Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Warlingham - 21st May 2017

I awoke to a vision of loveliness. Hmmm, I must move that mirror from the side of my bed. The sun was out, and the temperature was at a level only dreamed about whilst we were in the depths of winter. Now, the only decision was whether to put on arm warmers or not. Not was the answer.

A good omen was the call of a cuckoo as I left my front door. A less good one was coming across a dead tawny owl whilst climbing Sandhawes Hill on the way to the shop. It had lost an argument with a passing car, by the look of it. In the absence of Trex, I respectfully moved it beneath a bush, and continued to FR. Shortly afterwards I heard a ping from my back pocket, and probably broke the law by investigating my phone. It could probably have been my braces giving way, but it was, in fact, a message from Trex to inform me that he was unable to come out to play today. Things can’t get much better, I thought, and continued on my even merrier way to meet the others.

Graham was there, waiting alone, and shortly after I arrived, so did Martha, but with the remains of a horrible cough. She said she’d probably only be able to manage some of the way with us. No-one had heard from Steve, and having had no reply from his phone, we set off. At the top of Shovelstrode Lane though, hey presto, there he was, and we all got over the absence of Trex. We meandered along Smithers Lane, past the pond, and Graham demonstrated how it is possible to remain juvenile at an advanced age, when he claimed the Cowden sign whilst I wasn’t even trying. We turned left in the village to the sound of the church bells, and made our way up and down via Hever to Edenbridge, just after which I claimed the Little Browns Lane sign, to prove to Graham who is really the boss. He swore he hadn’t known of the sign’s existence, of course, further proof of his immaturity. We crossed two railway lines and into a nice lane which very quickly deteriorated into a concrete surface, and then dirt and finally mud, to Martha’s dislike. She disliked things even more when soon enough we had to tackle a fairly difficult climb up to Limpsfield Chart, but she managed, and still didn’t show any signs of turning back.

A short distance further saw us crossing the A25 and entering Clacket Lane. You will know that this crosses the M25, where one can often view the traffic stationary in both directions. Today however, all seemed well, but further along the lane, we encountered a bottleneck of cars trying to pass each other in the narrow road. Glad to be on our bikes, we wiggled through, and pressed on. Yet another hill appeared, and soon we were on top of the South Downs ridge, and treated to a view across the south of England.

Turning into Beddlestead Lane, we met a large group of cyclists from the Beckenham CC. A swift wave, and we began our long drop into the valley. Descending at speed, I noticed a yellow and white coloured stone which I’d not seen before adjacent to the road, and braked hard to look at it. It was a memorial stone to one Paul Skelly, and as I photographed it, another couple of cyclists from the Beckenham stopped beside me. We chatted about the stone, and one of the guys explained that today was the first anniversary of Paul’s death. He was a much loved member of the Beckenham, and this road was one of his favourite climbs. I’m so glad I stopped. I phoned Graham to tell him to go on to the cafe with the others and I’d catch them up. Having been warned not to be too long as the cafe closed promptly, I made my way to Warlingham, where I arrived just as Graham was about to lock the bikes up. Good timing.

On entering the cafe, it was a lovely surprise to see Kate sitting there. She had driven out to meet us all for lunch, and the others listened whilst I spoke at her for the whole hour. Steve and I chose an omelette and salad each, which was first class, and Graham won the eating-for-England competition with a humungous breakfast. I was so engrossed that I can’t remember what the ladies had. One thing I do remember is the sight of a dog laying on the path outside the cafe in a most lascivious position, if that is possible for a dog. Those who were there will testify. I will try to have a photo posted on the web site if you are interested to see what I mean.

Time to go, and whilst Graham unlocked the bikes, I noted that the war memorial on the green at Warlingham was thought to be facing the wrong way by some locals, of whom I was one some years ago. The Tommy with his rifle faces North, although the invasion would surely have come from the South. Having lived just round the corner, I pointed out to those who were interested, the bungalow where I used to live, and then we began out descent down Bug Hill, where a fair amount of braking is required. Having stopped for a swift call of nature, I found myself twice interrupted by drivers selfishly arriving at just the wrong time. It’s not easy to stop in full flow.

The ride up through the valley towards Woldingham School was lovely in the warm afternoon sunshine, and typical of a green and pleasant England. We pondered on the privileged kids who went to that school, and hoped that they would one day appreciate it, and I envisaged the parents who were invited on a couple of posters to participate in the forthcoming school rounders match. I hope it went well for them.

A swift descent through the village of Church Town brought us out on the Godstone road, where the advertised route continued up the steep-ish Enterdent Lane to the top of Tilburstow Hill. Fortified by the others’ refusal to go that way, and the fact that it wasn’t far to my present abode, I decided to go that way if the other wimps agreed to wait for me at the start of Miles Lane, just after the cissies’ way.

So having met up again, and succeeding, I think, in not looking too smug, we continued past Christa’s Corner, where once the lovely lady had gracefully fallen off her bike. All that remained was a leisurely bimble through Crowhurst, a sneaky whizz across the Edenbridge Road, claiming the Lingfield sign from a disgruntled Graham, and then I was home. I had been boasting about the acre of ground which I had single-handedly been restoring to a spectacular flower garden where I live, and was encouraged to invite the riders in for admiration. In we cycled, and apart from the derision I received on sight of the weed-ridden postage stamp of ground, at least they met a couple of my neighbours, and had a brief chat before they departed for home. I, of course, was home already, and comforted myself with a soothing beverage as I sat in the sunshine, trying not to feel too pleased with myself as the others climbed up through Dormansland on their way home.

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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