The Last Ride – Suzanne’s Report

Balcombe to East Grinstead, via Turners Hill – 23 March 2014

March 23, 2014: Balcombe to East Grinstead via Turners Hill

The 10.05 London bound train deposited Jim (ride leader), Sue/Sikka, Tessa, Nick, Suzanne and Roger at Balcombe. David arrived car-borne. Joyce and Leon very wisely (as will become apparent) chose to continue to Three Bridges and alight there.

A taste of what was to come appeared within the first 200 yards, in the form of a steep incline. The area from Balcombe to East Grinstead forms part of an area known as the High Weald, with the emphasis on “high”. However, once we had conquered the rise up through Balcombe, we benefitted from the glorious run down to Balcombe Lake. Alas, what goes down must go up, and down … and up …… and down …… and up. However, Paddockhurst Lane gave us tantalising distant glimpses of Worth Abbey and Church, and after that Paddockhurst Road allowed us to see – far, far away – that white concrete conglommeration that is Gatwick Airport with the North Downs rising boldly behind it. Turners Hill, we discovered, is on a hill. We stopped on the handkerchief sized village green and had time to admire the hard men (and possibly women – you can’t always see under those helmets) who had actually cycled up the north face of Turners Hill.

A blast from Jim’s whistle brought us to attention and we were off again, plunging down to Kingscote and beneath a beautiful eliptical brick railway bridge. Stopping to allow Jim to peer over the side of the road to see one (of the) source(s) of the River Medway

The Medway near Kingscote

– we heard a fearsome sound. No! Not fearsome. As we gazed up at the overhead bridge, a green steam engine puffed its way across, ready to pull into Station on the Bluebell Line. We all waved like demented yellow hobgobblins … and not a single wave did we get back from the passengers. Shame on them.

The author of this piece does not mind admitting that Turners Hill Road and Saints Hill Road were somewhat of a struggle. However, a brief rest at the main gate of the Scientologists (under the watchfull eye of their Security) bought welcome relief, but the West Hoathly Road did prove a bit of a challenge, being narrow and (at our stage of exhustion) virtually perpendicular, as imortalised by by fitter cyclists overtaking the Clarionettes at a rate of knots:

March 23, 2014: Balcombe to East Grinstead via Turners Hill

But it was a very beautiful part of the ride, made even more attractive by the knowledge that the Old Dunning’s Mill pub was only a km away. And what a good pub it was. Everyone was delighted to see that TJ, Joan and Nye (all of 10 months old now) were there to meet us, as were Leon and Joyce who had chosen the relative flat, if bumpy, Worth Way to get there. The pub made a crowd of 17½ people very welcome and the food was superb – indeed, desserts were ordered by some – no name, no pack drill, but you know who you are.

Nick had to leave as he had a date with the death throes of Borderline Records in Gardiner Street. In true Clarion style, he did photograph a number of the excellent lunches before he left.

The aim of the lunch stop was to meet up with a noble band from the London Clarion group who were riding from Waterloo. The rendez-vous had been fixed for 1.30, but a pub in Forest Row had lured the hardy band into dallying. Well, nearly all the hardy band. Andy had made it to East Grinsted courtesy of Southern Rail, Frank seemed to have been irretrievably lost somewhere between Waterloo and Edenbrdge, but Alan, Alex, Martin and George turned up just after 2pm, most of them spendidly attired thus:

Kit

Chat was had with the Londoners on various topics of common interest, but only too soon the Brighton and Hove brigade decided it was time to be brave and face the ride home. By common consent, the Worth Way was opted for. My! but East Grinstead is a hilly town. Finally we were all on the Worth Way – even David with his narrow tyres, which he had sensibly “down pressured” to 30psi –- and in no time at all we were back in sunny Three Bridges. A cup of tea and a twenty minute wait, a pleasant chat and then a vitrtually empty train to relax in all the way back to Brighton.

A fine day with far more sun than hail (they were only tiny stones, honest!), with more downs than ups (honest?) and more lovely countryside than you could shake a stick at. Everyone had their own fascinating memory or spotted a marvel. Nick could not resist celebrating the 210th anniversary of the writing of Wordsworth’ putting pen to paper with this magnificent floral portrait:

March 23, 2014: Balcombe to East Grinstead via Turners Hill

while alas, Jim and Suzanne could not resist nagging Nick once again about his nascent “derrière du constructeur”:

Derriere de Constructeur

There was the Red Kite whirrling above the lake or the magnificent ball of mistletow high in a tree above the Worth Way, some “two up, two down” bird accommodation

Bird House

the jolly Pig at Pound Hill:

Pig at Pound Hill

or the truly bonkers cycle lanes:

Interesting cycle lanes

Thanks Jim, exhausting, yes, but “real” cycling and a lovely route.

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