Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Stanmer Park - 30th April 2017

For those of you who don’t know, and I’m sure that there are also a number of you who don’t care, I suffered an accident recently which put me back at least a couple of weeks. I built myself up to trying a ride, and having turned up at the bike shop last Wednesday, I found no-one there. I pretty soon realised that I had turned up at 0930 instead of 0900, so phoned Graham to find out what was the day’s plan. He answered me from a Spanish golf course to tell me it was 20°C there and he couldn’t care less. No-one else showed, so I went home.

This morning was a bit different. I arrived in plenty of time (did you notice that Trex?) to find Paul waiting at the shop, obviously expecting to start at 0900. I explained that he was an idiot, as anyone knows that it is 0930 on Sundays. How could anyone get the start time wrong? It takes all sorts. So I had plenty of time to talk at Paul before the others arrived. The others being Graham, (having arrived home from Spain, obviously), and Martha. Steve had some domestic arrangements which prevented him coming. We waited for Trex. And we waited for Trex. And..........eventually it dawned on me that my mood had perked up no end. Finally we set off up Priory Road.

It was apparent to me almost straight away that today wasn’t going to be one of my sparkliest ones. However, I pressed on, safe in the knowledge that the lovely Kate was going to meet us all at the café for lunch, and would take me home by car if I needed.

As we climbed, Martha explained how she had recently put her bike into the shop for a service. She had had all the cables shortened, as they should have been in the first place, but that they didn’t have the right colour handlebar tape, her front mech was now making a noise, and the bloke in the shop had patronised her because she is a woman. I explained that all this was perfectly normal, and asked what she was complaining about. Was I wrong? Why did she stop talking to me? Women!

We were riding along round about Horsted Keynes when I stopped, having seen a slow worm in the middle of the road. Either it was dead, I thought, or it is living up to its name. It was the latter. After I touched it, it lazily made for the other side of the road. Left to its own devices, it would have arrived in time for Guy Fawkes’ Night. The others assured me that slow worms only bite cyclists’ fingers, and then only lightly, so I gingerly assisted the blighter across the road to safety. What a hero! (I have since learned that adders dress up in slow worm costumes in preparation for their May Day parade. I may have had a lucky escape there).

We cycled merrily along whilst I described to everyone the details of my accident, and then repeated it all, twice, to extract the maximum sympathy. It became quite a task to keep up with everyone, as they appeared to find some extra energy from somewhere. As my breath ran out, they seemed to slow down a bit. Funny, that.

Streat came and went, and soon we were bowling along Underhill Road, towards the bottom of Ditchling Beacon. I was feeling so good, (not), that I could hardly wait for the hill, (not). And suddenly there it was. Sensibly I had brought my lightest bike with the lowest gears. Halfway up, Martha described how the hill was nowhere near as bad as she had remembered. I informed her that we were only, in fact, about a third of the way up, and she instantly altered her opinion, and began what turned out to be another long period of whingeing. Oxygen having been administered to her at the summit, she began to behave as if nothing had happened.

About 10 minutes after we had reached the top, and after one nameless man called Paul had pushed his bike to the summit, another group of riders arrived in dribs and drabs. (What is a drib? Or for that matter, a drab?). One of these riders asked me to use his camera to take a photo of them all. I had to be restrained from taking selfies with it before I complied with his request. Martha later explained how much she wanted to join their club, as their jersey colours matched those of her bike. Well really, how vain of her!

We bade farewell to that club whose name escapes me, without any of their shirts, and descended to the café. Bikes locked by Graham, we joined the long queue to order our food. “Quick, grab that table”, someone shouted. The table was grabbed. “No, grab that table, it’s nearer”, the same person shouted. All our kit was moved again. Kate appeared, and said she’d already purloined a space inside for us all, so we collected our stuff for a third time, and moved into the warmth of the inside tables.

Despite the long queue, our orders were promptly taken, and our food was just as promptly delivered to us. All too soon I was invited to shut up and finish my coffee as we were going to leave.

I had never realised just how strong Martha was, until she forced my arm up by back and made me agree to give up my place in Kate’s car for the journey home. “OK, five pounds”, I whimpered, and the deal was done. So I was going to ride my bike all the way home, then. Some peoples’ selfishness can only be described as ‘Me, me, me’. So Martha was swiftly renamed as Mimi. Let it stick, just as Trex has.

A long-ish trek to Kate’s car ensued, interrupted by a visit to the gardens of the nearby churchyard, where Kate had seen what has to be admitted was a spectacular Judas tree, in full bloom. How it acquired that name I don’t know, but it was certainly of quite an age. Even older than Graham, I would guess.

Paul, Graham and I began our weary way home. We pretty soon found ourselves whizzing alongside the A27 towards Lewes. Some of you will recall that this cycle path is slightly downhill, and normally has a stiff south-westerly wind pushing you along. Today’s was a south-easterly, but was almost as good. So, soon enough we were passing Lewes Prison, then the Meridian Line, then Pell’s Pool, which today was empty of water, for refurbishments, I suppose. We crossed the bridge over the River Ouse, where in the past Steve has pointed out Grey Mullet basking there, but this time Paul drew attention to the amount of mud in the water, and suggested it should be re-named the River Ooze.

It wasn’t too long later that we passed the almost-picked-bare carcass of an unfortunate deer blocking the opposite lane of our road home. “Blimey, Graham, what did you think of that?”, I enquired. “What?”, he replied. I can only assume he was dreaming about something else at the time, such as, how come I am such a superior cyclist, and better looking than him too? If Trex had been there, he would have had palpitations until he was able to move the poor beast off of the road.

Soon enough, we had arrived at Wych Cross, and there was only the zoom down into FR to be accomplished. Once there, Graham and I waited for quite a while for the arrival of Paul. Eventually Graham cycled off, asking me to pass on his goodbyes to Paul. However, just after he had left, two ambulances went two-toning back up towards Wych Cross, still with no sign of Paul. Nothing for it but for me to hurriedly put my bike in my car and head off back up the hill to see what had happened to him. But the cheeky bounder was already in the car park, putting his bike back on his car, having sneaked past us at the finish line. Well, that was good news anyway. All that remained for me was to drive home to a bottle of something or other, a meal of something or other and er, a doze before bed. See you all soon.

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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