Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Tonbridge not Kippings Cross - 26th February 2012

I got in late from work yesterday evening, and although I'd told Stuart that I'd definitely be coming, I found it too difficult to get out of my bed in time. I've done this before, and I know from experience that I can drag myself to the kitchen and make some strong coffee, take my time over coming alive, and still intercept the ride somewhere or another depending on which direction they are headed in.

As you probably know, the intention was to go to Kipping's Cross, east of Tunbridge Wells. I phoned Stuart from my home, on the dot of 0930. He said I sounded hoarse, and thought that I was going to say that I couldn't make it, but seemed happy that I was going to come, eventually. He must be a very good actor. At the time, there were just him and Martha there.

In due course I headed off from Lingfield to intercept their route along that lovely lane which passes Furnace Lake, at the end of which you turn left towards Cowden. The weather was like a Spring day, with no suspicion of rain, so I had my super best carbon fibre bike out, and, although far from being fit, rode along fairly well.

I'd transposed the intended route from the club website onto my OS map, and followed it exactly, intending to catch them up if I could, or meet them at the lunch stop if I couldn't.

As I rode along past the lake, loads of other cyclists were coming towards me in small groups of 3, 4, or up to 7 or 8. Each had a number on the front of their bike, and I would have liked to know what the event was, but it's not practical to shout out a question to riders going the other way. I had to be careful, because I know that riders who are trying hard take less notice of oncoming traffic on country lanes, especially if it is not making a noise. I had to avoid more than one cyclist on the wrong side of the road.

I went up through Cowden and across the B2026, towards the station, but took the right fork before that, down a long drop, over the railway bridge, and down further, eventually passing an idyllic farm, where I could hear kids laughing. Craning my neck up to look over a hedge, I could see Dad sitting in a deck chair, reading, while the kids played innocently on the grass, with a duck pond nearby and some sheep in the adjacent field. No doubt Mum was somewhere near, cooking the Sunday lunch possibly. I'm sure they all knew how lucky they were. The kids will when they grow up, anyway.

Immediately after there, there is a shortish, steep slope, a short respite, then another bit of incline with accompanying heavy breathing, and I found myself at a junction called White Post. I know this junction well, because it is on a circuit which I ride from my home sometimes. I always turn left there, but today's route indicated right, so I obeyed.

Following my directions, it dawned on me that I was now on the path that I had followed a few weeks before, doing exactly what I was now doing, ie. catching up the club, having laid in. And that time, I had taken a wrong turn, so this time I was feeling rather smug, because I had got it right, and cut a few miles off.

There is quite a steady climb into Fordcombe, which I expected, and some way up it, I received a mobile phone call from Stuart. He was with Martha and Steve, who had arrived at Forest Row just after 0930. "Where are you?", etc. "The Tunbridge Wells half-marathon is on today, and the road is closed, so we've detoured to White Cross. We'll find our way to Penshurst and go on from there". "OK", I said, "I'll find my way to White Cross, and if you're not there, I'll phone you".

At Fordcombe, I did indeed come across the half-marathon, and the road was in fact closed, but the route I wanted to take was immediately opposite, and the kind marshal said that as soon as a gap occurred, I could cross the road. A gap occurred, and I was on my way.

Having assumed that the others had done the same thing, I continued my route, expecting to encounter them soon enough. However, it was not long before I received another phone call. I couldn't understand exactly what had happened, but they were still near to where they had said was White Cross, which was, in fact, White Post, the junction I had been at ages before. After a short discussion, they decided that they would head, after all, to our normal café at Tonbridge. So, having located my new route on my map, and having endowed them with a name which they hadn't been expecting, off I went, and so did they.

As it turned out, my route to the new venue was shorter than their's, and so it was that I sat on the bench outside the café, in the sunshine, watching the world go by for a quarter of an hour before the three of them arrived.

A few insults and a hearty breakfast ensued, before we all ventured out towards Leigh for the return journey. The weather was still fairly Spring-like as we passed Chiddingstone Causeway and Chiddingstone, back to Cowden and re-traced our steps past Furnace Lake.

At the end of the lane, I said my goodbyes, as Martha, Steve and Stuart turned left towards Shovelstrode Lane and Forest Row, and I turned right towards Dormansland and Lingfield.

As I finish writing this, I can smell my supper roasting in the oven, and I'm about to open a bottle of red to go with it. I can't drink it all, 'cos I have to be at work in Horsham at 5am. tomorrow.

But it's been worth it!!

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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