fact, chilli peppers. Whoever described them as chilli, the exact opposite of what they are? However, it in no way spoiled my enjoyment, as I flicked through the magazines that Peter had given me earlier, and drank my coffee.

My return home was uneventful, once I'd got the legs moving again, and even if the blue bits that the Met.Office had promised me didn't materialize, it was still very pleasant. So, having had a soothing G+T while typing this, my first ride report for 19 months, I'm off for a spot of fodder before tumbling under the duvet. What a life!

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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