News

16 November 2022

Panorama debate
The BBC Panorama film – Road Rage: Cars v Bikes – initiated a lively discussion on our Clarion WhatsApp group recently. I thought cycling Panorama journo Richard Bilton did a good job in highlighting the dangers faced by cyclists who share the road with motorists during the 30-minute film.

Some who watched Panorama’s road rage film thought the cycling safety issue was sensationalised by including the views of anti-cycling propagandist Rod Liddle. I felt it was useful to cover the anti-cycling bigotry, which has been adopted by a significant minority of motorists, to show how a hostile and dangerous environment has been created for many cyclists on the road.

The Panorama documentary remains available to view on the iPlayer, if you want to make up your own mind.

Walter Crane’s radical calendar
With 2023 approaching, it was good to receive Radical Tea Towel’s calendar for the new year in the post this week. I was particularly delighted that their entire calendar for 2023 is devoted to the work of socialist artist Walter Crane. It was Crane who designed the striking ‘Fellowship is Life’, ‘Lack of Fellowship is Death’ & ‘Socialism the Hope of the World’ logo for the Clarion Cycling Club in 1912.

Although Crane’s Clarion artwork from 1912 isn’t included in Radical Tea Towel’s 2023 calendar, there are twelve images of radicalism and optimism which resonate in these troubled times. We could certainly do with more of Crane’s utopian vision of a socialist society today.

Nick


Ride reports

13 November 2022

Angmering to … err … Worthing? 13th November 2022

Apologies for Absence: Some Clarionettes will go to great lengths to avoid a ride. Front runner at the start was Angela D with her claim to be at the top of the i360 (where, as far as I know, she languishes yet) but she was pipped at the post by Dave’s account of his recent altercation with a False Black Widow spider. As for Nick, well, he had gone for the mysterious touch, and announced that he just wasn’t going to be there – something that Nick is well-practised at (see previous ride reports).

Cast in order of appearance: Doris, Wendy and I fought back football fans at Brighton station to board the Portsmouth train, and arrived at Angmering station about 50 minutes later. BR excuse of the day was that there was a slow train ahead of ours, but if there was, goodness knows where it had come from! We met Steve at the station and sped off southwards.

No Entry: The people of East Preston practised an extreme form of Brexit, whereby they left, not just the EU, but the UK as well; they closed off their roads with gates, and put up increasingly threatening signs to keep out intruders. I fully expected to see a machine gun post around every corner. Luckily, we emerged unscathed; perhaps the guards were on their tea break. And I dread to think how the England Coastal Path project is going to cope with Ferring.

Kites: People who are very old, like me, may remember the song “Kites” by Simon Dupree and the Big Sound, which apparently reached No. 8 in the charts in 1967, and included a spoken interlude in Mandarin. Well, the kite flyers of Ferring were out in force on the seafront – a pretty sight if you like that sort of thing, but unfortunately the popularity of the festival meant the café here was a non-starter for us, and we pressed on (if you pardon the pun).

The Breaking of the Fellowship: Sadly, our trendsetting electric-biking leaders decided to follow the trend already set by Nick, Dave and Angela and were suddenly Not There either. This was on the approach to Worthing. Steve and I cycled back and forth along the seafront looking for them but they were nowhere to be seen, so we sat on a bench and ate our snacks, then Steve returned to Angmering and I caught the train home.

Thanks to Wendy for suggesting the ride. Sorry we got split up!

Jim.


This sign on Preston Road got me thinking … something wasn’t right? But I guess they are doing their best …

And two reports from our roving reporter, Nick:

Halloween with London Clarion
London Clarion organised a suitably spooky Halloween ride around London on Sunday October 30th. We split up into groups of five or six to navigate the 20-mile route, while answering quiz questions at landmarks along the way. There were some impressive Halloween costumes on display, which made me think I should make more of an effort with face paint and masks next time. The hugely enjoyable route can be found on this Strava link.

Lewes Bonfire with Bike Train
Bike Train’s ride from Brighton to the Lewes Bonfire on 5th November is always one of my cycling highlights of the year. We had some assistance from the police when occupying one of the lanes on the A27 as we approached Lewes. There’s a terrific sense of empowerment when you ride together as a large group and are given priority over motorists. This year’s rainy weather reduced the number of cyclists, but there must have been about 100 participants. There were plenty of fireworks and Liz Truss effigies to keep us entertained when we arrived in Lewes. Strava link here.


Next Ride: Sunday 13th November: Angmering to Worthing/Shoreham/Brighton

27 October 2022

Starting from Angmering Station at 12:15 pm.
Catch the 11:30 Portsmouth train from Brighton (11:34 from Hove).
More details to be added when known!


Ride Reports

27 October 2022

London Clarion’s London to Brighton ride

It was good to meet up with a few from London Clarion at the Wildflour Cafe in Poynings on Saturday 22nd. They had set an impressive pace in their journey from Bermondsey To Brighton and arrived at the cafe shortly after 4pm. We went via Devil’s Dyke before descending into Brighton and had a few drinks outside the Prince Albert pub. I was encouraged to take part in the 2023 overnight Dunwich Dynamo cycling event, which seemed like a good idea after a couple of pints of Aspall cider.

Here’s the Strava link to the short route I took to meet up with London Clarion.

Brighton to Seaford (October 16, 2022)

October 16, 2022: Clarion cycle ride from Brighton to Seaford

After a late summer lull, it was good to be back on the Brighton Clarion cycling trail. It was Sean’s idea to follow the coastal path from Brighton to Seaford. It was a pity Covid symptoms prevented Sean’s attendance, but I think we were all grateful for his seaside route suggestion.

Jim, Tessa, Doris, Sikka, Angela D, Jim, Dave and Nick were the cyclists who gathered at Brighton Pier for a ride which was largely improvised on the day (Angela C joined us later in the ride at Saltdean). Our route can be viewed on this Strava link.

I delayed the start of the ride a little when attempting to photograph our Clarion group with blurred passing cyclists in the foreground. A few examples from this photo shoot can be seen on the Flickr link below. To be honest, I’m not sure the concept really works. A slower shutter speed and better camera (rather than phone) might have improved the concept.

October 16, 2022: Clarion cycle ride from Brighton to Seaford

Our ride along the coast coincided with the annual RISE 8k undercliff run for women. There were only a few runners heading for the finish line by the time we started cycling along the undercliff. The RISE run is quite a big annual event, which must have started considerably earlier than our 10.30 cycling departure time.

Our first stop was the White Cliff cafe in Saltdean. I was quite surprised to find Saltdean’s public toilet with the impressive mural on the walls was closed. The White Cliff cafe had also closed their inside toilets for the day, which left one less than fragrant portaloo positioned outside near the cafe’s tables and chairs.

When we weren’t discussing the state of the toilets, we found time to talk about the shelf life of lettuces and the disastrous tenure of the then Tory PM, Liz Truss. Angela D spent the entire break with her hand in a metal bowl of ice, following an incident with a scalding cup of coffee. The cafe’s vegan cheese & tomato straws deserve special praise, but our close proximity to the rather pungent outside loo meant it wasn’t too long before we headed back to our locked bikes and resumed the coastal route to Seaford.

October 16, 2022: Clarion cycle ride from Brighton to Seaford

After stopping for a brief look at Newhaven’s two cormorant sculptures, we headed to The Galley Cafe, which is part of Seaford Sailing Club. It was then a short cycle ride to Seaford Station and our train back to Brighton.

I’m not sure if our Sunday coastal excursion was taking place in early autumn or late summer, but it was certainly a good day out for a cycle ride.

October 16, 2022: Clarion cycle ride from Brighton to Seaford

More photos on Flickr

Nick


News

27 October 2022

Many thanks to Bob Harber, who sent me a copy of the October 6th eco-friendly edition of Cycling Weekly. I think I might scan their ten tips on how to be a greener cyclist and put them on our WhatsApp group (click here to access).

Shell’s toxic deal with British Cycling

I mentioned in the last newsletter that I would consider buying Cycling Weekly again if they started covering issues other than how to ride very fast on expensive bikes. It was good to see their correspondent Adam Beckett cover the recent controversial Shell sponsorship deal with British Cycling. It’s hard to disagree with the following excellent point about the oil polluter’s greenwashing arrangement with British Cycling.

Shell UK are part of the Shell group, which has been found to be the seventh most-polluting company in the world, and there is no escaping the fact that it produces millions of barrels of oil a week. If cycling was serious about its role in the environmental crisis, this kind of partnership would not be happening.

I like the way Adam also has a sideswipe at the terrible record of HSBC, British Cycling’s former sponsor. It’s a real eye opener to witness British Cycling’s enthusiasm to be associated with various nefarious corporate concerns. These strange alliances make more sense when you find out that the current chair of British Cycling is the former head of global investment at HSBC.

Donnachadh McCarthy, The Independent’s climate columnist, is well worth following on Twitter if this subject interests you further. As mentioned in the previous newsletter, I think we should submit a motion condemning British Cycling’s actions at the 2023 National Clarion conference. The full article by Adam Beckett appears on this link.

By the way, Bad Advertising’s petition is well worth signing if you haven’t done so already.

That’s probably enough Cycling Weekly, British Cycling and Shell references for this newsletter. We may well return to greenwashing and hypocrisy in cycling next time though.

Nick.


Next ride: Sunday October 16th

11 October 2022

Palace Pier to Seaford via Peacehaven

Departing from the Pier at 10:30 am.
Possible coffee stop on the undercliff; lunch in Newhaven or Seaford (venue to be chosen on the day).

From Brighton to Seaford is about 15 miles. Trains to Brighton leave Seaford at 29 and 59 minutes past each hour.


News

11 October 2022

Cycling during Covid, Brexit & the cost of living crisis

Instead of obsessing about riding very fast on expensive bikes, Cycling Weekly really should publish more features like the one from 22nd September, which looked at the current cost of cycling crisis.The article by Adam Beckett includes a good update of some of the issues which concerned us during the Covid pandemic.

Beckett’s piece explains that the huge demand for cycling experienced during the height of the pandemic in 2020 has returned to pre-pandemic levels (see DfT stats). It’s understandable why many people took up cycling for leisure and work travel during lockdown, when the risk of Covid infection was high. It’s probably not surprising to see demand for cycling decline when Covid infections in the population went down. Let’s hope the gains in cycling safety made during the pandemic aren’t lost forever, though. The decision taken by a number of councils (including Brighton, sadly) to remove many Covid cycle lanes is surely a retrograde move, which makes cyclists less safe on the road. 

The Cycling Weekly article explains that bike supply was unable to keep up with demand during furlough and lockdown. Since the threat from Covid lessened in 2021, it’s Brexit and the current cost of living crisis which have combined to create more uncertainty for bike retailers in the UK. If Cycling Weekly are able to return to some of the issues raised in the article, I might start buying the magazine again.

British Cycling hypocrisy 

Following on from their crass advice not to cycle on the day of the Queen’s funeral, news reaches us today that British Cycling have announced an eight-year sponsorship deal with international polluter Shell. I’ve never forgiven Shell for their complicity in the state executions of several Ogoni activists, including Ken Saro-Wiwa, when Shell was exploiting oil fields in the Niger Delta a few years ago. If there are any protests planned against British Cycling’s unacceptable behaviour with this tainted sponsorship deal, count me in!

Message from Julian

Ian has been in touch with Julian via email. He says he’s fine with the following message being included in this newsletter. Our recent Chichester circular ride was one of Julian’s favourite Clarion routes, of course. 

Julian writes: Being housebound I have so far not been since lockdowns able to get treatment from clinics for my basic problems.  My expert physio is slowly getting me back to basic ‘walking’ tho due to my lack of balance she has to hold closely onto my paralysed left side.  Others aren’t qualified to get me out of the flat, but soon could push me strapped into my pushchair to manage getting to see the Hove shoreline.

That’s about it for now. Hopefully see some of you on a cycle ride soon.

Boots!

Nick


News

12 August 2022

I don’t know for sure, but I think last Sunday might have been the first time we have attempted a Clarion ride during the annual Brighton Pride weekend.

Saturday’s Pride parade along London Road, the first since the pandemic, was really wonderful to watch. I had forgotten how many people the Brighton Pride event attracted and how impressive the parade could be .

Among the many parade participants, there were excellent contributions from Amnesty International, the anti-fascist English Disco Lovers and a particularly subversive Earth First banner (‘No Pride In a Police State’). Labour, Greens & Lib Dems were all there, but the Tories were absent. As Fred pointed out on the Clarion WhatsApp discussion forum. cyclists were also absent from the parade. Perhaps Brighton Clarion should have a presence on next year’s Pride parade?

As 300,000 were expected to travel to Brighton for the Pride weekend, some of us were a little concerned that train travel on the Sunday morning might be problematic. I was passing through Brighton station just after midnight on Saturday and was amazed to see the station concourse packed with hundreds of Christina Aguilera fans, who surely had missed their last trains home.

The hundreds of Pride revellers had managed to sort out their travel arrangements by the time the Clarion riders arrived at Brighton station for Sunday’s 10.30am train to Chichester. What a glorious ride it was too. I particularly liked the Chichester Canal route at the end, which led us back to Chichester station. Thanks to Sikka for pointing out the canal wildlife. The youthful coots and cormorants were particularly impressive.

Nick

Jim adds: We also discussed the need for someone to volunteer to “flag up” any future problematic dates when there are local events (such as Pride) that might need to be avoided. Readers may find this hard to believe, but I was unaware of the approaching Pride festival until about a week before, when it was too late to change the ride. Any volunteers for that?


Clarion Ride Report: Chichester Circular 7/8/22

11 August 2022

A cancelled Littlehampton train and a delay due to ‘animals on the track’ between Brighton and Hove meant a very crowded journey to Chichester.

We only all met up disembarking onto the platform.
Jim, our leader, Sally, Sikka, Nick, Marilyn, Doris, Angela and Tessa.

August 7, 2022: Chichester circular

We headed off on the SCCR through the grounds of Chichester College onto Centurion Way, a delightful tree-lined path in dappled sunlight with glimpses of yellow fields beyond.

Throughout the ride I was struck by the colour contrasts – green trees and a scorched landscape. We stopped at the Centurions to analyse their makeup. Were they metal floats? Bomb casings? Missiles? Jim pointed out bits of railway track that formed their faces. Some ears were missing. Souvenirs?

August 7, 2022: Chichester circular

A short stretch of busy road took us to the West Stoke turnoff and shortly to our lunch stop Wellies Tea Rooms. We sat outside on two tables in a converted farmyard framed by an elegant Georgian farmhouse and glass-fronted stables, now housing small businesses.

Delicious food and animated conversation at our table ranging from our least favourite food experiences to what to watch next on Netflix. Nick took close-up photos of the bubbles rising in his lime and soda. I suggested a video. Apparently slow videos have their own Youtube channel?

August 7, 2022: Chichester circular

Continuing towards West Stoke, we stopped to admire llamas, turned left onto Lye lane, one of the beautiful leafy quiet roads on this ride, then crossed onto Mouthey Lane which was of course photographed and pondered over as to who might have inspired it?

We continued through Fishbourne, over then under the A27 and then onto Apuldram Lane, passing a large field used as an aerodrome during the war to attack the Germans in Northern France.

We turned onto Salterns Way, a small off-road track running alongside golden fields. Crops had been gathered and straw was in bales, or waiting to be baled.

August 7, 2022: Chichester circular

Our tea stop was Chichester Marina where we divided into tea drinkers in the shade of an umbrella and ice cream eaters in the sun.

Nick and Sikka left us to catch an earlier train and the remaining 6 tackled the bumpy first half of the canal footpath where there were several bramble scratches sustained. The footpath became a shared path with an even surface as we neared Chichester.

August 7, 2022: Chichester circular

Another cancelled train meant a long wait at Chichester Station but at least it wasn’t crowded for our return.

This was Julian’s ride from a few years ago, so thank you to him for planning it and to Jim for leading it on this perfect summer’s day.

Tessa

Jim adds:It was good to also see Terry, who was drivng home but met us at Wellies for lunch and intrigued us with tales of his bamboo bike.

August 7, 2022: Chichester circular

Strava link
Flickr link


Next ride: Julian’s Chichester circular: Sunday August 7th

3 August 2022

Chichester – Centurion Way – West Stoke – Fishbourne – Salterns Marina – Chichester
17 miles

Julian recently recalled a Chichester circular ride that he had led on several occasions and remembered fondly. His description of the ride allowed me to find my way around the route, even though I have no memory of actually participating in the ride. It is certainly a ride that should be repeated at intervals. It is pretty flat, and much of it is off-road, on good surfaces; the signage on the Salterns Way I would describe as “challenging” … but I think we will be able to get round all right.

The only change I am making is to the lunch venue. As Julian said in his original ride description, the Crown and Anchor at Dell Quay – where we have lunched on many occasions – was already “expensive” even at that time (2015) and is now pretty well out of reach for most of us. I am instead proposing lunch at Wellies Tea Rooms, which we have visited before, and where I had a lovely salad on the recce ride. This will be an early lunch at around 12:30 – so no morning coffee stop – but a tea stop is possible at the marina café.

The path alongside the canal may also be a bit “challenging” and is a footpath, which means we must give way to other users and/or walk. A road route is possible for hydrophobes. It widens out eventually and becomes a shared-use path. The famous view of the cathedral from Poyntz Bridge has been augmented by a print of Turner’s painting of it – something that was new to me.

Start at Chichester station, 11:30.

Getting there by rail: catch the 10:30 Portsmouth Harbour train from Brighton. (Get straight on the train – don’t wait on the concourse).

Please let me know if you plan to come.

Jim.