Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

There and back again, lost and found - Tunbridge Wells 11th May 2008

We assembled, all 14 of us, in our different shirts, at ease with one and other (sic), ready for what was to be the long way to Tunbridge Wells. We slipped away along the Hartfield road, rode strongly, or not, up the first of the hills to Coleman's Hatch, and enjoyed the first of the steep downhill swoops as we made our way, on a warm May morning, towards the climb to the top of the Forest. What a pleasure it was to be out, on bikes.

Steady climbing, easier for some than for others, to the wide landscapes at the top. Bright sunshine, steady cycling. A first overshoot, a first, successful call of 'This way!', and the overshooter is ready to join the others, most of whom are already travelling fast down the hill. A second overshoot, and this time the speeding member who shot past the turn has not been recovered. Still, there will be a reunion later on.

A gathering at Crowborough Cross. Time to notice the Constitutional Club, for those, we assume, who are in the habit of taking constitutionals. And Conan Doyle, who continues to stand as if waiting, patiently, for a bus. Time to absorb the overshooter. Time to get on.

We remain in up-and-down country. At the Boar's Head, we swoop down again, somewhere in deepest East Sussex, or maybe even Kent. Someone has been left behind? One or two wait at the turn. Otherwise, we ride by the side of an open valley, a private world, to a familiar cross-roads. We are to turn right, up the hill.

Rested, the hill, though steep, looks short. It is there to be tackled, fearlessly.

So, … the towering Alps we try
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky
The eternal snows appear already passed,
And, those attain'd, we tremble to survey
The growing labours of the lengthen'd way,
The increasing prospect tires our wandering eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!

Just so. I couldn't have put it better myself. That first short hill was steep enough to test the legs. But there was something else about the climb. Time and again, there were false crests, ones which, when reached, turn out to be at the bottom of further rises. Alps on Alps arise.

From the final crest we were to swoop (again) down the other side and assemble at a turn. It must be time for an overshoot. And it was. The others waited whilst the pair were recovered. Assembled, and away. Along the way, there were evacuating animals to avoid, there was the careful passing of two land-rovers on a road which was suited to just one. And the sun continued to shine.

To Frant, to the familiar back-roads towards Tunbridge Wells, the outskirts, and, eventually, the - swoop down the road past the tennis club to the town. A choice of three cafés, each with chairs on the pavement. Late breakfasts, teas, coffees, for some a glance at a Sunday paper whilst watching the people pass in the sun. The Forest Row Bike club at rest.

And prepared for the easy, relaxed ride home. Jam tarts along the way helped. The familiar Forest Way, the busy Way on, remember, that sunny day. Easy riding. Hartfield, the half-way mark. The concluding ride back to Forest Row, to coffee, to Waitrose, to all else. Fourteen out, thirteen back, but we know about the other one. What a good day.

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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