Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Sevenoaks - 24th July 2014

So, not having been out on a Sunday for a month, (don't ask), I was feeling suitably flabby, unfit, and with jelly legs. Thus I decided to put my fairly spanking new bike in my car and drive to Forest Row, saving me the extra 16 miles.

Arriving at the car park in FR, I noticed a fair number of other cyclists preparing to ride off, and being the reticent type I am, I enquired 'Oi, you lot, where are you going?'. From this I gleaned that they were the Wealden club, and what the **** (that's 'hell', by the way), did it have to do with me? I soon discovered that this is this club which Jane and Martha have lately been riding with, and that J and M were due to arrive soon. And that is what they did. Cuddles all round, even if they didn't want to, and I discovered something else..... They were going to Cowden, which is on the way Graham and I were going. Hurrah!

Having gone round to the front of the bike shop, I met Graham, where, being real men, we admired the wild flower mixture in the garden opposite. Just then, the Wealden came round to where we were, and it seemed that they were going to ride up Wall Hill like we were, so we all set off together. They numbered about 16, like we used to do, so it felt like old times.

Martha had been enveigled to lead her group, and I must admit that she did well to get to the top of Wall Hill, a distance of approximately half a mile, before losing a small contingent, requiring Graham to race after them to remind them who was leading, and that therefore they had to be far more vigilant.

I think it was at the top end of Shovelstrode Lane that we re-grouped, and discovered that Rex had mingled in too. Good to see him, though it pains me to admit it. As we moved off, a man who had been riding with us, stated that he was now going to continue at his own pace, and we left him behind. I only mention this because, after Graham, Rex and I had parted company with the Wealden, we met this other man's double astride his bike outside the church at Cowden, listening to the bells pealing. I had to ask how he had got there before us, and he denied all knowledge of what I was talking about. This is not an unknown experience for me. So onwards Graham, Rex and I ventured.

We had gone but a short distance, when a considerably fat man in lycra, whizzed past me, and then past Graham and Rex, up Butterwell Hill on a racing bike. Blimey, I thought, how can that be? Well, at the top, he had stopped, and it dawned on me that he was just like one of those blokes whom I used to see whilst cycling to work. They'd zoom past like a whippet for effect, then turn into a side road where you'd see them leaning against a lamppost, wheezing. It was but a short distance later, that I enquired of the other two, 'Hey, what did you think of that big, fat bloke overtaking us back there?', at the exact moment that he re-appeared, within hearing distance, at my right shoulder. 'Er, er, er, you know the bloke, what's his name? It'll come to me in a minute' I stammered. Graham sported an immense grin which indicated that he had no intention of assisting me, should this huge guy decide to re-arrange my physiognomy. Thankfully FB decided instead to demonstrate how he could ascend Blower's Hill, and disappear into the distance, which suited me perfectly. The only trouble was that Rex, chatting to FB's mate, had gone straight on, where we intended to do a left into Cow Lane, and Graham had to do a bit more chasing.

A little later came the rolling-down-the-hill-without-pedalling race. Being a little heavy myself at the moment, I was in the lead, but not being as flexible as I once was, I couldn't get down low enough and simultaneously crane my neck upwards enough to quite see where I was headed. Not a good situation at 30-ish miles per hour. It was thus that I took a bend far too wide, and was forced to apply the brakes hard enough to make Graham almost stop, allowing me to win the downhill, and enable Graham to accuse me of foul play. Bad loser! If you think that that is a little childish for a person of my age, you are probably right.

'It's Bayley's Hill next, Rex'. 'Which one's that?'. 'The one I always beat you up', I replied, 'but not this time. I'm too unfit'. And I meant it. But just at that moment, fortune intervened, I heard a crunch of gears, an exclamation, and down went Rex onto the tarmac, where he wriggled around trying to extricate his foot from his pedals. Fair play dictated that I stop to assist him, whereupon we re-started up the hill. A few seconds later it was Groundhog Day. A crunch of gears, an exclamation, and down went Rex onto the tarmac once more. Suppressing a snigger, I assisted him again to gain an upright position, and to adjust his rear derailleur, nipping back on my bike and away sharpish, so I was allowed a bit of a gloat at the top of the hill as he struggled in, in third place. If you think that that is a little childish for a person of my age, you are probably right. I observed that in future, I would not have to defer to him as I had hitherto done, as judging from the leakage from his knee, he didn't, after all, have blue blood.

Would you believe it? Two minutes after remounting his bike, the poor Rex wobbled into the road verge, and only just managed to stay on. Is there some other sport which interests you, perhaps, Rex?

Soon, all that remained was a long drop down into Sevenoaks, where Graham christened Rex and me The Lardy Boys, for being heavy enough for him not to win, the scrawny loser. It was not long after this that Rex was henceforth dubbed 'Trex', which with persistence should stick.

And so to the cafe in Sevenoaks, where happily there were seats aplenty on this summer's day, and we all ate splendidly, if Sevenoaks expensively, whilst discussing Brexit, Remain, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Sport, Hazel Blears, Nicola Sturgeon, Nigel Farage, Tony Benn, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Bob Crow, Owen Smith, and possibly others. We each threatened to punch the others, the other two backed down, therefore I won the argument. Ha! If you think that that is a little childish for a person of my age, you are probably right.

Homeward bound, and on the steep drop down York's Hill, we had to take evasive action to avoid a large car coming up. Rex had been in front, and pointed out that he had shouted to warn those of us behind. As we hadn't heard him, he explained that he had necessarily been shouting forwards. He was informed how surprising this was, as usually he was to be heard speaking out of his a**e. Friendly club, eh? Rex, to his credit, came back with a really good rejoinder, which, conveniently, I choose not to remember. If you think that that is a little childish, etc., etc.

And finally, Rex went straight on when we turned off to Hartfield, Graham made a detour just before Forest Row for what he said was an uninteresting reason, but wouldn't tell me what it was, and I hobbled back to my car, which I'm pleased I had the foresight to park at Forest Row.

Happy Days!

(If you think, understandably, that this report has been all about me, me, me, then please feel free to write one all about you, you, you. Regards, John).


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