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Part 2

Although I was too late for lunch, I was in time for dessert. FixedWheelNut and Charlotte are seen here tucking into theirs.

Then, after lunch but before I put my camera away it was time to grab the only outdoor photo of the ride.

Then I put the camera away and got on the bike. As not everybody was ready I just rode in circles, but then somebody called me “Mr Freerider”. Now that sort of riding I’ve never thought I could do, and I certainly hope that as soon as the photos are developed it is proved that I’m not any good at this! But it did appear to entertain for a few minutes.

A short ride later and we were back to that earlier crossroads and I could see some were turning right and some were going straight on. I knew that we had to turn right, so wondered whether to chase down the group. As I was at the back (by some way) and also on the Brompton I didn’t relish this, so just followed the main crowd.

Soon we were in Hartfield (home to Winnie the Pooh) where we had two decisions to make. Firstly, which pub to patronise, then secondly, how to track down the missing riders. The second issue was easily remedied thanks to the wonders of the modern mobile telephonic communication era. Then down to the first issue. “Pub” “This one?” “Yup”. So in we went.

From here, our route took us to Forest Row. I was able to get a coffee here after a huge delay caused by our large horde and only one person behind the bar who had to keep popping off to the hotel reception to check guests in. Tim broke his Tandem at this point, fortunately outside a bike shop, so I was left to guard two pints of beer while repairs were undertaken.

Unfortunately Tim returned from the bike shop with recumbent brochures, resulting in drool from me and a migration of some cyclists from the pub to the shop. Some were out of the door whilst still struggling into their coats!

The journey away from Forest Row, once we’d finally got all our cyclists back, was rather unpleasant for me. When I made the Brompton roadworthy in the morning I had failed to fix the intermittent fault with the front light (I think I have a loose wire). Therefore I was riding with a very poor, but legal, front light. As we went up the hill at a considerable pace the group started leaving me. It got dark and I couldn’t see where to go. Charlotte kindly offered to ride ahead of me, but then unkindly didn’t slow. I gritted my teeth and pedalled fast. Legs whirling in a blur, lungs burning, we got to the top of the hill and waited for the stragglers.

Once we’d gathered everybody we headed on. The pack turned left into a dark road, so I stopped to make sure nobody missed the turn. This was a mistake. As I dropped behind the last rider I realised it was Tim and Kathy on the tandem. We swooped downhill, Tim’s dynohub lighting his path and the speed increasing. On my little wheels, and with my poorer lighting I couldn’t maintain that pace; I was scared of sliding or missing a bend. Then I was alone. In the dark.

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