Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Staplefield, Nay, Tunbridge Wells, 23rd. March, 2008.

The snow it was a-snowing as I went to the garage to get my bike ready. Does that sentence look at all similar to last week's opener?

Repairs to bikes carried out during the week, I had been looking forward to today. But not so much now. I selected my warmest clothing and pedalled towards the usual destination four miles distant, keeping my head low to shield my eyes from the snowflakes. Once again I used the road to avoid looking like Don had done 7 days ago, ie. a human midden. (Sorry Don). Rounding the corner to the bike shop I immediately espied half of the Chadwick family, Graham and Andrew, both sporting balaclava-type thingies, and the latter wearing a flashy new bike helmet. Both looked pleased to see me. Now this is a reaction I seldom experience, and of course I may have been mistaken, but it just may be that the hardy pair had begun to think that they were the only ones to arrive and had become desperate for company, no matter whom.

On arrival, I noticed a grey van exactly like Ron's parked outside the bike shop. 'Ha!, he has come in his van with some excuse', I thought. But Ron wasn't there, and Andrew explained that the said van had a huge dent in the side, had no bike rack on the back, was a Ford Transit, right hand drive, with no side windows, but apart from that, it did resemble Ron's van a bit. I felt obliged to punch him, him being several stones lighter that me.

Just then, over the horizon rode a very reluctant-looking Ron. I could see he was thinking 'Oh no!, there's people there waiting for me to lead them on a ride, why don't they just bugger off and let me go back home to bed?'. Some of us are made of sterner stuff.

I transpired that Ron had already been in contact with Graham earlier, and intimated that he would turn up solely to gauge the weather, but probably wouldn't be going anywhere. It was for this reason that Kate had decided not to get all togged up only to go home again. She had better things to do. As is usual at times like this, such as when the weather is not playing fair with us, we huddled together, in a manly way of course, and larked about, pretending not to care about the weather, and castigating all of the lesser mortals who were still toasty in bed. We passed the time taking advantage of Kate's absence by bullying Andrew, which is quite fun when there are three of us against him. We discussed renaming the FRBC as the Forest Row Bullying Club. This went on 'til way past the time when we would normally leave.

No-one else was going to turn up, so off we meandered towards the Forest Way and Tunbridge Wells, the trusty standby in times of bad weather. We were later to remark that nearly always when we go there it is raining. Simply 'cos its more or less the closest when we can't face a longer ride.

Reaching the bridge at Hartfield, Ron went up to see if Steve was coming out. He had guests whom he had managed to persuade to stay on awhile, so he had a very good excuse. We soldiered on without him, berating him for sending Ron away without a flask of something hot for us all.

Damper and damper, and looking more and more as Don had done, we arrived at the Black Pudding Café at TW, where we fed handsomely.

Out into the cold again, we soon warmed up after a fashion, by climbing up Major Yorkes Road, then along the footpath where we had earlier received a very polite ticking off from Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells for riding our bikes there. Whizz down, shiver, then climb up to High Rocks, then rollercoaster to the beginning of the Forest Way again. Blue sky in the distance became closer and closer, 'til we arrived at Java and Jazz in sporadic watery sunshine, but covered halfway to the waist in filth. The lovely management let us in anyway, and hot drinks fortified us all for the short journey back home, where I, for one, made good use of the garden hose on my bike and myself from the waist down before daring to enter the happy Aitken abode.

John.


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