Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Tonbridge 24th February, 2008. - A ride in the park

Assembly, badinage, a general movement to the familiar pathway along which the steam trains used to run. Nowadays, the people walk, the horse-riders ride, and the bikers, including the young ones, cycle. There's space for all along that egalitarian trail.

Beyond Hartfield, the route is straight. Long ago, the engine-drivers opened their throttles. Earlier today, we too increased our speed and experienced something like the sensation of speed when the old leather strap was lowered, the window dropped, and the head was pushed out of the window. On a train, on a bike - what a pleasure it was to feel the air rush by as we cycled, in company, along that straight stretch. The Forest Row Bike Club was on its way to Tonbridge.

We left the track, we turned left, we climbed the first hill. We rolled down the hill, and we rolled down the following steeper one. We climbed. We were not far from the main road, but we were far, far from it. Life on the narrow, country roads is different. We cycle peaceably. We chat. We change positions, now chatting to one and then to another. We are somewhere in deepest Kent. There's no urgency. All we have to do is to enjoy the ride.

Or, for some, indeed for many, to enjoy the run. We were climbing the latest hill, they were running down. Hundreds of them, men and women, each numbered. Cyclists on one side of the road, runners on the other, in between, of course, were the car-drivers, making their careful ways. Normally, each would have expected to have swept along the road. Now they were contained. The runners and the cyclists had taken over the road.

We passed the last runner, just running, as we passed into Penshurst park. We exchanged roadway for parkland. In turn, parkland became waterpark. A waterway, the lakes, the rugby pitches, and the painted and polished railway wagon, the home of the Tonbridge Model Engineering Club. A fine advertisement for engineers. A café which was an equally fine advertisement for the migrants who had launched it.

6 Parkland and waterway were low-lying; Southborough ridge is not. We climbed. The road eased. We climbed, and we climbed again. Low gears, calm heads. First, climb the hill, (and only then think about climbing quicker). Another hill. And yet another one, though this one is down. We swept down to the familiar route from Tunbridge Wells. Easy cycling. Even easier when we were back on the familiar track. We followed it, cycling steadily, to Forest Row, and to tea. Up the track to East Grinstead for some. A good day's cycling for all. Of course, the cycling itself is good. What makes it better is the company. Forty-five miles of companionable cycling.

Don.


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