Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Wadhurst - 2nd April 2017

This morning dawned a lovely, spring day, and it was almost, but not quite warm enough for shorts, unless they were underneath longs. I decided it was the day to take out my very bestest bike, and after a little argument with myself, my alter ego told me to put it in the car and drive to FR. I duly complied.

As I was getting myself ready in the car park, I noticed Graham going by towards the bike shop, and thought that a) he was going rather fast, b) he was 10 minutes early, and c) why? Those who know Graham, and we all do of course, will not be surprised to learn that after his normal circuit, he was cycling towards our meeting point when he was passed by a group of other riders who were going rather rapidly. Red rags and bulls? So he was still going at a rate of knots as he passed my car.

He was still alone as I arrived at the shop, and just a couple of minutes later, Gordon, Christine, and John and Joanne arrived too, and we all said our surprised hallos and had a couple of welcome squeezes. (The only reason I come out). As is often the case, questions went round about who was coming or not. Eventually it was gathered that Martha and Sienna were going to be absent, we’d probably meet Steve en route, and maybe Ros would be here, or maybe not. She did appear a few seconds later, and during all of our chatter to each other, so did Trex, exactly, I just happened to notice, 4 minutes late. He actually whimpered that it didn’t matter when I pointed it out, not at all smugly. Let it lie.

Sadly I do not recall where our other group was bound today, but we all wished them a pleasant ride as we departed towards Hartfield. I guessed almost straight away how the day was going to go, as I noticed that my legs were not doing what I wanted them to do. Or at least not without complaining. We veered round the bend approaching Coleman’s Hatch, and suddenly Graham let out a whooping noise and sped off, just before I noticed that the authorities had erected a fresh, new sign, replacing the old one which has been missing for some months. If anyone knows of a more obvious example of cheating, please let me know.

Then guess what? We turned left into Parrock Lane, something we haven’t done for ages, even when it had been on the designated route. And it was Graham who designated it! This time I had decided to amend the route that I downloaded onto my Garmin to bypass that lane, so now it told me that I was off course. (If you don’t understand the terms ‘Garmin’, or ‘download’, I patronisingly point out that it matters not at all. Nor do I.) Parrock Lane is quite up and down, and I noted the fact that the ride to Wadhurst is known to be quite a lot up and down too, so I was fairly happy to realise that by taking this lane, at least we would avoid climbing Shepherd’s Hill.

Gamely we all pedalled towards Hartfield, when someone called out that Steve was approaching. My specs obviously failed me, as I enquired if the certain approaching cyclist was Steve. As said cyclist drew closer, I realised that she was more attractive than Steve had hitherto seemed to me, or was ever likely to. I also noted to myself that I need to arrange an appointment to visit my optician sooner rather than later. But not far behind, there he was, and off we all went, having chortled at my myopic error.

Trying to stop the laughter, I initiated a downhill rolling race to Hartfield, which I was compelled to disqualify Trex from, as he shamelessly pedalled to the finish line. The cad. A short time after that, Graham felt a burst of energy and left us all in his wake as he arrived at Withyham first. After which Ladies Mile was reached, and is rather flat if you remember. Very pleasant. The last time we had travelled along here, the wind had made it quite difficult, so this time we took full advantage.

Not so at Mott’s Mill. Do you remember that vicious, though short hill just after it? It is a bit tough for ordinary cyclists. Not myself of course. But Steve had a discussion with the gears on his new bike, just long enough for him to come to a halt. I guessed this when I heard a shout of alarm from behind me. Steve, however, gamely tried again, and reached the top a short time later.

I have lived so long that I didn’t think anything else could surprise me. Two things did. Just round a bend there were three lovely horses which I didn’t fancy one bit, accompanied by three lovely young ladies. Say no more. The second thing is that the conversation turned to a Bentley which was parked outside a house next to Eridge Station. I was informed that it has been there for absolutely ages. It certainly looked like it when we arrived, and with almost flat tyres to prove it. I must have cycled past there a million and one times. Either I’ve never noticed it or I can’t remember that I’ve noticed it. Spooky. Immediately after that, we passed through that lay-by which leads to the A26, and we all noticed the remains of a large pile of wood shavings. The last time we passed that way, we met a young man shovelling bag loads of it into his car. He looked like a robber caught in the act, but visibly relaxed as we urged him to take the lot. He obviously hadn’t been able to fit it all in.

I can’t remember much about the rest of our journey to Wadhurst except the ups, of which there were many, and the downs, of which there weren’t any. But eventually we were there, and we entered our destination pub. The bar lady pleasantly explained that we could leave as soon as possible, as they were fully booked, so Trex marched off in a huff. He returned in a trice, looking like a successful hunter. “Onward”, he indicated, “to the Mark Cross Inn”. Until then it had never crossed my mind to obey Trex about anything, but in future I will consider it. The pub was, apart from being expensive, wonderful in every way. The staff were friendly and welcoming, the food was delicious and sufficient, (except Trex’s), and the sun in the garden was of just the right temperature. Trex felt the compulsion to niggle at the bill, which I would happily have paid all of, but didn’t tell him, and we were once again on our way.

As we had deviated from our intended route, our return journey consisted mainly of the reverse of what we had already done. This suited me, and no-one else complained either. Except when we arrived at the foot of that hill in Corseley Road which goes up to Groombridge, two things happened. Firstly, Graham had a repeat of a persistent puncture. A persistent puncture is almost the most annoying of the species. It means that no matter how many times you inspect your wheels, tyres and inner tubes, it keeps happening. Fortunately it was sunny, and whilst we all waited for Graham to endure his troubles, Steve was able to point out to me not only an orange-tipped butterfly, but a beautiful yellow Brimstone too. Secondly, Trex resumed his whining, and said that as far as he was concerned, we could all do what we liked, but he was going to limp home along the Forest Way. I’m not sure if any of us took any notice before he was gone. That’s not fair, sorry Trex, we did all notice. We showed it with a loud guffaw. But I’m sure we’ll all be back soon to do it all over again.


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