Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

The Shorter Ride Cycle Ride - TunBridge Wells 9th March 2014

Basically the ride was a great success, enjoyed I believe by all.

When I arrived at the new bike shop in Forest Row ready to lead my planned "short ride", I was overwhelmed by the number of cyclists already there, and still they kept arriving. When Graham arrived a few minutes later to lead the "long ride", I could see his look of surprise at the numbers.

We were 14 altogether, including a couple of non-members. Jane had persuaded her friend Alison to join us and there was Amanda who rode with the club a few years ago. And I was still expecting Ros to join us later at Tunbridge Wells.

Yes, it was a beautiful day for cycling. The first really nice day since day since well before Christmas, and it brought out a goodly number. The forecast was for sun all day, temperatures about 15°, albeit with a strong SSW wind. This wouldn't be a problem with our basically east-west ride both on the outward and return leg. As it turned out, the strong wind didn't rally materialise.

We were to ride with the "long riders" as far as Eridge station, before breaking away and making our own way to Tunbridge Wells. And so we were off. I was in front leading a long train of cyclists along the main road through Forest Row at a steady pace, until we reached the first of the main hills up to Coleman's Hatch. That slowed me up, together with a few others. Assembling at the bus stop beyond the church, I did my first headcount. Should have done that earlier. This was to be the first of quite a few headcounts as we spread out along the undulating road towards Groombridge. Another big climb just pass Withyham, stopping at the crossing with Forest Way for another headcount. Now a more gentle climb to the back lane into Groombridge. Finally off the fairly busy main road.

Using the now almost traffic free Corsley Road down to the water works before the steady climb up to the junction at the top, where we assembled all the riders before the steep left turn and down the very steep hill towards Eridge station. A lovely easy going quiet lane. A gathering at the station, where it was time to decide who was going onto Heathfield on the long ride, and those coming with me to Tunbridge Well.

Three going on the long ride, Steve turning back on his own, and nine with me. And so we left the station, round the corner to yet another killer of a hill. Probably the steepest so far. Everyone managed to cycle up the hill, but I have to admit it almost flawed me.

A rest bite now as we free wheeled down through Eridge and then up the junction to make a right towards Tunbridge Wells. From here the road is undulating, past de-forested fields, through wooded areas, past High Rocks, and alongside the restored railway, before the final climb up to the footpath which runs gently down through park land to the roundabout to join the very busy A26 main road.

Just before the final climb we were joined by Ros, who having had to leave home late, had arrived in Forest Row at about 10am, and cycled the direct route to Tunbridge Wells, using the Forest Way..

Now on the very busy A26. a hundred yards, a sharp right and into the back streets of TW. Half a mile on and we were outside the railway station, with a choice of cafes. Each to their own, with three cycling back to the Pentiles. Peter off doing some bookshop trading and then looking for some sort of bed. It would probably have been better if we had all stayed and eaten together.

It was after the café stop that things got a bit messy. Gathering everyone together took a while, but we finally assembled at the top of the footpath ready for the long decent towards the restored railway track. I suggested that we have one of our "downhill races". Not done one of these for many a year. And so, being put on one's honour not to pedal, the winner was the one that went the furthest before finally stopping. I don't know how many took it seriously, but I did and was out distanced by John Hazeldean, by about a metre. I know a good few passed me "pedalling", I guess they had either not bothered, or had failed to reach John.

And so the return was underway. Passing now familiar surroundings we headed towards Groombridge. I accused Alison and Amanda of getting up the hills on "talk power. On reaching the outskirts of Groombridge, we made our way down the bridal way and over the railway bridge, a sharp left turn, another hill, a right hand bend and join the Florence Lane, the unmade road we had used a few hours earlier on our outward journey. Picking our way around the multi potholed lane, we got back to the main road again, ready for the long decent to the crossing of the Forest Way. Waiting for all to gather before starting along Forest Way, I was now aware that Christa was missing. Ron turned back to check what was amiss, and returned a few minutes later with three forgotten soles. Peter pointed out that I had been was going too fast and consequently had lost some. It must have been the sunshine, I don't usually have stragglers. Apologies all round.

My planned route was to use Forest Way as far as Hartfield, and then the road to Forest Row. Some discussion by a few who were considering cycling all the way to Forest Row along the road, but finally agreed to keep with the pack From here to Balls Green was quite pleasant on the "softish" path surface, but got rather bumpy after that. At Hartfield, Christa and Don chose to carry on along Forest Way to Forest Row and follow Zoë who had gone on already.

So now down to Joanna, Alison, Amanda, Jane, Ros, John, Peter and myself, we set off on the main road, along the steady climb to Coleman's Hatch, where Jane left us for her really long climb to Wych Cross, and we made our rapid decent before cycling back into Forest Row. Here we said our good-byes, having enjoyed a really nice days cycling.

Gordon.


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