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Forest Row Bike Club



Ride Report


Hill Climb (or was it?): 3 December

Uuugggh! I opened my eyes and stared into the mirror. Not a wise decision. Green suede teeth and tongue to match. And neck ache too. I wiped the condensation from the inside of the windscreen and peered out of the car. What a party that was!, and the rain has stopped too. Good. Just enough time to drive back into the country and to the bike shop.

Rain was once again bouncing off the pavement as I pulled into a space. No-one there, so I’ve got just enough time to drive down to the WC in the car park. Ron rings at the most awkward times. I pulled my mobile from my pocket with my free hand. “Why aren’t you at the shop?” he demanded, having just turned up. “I’ll be with you in two shakes,” I replied, and I literally was. Ron had phoned round all the other likely candidates, and had decided that the Java and Jazz coffee shop would be the venue at 10 0’clock, and then walked his dog Katie out in the rain to tell any stragglers, ie. me. He then very kindly invited me back to his house for coffee while we waited for better weather. I accepted at once, and drove past him with my wipers going full speed as he trudged home with his collar pulled up and dragging his hapless hound. Val was there, and was polite enough not to offer to lend me a toothbrush.

Some time later the sky began to clear and the rain stopped. Time to ride down to the shop at the newly appointed time. But we had only just arrived when the heavens opened once again so inside the café more coffee was taken, along with the other arrivals, Martha and Tony, the first of whom insisted on giving me a great big hug. I wasn’t to realise until later how ominous this was.

After half an hour our chatting was interrupted when three sodden mountain bikers came in and sat in pools of water at the next table. Ron gave them a grilling, and it turned out that they would like to join the FRBC as a mountain bike section. That would be a result, as we may be needing new members soon, as I will explain later.

Eventually, as the café floor became wetter, the sky became brighter, and it was time to stir from our chairs and venture outside. The rain may have stopped, but there was so much on the roads that as we started uphill towards the Ashdown, small rivers were gushing down the gutters, to such an extent that it was a bit like white water rafting, except that it wasn’t white, and we weren’t in rafts. It wasn’t too long before it began to dawn on me that we were getting nearer and nearer Kidds Hill, and, yes, soon enough it was looming in front of us, with even bigger rivers running even faster down the road towards us. As I began to strain upwards, I felt like a salmon trying to return to its spawning grounds.

I emerged at the summit, or very near it, ahead of the others, and after waiting so long that I got bored, decided to descend a little bit to see them struggling upwards. It was fun watching them all wheezing past me, and after I’d turned round and gently followed them to the crossroads right at the top, any gloating that I may have felt like doing was instantly wiped out when Ron announced with an even bigger gloat, that that had been The Hill Climb 2006, and that I had come last. The man is a  bounder.

As we made our way onwards towards our destination in Crowborough, the rain re-commenced, and we stopped so Martha could don an unusual item of clothing. I don’t know what it’s called, but she says its to protect her from the rain. It’s fairly small, and covers the nethers like a masonic apron, except it is equipped with alluring black straps which seem to wind round every which way. It appears to be highly efficient at collecting the water and channelling it off the end directly into the shoes, without having to run all the way down the legs first. Fashion item it isn’t. Still, she’s happy.

Once into Crowborough, I nipped the few yards ahead to see if the Sherlock Holmes Café was open. Negative. I turned back to see Martha walking along the pavement pushing her bike. At first I thought she was giving a fashion parade to the locals, but no. She had felt something weird wrong with her bike. On inspection, a quick release lever had come undone, and she had been riding along for who knows how long with her back wheel waggling around and ready to jump out of the frame. Lucky escape!

Waitrose is just around the corner, and has a very acceptable café. At the till, I let the other three know that as today was my birthday, I insisted on paying the bill. They congratulated me heartily as they turned back and loaded their trays with bacon rolls and cream cakes, and some more to take away for later. Friends! As we left, I nipped off to find the loo, and walked the full length of the huge store before asking someone. Of course it was right back where I had started from, and so I had another view of whole place from the other direction. On coming out again, I was disorientated, and walked the whole length of the place looking for the exit, whereupon I asked someone else. I was directed to an exit back at the far end, and wearily began my trek towards it again. I began to attract funny looks from people as I continued to clip about in my cleated shoes and Max Wall tights as if I was a care in the community case. Now what? I don’t remember coming down any stairs when I came in, so how come I was climbing three flights of them now? I emerged in the car park at the back of the place, which I took a walking (or rather, mincing) tour of before finding my way out of it, to finally appear at the bicycles where Ron had waited so long he was jumping up and down and flapping his arms to warm up.

Tony had by then unlocked his massively long padlock from all our bikes, and was itching to get a move on, as he had a party to go to that afternoon all the way over in Richmond. So off we went.

On the way home, it emerged that Martha had just recently been at work, aboard the very plane that had become contaminated by the unfortunate Russian spy who was poisoned by radioactive Polonium 210. We displayed our sympathy by rapidly putting some distance between us and her. We couldn’t resist mentioning that she seemed to have developed an odd green glow to her face. Being the kindly soul she is, when it turned out that all the men had forgotten to bring their drinking bottles, she offered us all a swig from hers. Ron accepted swiftly, and nearly choked as he realised he was probably now taking his own internal X-ray. He reminded me that I’d accepted a huge hug from Martha earlier on, so that just left Tony uncontaminated, but he was too tired by now to get away from us. We will now have to begin carrying warning bells and wearing signs round our necks saying ‘Unclean’.That is why it is so fortunate that Ron had shown the foresight to recruit those potential new members earlier.

And with that, we whizzed down the final hill to Forest Row, where Tony split off to his party, Martha probably went off to the isolation ward, and Ron and I went to Java and Jazz to sit in the corner away from everyone with a final cup of tea and commiserated with each other.




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