The Next Ride: Sunday 4 September 2016 – Sunday 4 September 2016: Return to St Leonard’s Forest

24 August 2016

Three Bridges – Furnace Green – Pease Pottage – Colgate – Slaugham – Staplefield – Balcombe

St Leonard’s Forest featured in the first ride I ever led for the Clarion, back in 2006. I have wanted to repeat it ever since, but was worried about the long and complicated train journey (it was a Horsham-Balcombe ride). So I have re-jigged it to start at Three Bridges.

We start out along Haslett Avenue, which has a plaque we may want to look at. Dame Caroline Haslett (1895-57) was an electrical engineer, and the first secretary of the Women’s Engineering Society; she saw electricity as heralding an age “when women are liberated from soul-destroying drudgery”. Her father Robert Haslett was a railway signal fitter and activist for the co-operative movement. I don’t know which one the plaque commemorates, but its location – adjacent to the grid feeder station for the entire London-Brighton line – would be fitting for either, or both.

There are actually 2½ forests on this ride; the first is Tilgate Forest, which we pass through on a fairly new section of NCN20 which isn’t even shown on my 2006 OS map. In fact, they haven’t quite finished putting the signposts up yet! Never mind, I have ridden it and we won’t get lost.

Then into Parish Lane (recall my Balcombe circular in 2010) and so to Pease Pottage and Colgate, where, as before, we will have lunch at the Dragon at about 12.30. It’s gone upmarket a bit in the ensuing 10 years, but the food is certainly good and prices aren’t excessive.

We then enter the forest where we left it last time, at the White House; so we traverse it in the opposite direction, which turns out to be the correct one, as it’s all downhill this way. Hopefully we will have time to stop and absorb the quiet and tranquillity of the place, and also maybe learn about the medieval iron and rabbit (!) industries. The rabbits are still here, but we should also spot other lifeforms: on the recce I saw deer, a buzzard, a huge dragonfly and a great crested grebe.

Then through the pleasant Sussex villages of Slaugham and Staplefield, and past a second White House to access the bridleway to Rowhill Lane via Spicer’s Farm. Unfortunately the foliage obscures the fine view of the Ouse Valley Viaduct which can be seen from here at other times of year. A big whizz downhill (check brakes!) through the third forest, or rather half a forest, since it’s only a wood – Pilstye Wood – and so to Balcombe.

Alert readers will recall that Balcombe station is in that fascinating category of “semi-step-free” stations, and unfortunately for those of us wanting to get back to Brighton, it is step-free in the London direction. However we have to go down the steps, not up, so it should not be too hard. We can then admire one of the finest station gardens outside London Road Brighton. If there is a long wait for the train, the tea rooms may be open.

Practicalities

Length: 18 miles.

Duration: about 5 hours including lunch.

Terrain: About 6 miles of the ride is off-road, mainly hard, stony surfaces which will stand up to wet weather but may bump you around a bit. The rest is on quiet lanes. Some ups and downs.

Start at: Three Bridges Station (bike rack area) at 11.15.

Getting there: There are 4 trains per hour from Brighton. The last train that gets you there in time is the 10:44 (a Bedford train, should not be affected by Southern problems). There are no trains from Hove today so Hovians will have to cycle to Brighton.

Getting back: There is one train per hour, at 17 minutes past, and it’s a Southern train … still, the gardens are nice. If all goes according to plan we are due to get to Balcombe at 16:00.

Remember: this is a linear ride! Drivers may prefer to park at Balcombe and get the train to Three Bridges.

Jim.


The Last Ride: Sunday 21 August 2016 – Pevensey Levels To Herstmonceux

24 August 2016

Julian, Angela and Sean took the train from Brighton with Sue and Chris boarding in Lewes. Chris (from Patcham) met us in Polegate and we waited for Mick and Ann who had driven to our lunch stop and then cycled to the start of the ride.

Julian led us onto the Cuckoo Trail for a few yards, turning right to cycle along a tree-lined path and over the bridge spanning the by-pass.

The weather was overcast but warm and pleasant. The West wind hit us sideways as we crossed the Pevensey Levels but did not deter our progress. In the afternoon the sun came out, and the wind veered to South-West, becoming strong enough to render our decision to return via the sheltered Cuckoo Trail a wise one.

A back-stop was appointed but unfortunately was not familiar with the route and we were half-way across our reed-lined route when we discovered three of our number were missing. Mick cycled back to search for them. They had missed a turning off the road to Hankham but fortunately realised their mistake and retraced their steps and were soon reunited with the help of Mick’s guidance.

We reached the nursery at Lyme Cross in good time for lunch which was homemade and delicious. The service was friendly and helpful but as we had a long wait for food to arrive a long conversation ensued. One table of 6 people covered the topics of ‘fathers for justice’, Charles Manson, The Archers, the KGB and mind-control techniques, abusive relationships generally, cannibalism, Neo-Liberalism vs Anarchy, books on economics were recommended e.g. Ha-Joon Chang’s book 20 Things They Didn’t Tell you About Capitalism. And both tables spoke of Brexit!

Pevensey Levels to Herstmonceux

The Manageress came over and offered us free drinks for having the long wait for food, and we didn’t have to wait quite so long for these to arrive! We decided that this was a Cycle-Friendly eatery and would like to send them one of the Clarion stickers informing visitors of that fact. Anyone got a spare sticker?

Big Chris

Oh, and on the way, Big Chris, who had arrived on his retro 1980 Dawes Galaxy wearing a 1970s? outfit complete with flat cap and knitted tank top, shared his experience of informing the authorities (county council officials) about footpaths and bridleways that needed attention e.g. signs missing, inappropriately diverted by local inhabitants, impassable etc. We can all contribute to improving the situation in this way.

Pevensey Levels to Herstmonceux

After lunch Mick and Ann drove off and we had an uneventful ride down the Cuckoo Trail to tea at the Loom Mill café. Some discussion of trying out the Cuckoo’s Nest café further on but we left that for another occasion.

Pevensey Levels to Herstmonceux

Patcham Chris left us at Polegate to drive back and the rest of us boarded a crowded train to return home happy and tired after a lovely day out.

Thank you Julian.

Sikka


News

24 August 2016

Dear All

If I hadn’t started forgetting to do things long, long ago I would be thinking it must be old age taking its toll. It’s happening so much that I’m looking for a reliable tailor who can fix me up with a sackcloth suit and I am in the market for a regular supply of ashes.

What’s brought this contrition on, this time, is me forgetting to include Jim’s report on the visit of the London Clarion at the end of last month in the previous edition of this newsletter. Well, better late than never. I’ll stop this wittering and hand over to Jim. Hope everyone appreciated his excellent report on our recent doings in Boots and Spurs, by the way. Thanks to David and Sean we are now fixed up for rides till mid-October. Don’t let that stop you for volunteering for ones after that!

Ian

The Londoners arrive

30 July 2016: London Clarionettes come to Brighton

Jenny and I met at the cafe formerly known as the Velo at the Level at 2.30pm. No other Brightonians materialised; there had been heavy showers, which might have put people off. We set off along the Lewes Road and reached Ditchling Beacon, via Stanmer, after an hour. The rain did not return, and we both welcomed the presence of the ice cream van.

Alex of London Clarion had predicted a 4pm arrival, and sure enough, with immaculate timing, at 16:02 a flurry of red-and-white-checked riders appeared on the approach to the Beacon. But the lead rider was differently dressed – he was not sporting the familiar London Clarion kit, but instead, the national Clarion colours; in fact it was our own Bob Harber! So Jenny and I were not the only Brightonians present. Bob was followed by 9 Londoners, all of whom had ridden from London, setting off at 8.15 – for some, their longest ride yet. After a decent interval for the consumption of ice creams and the relaxing of tired muscles, the whole group rolled off into town.

London Clarion meet at the Signalman

After a lovely whizz down Ditchling Road, we ended up near the Palace Pier. Two Londoners left for home at this point; of the remaining group, when the question “beach or pub” was put, a majority cried “Pub!” so we retraced our steps to the Signalman in Ditchling Rise. Later, Ian, Nick and Fred arrived to augment the Brighton & Hove contingent.

There was discussion of many things, including the Londoners’ bid for the Easter Meet in 2018, and other possible outings, one of which, intriguingly, involves the Broomway, the mysterious path that leads out to sea from the Essex coast, en route to Foulness Island, at low tide.

Jim


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and Cycling in the 1890s

24 August 2016

Now there’s an idea we hadn’t thought of – but might try – those of us not too short of breath, that is. Anyone know any suitable part-songs or glees? Answers not on a postcard but an email will be fine!

It’s from ‘Cycle Trifle’ in one of the last Clarions of 1899 – the edition of 23 December, when Christmas festivities were getting into swing

The Keighley C V U was of course the Clarion Vocal Union. Their presence reminds us that the Cycling Club – huge as it already was as we saw last time – was only one of the social initiatives pioneered by the paper. There is much – very welcome – talk at the moment about the desirability of ‘social movements.’ Perhaps we can learn something?

bradford


The Next Ride: Sunday 21 August 2016 – Polegate circular via Herstmonceux

10 August 2016

Route: 

Morning:  The ride starts at 11 am just north of Polegate station by the public lavatories.  We cross over the B2247 onto the start of the Cuckoo Trail and soon turn right to ride through a narrow wood for nearly half a mile, until we turn left into Shepham Lane which goes up to cross the B2104 and soon a turn right into Glynleigh Road.  After a left turn the road goes over a small river and we pass Rickney Farm to go north over the Pevensey Levels, via New Bridge and on up to the Magham/Pevensey T junction.  Here we turn right going along Lower Road until a sharp left into Church Road that takes us through Flowers Green and Chapel Row to the Lime Cross Nursery on the other side of the A271 for lunch in the café.

Afternoon:  After lunch we go west for half a mile along the A271 into Herstmonceux and right onto the minor road uphill through Stunts Green to the Cowbeech Hill junction.  Then we go left and south-east down a long minor road and turn right (by the A271) onto New Road going west, which is soon disused and gated off, but can be cycled along, until we cross over a busy road and come into Station Road and turn left onto the Cuckoo Trail just before Hellingly.  Once on the Cuckoo Trail, apart for some time on the level through Hailsham, it is gently downhill all the way back to Polegate.

Terrain:  The section between Herstmonceux and Cowbeech Hill is all uphill.

If cycled in reverse, the three uphill sections are from where we turn off the Cuckoo Trail and go up to Cowbeech Hill.

Note:  as the Cuckoo Trail is mainly between hedges, a vote could be taken after lunch on whether to return across the Pevensey Levels (ie doing the morning ride in reverse) instead of going down the Cuckoo Trail.

However, if the wind is significant from the north this ride would be cycled in reverse, as the Pevensey Levels are very open, whereas the Cuckoo Trail is mainly sheltered.

It is about 9 miles both before and after lunch at Lime Cross, whichever route we take first.

(O/S Map 123 1:25,000)

Take the train from Brighton leaving at 10.12 and arriving Polegate at 10.40.  Return trains from Polegate to Brighton are hourly at 34 minutes past the hour, taking 31 minutes, or with a change at Lewes, hourly at 6 minutes past the hour, taking 32 minutes.

Julian and Tessa


The Last Ride: Sunday 7 August 2016 – Hassocks Circular Ride – 20 miles approx.

10 August 2016

Nine cyclists left Hassocks Station at 10.40: Henry, Chris, Angela, Helen, Julian, Sikka, David and Prudence, together with a new potential member: Angela.

The weather was rather miserable when we started, and there had been warnings of rain, but the sun made intermittent appearances and the weather turned out fine.

We stopped at Streat Place to gawp at the pile rumoured to have been a venue for Charles and Camilla’s trysts.  No one invited us in, so we repaired to the Plough Inn, Plumpton Green, for a coffee.

It was a pleasant ride except for swarms of lycra-clad men who whistled past us at the speed of light as we pedalled sedately at about a quarter of their speed.

We stopped at the Cock Inn, Wivelsfield Green, where we all enjoyed a very delicious meal in glorious sunshine.  We were met there by Leon and Joyce.

After lunch we returned down Hundred Acre Lane to Ditchling, then up a short ride to Oldland Mill, where we had tea and learnt about milling, as well as enjoying the lovely view.  We could see Jill on the skyline doing her rounds.

We took the train back from Hasssocks to Brighton at about 4.40.

A good time was had by all.

Many thanks to Helen, our leader today.

Prudence

30 July 2016:
London Clarionettes Come to Brighton

Jenny and I met at the cafe formerly known as the Velo at the Level at 2.30pm. No other Brightonians materialised; there had been heavy showers, which might have put people off. We set off along the Lewes Road and reached Ditchling Beacon, via Stanmer, after an hour. The rain did not return, and we both welcomed the presence of the ice cream van. 

Alex of London Clarion had predicted a 4pm arrival, and sure enough, with immaculate timing, at 16:02 a flurry of red-and-white-checked riders appeared on the approach to the Beacon. But the lead rider was differently dressed – he was not sporting the familiar London Clarion kit, but instead, the national Clarion colours; in fact it was our own Bob Harber! So Jenny and I were not the only Brightonians present. Bob was followed by 9 Londoners, all of whom had ridden from London, setting off at 8.15 – for some, their longest ride yet.

The Londoners arrive

After a decent interval for the consumption of ice creams and the relaxing of tired muscles, the whole group rolled off into town.

After the ascent (1)

After a lovely whizz down Ditchling Road, we ended up near the Palace Pier. Two Londoners left for home at this point; of the remaining group, when the question “beach or pub” was put, a majority cried “Pub!” so we retraced our steps to the Signalman in Ditchling Rise. Later, Ian, Nick and Fred arrived to augment the Brighton & Hove contingent.

There was discussion of many things, including the Londoners’ bid for the Easter Meet in 2018, and other possible outings, one of which, intriguingly, involves the Broomway, the mysterious path that leads out to sea from the Essex coast, en route to Foulness Island, at low tide.

Jim.

 


News

10 August 2016

Dear All

Last time I began the newsletter with a mention of the Observer article about the relationship of Adam Yates, who did so brilliantly in the Tour de France last month, with Bury Clarion.  I quoted our old friend Peter Roscoe, the ‘club oracle.’

Peter is on our mailing list and I soon received an email from him  saying ‘Pleased you picked this up –  I take you saw Ian and Monty in the picture.’   I hadn’t.  So I had another look at the paper on-line and there, sure enough (how did I miss it?) was, cheering Adam on at the side of the road, our national secretary. Ian Clarke with his son Monty perched on his shoulders.

So, I emailed Ian, asking

  • Where was the photo taken?
  • Was it a news photo or one yours?
  • What does it say on the placard – not the right word – Monty is holding?
  • How did the the paper get onto this?  Peter?

And here’s his reply:

The photo was taken by one of the Tour’s professional photographers, it was pure coincidence that the article about Adam and the Bury Clarion, had us in the background.

It was taken on the Sallanches to Megeve TT stage and we were on the Cote de Domancy, in the shadow of Mont Blanc. Unfortunately, Peter Dejong the photographer owns the photo, but I have managed to get a high resolution copy for my own personal use.

And Monty’s card says ‘go Yates go’… it’s almost as if we planned the photo, but honest, all we did was stand in the best place we could find.

The photo has been in the Telegraph, The Times. the Observer and the San Francisco Chronicle

Well, what an amazing coincidence – and what good publicity for the Clarion CC – at least in the Observer.

You will see below that I have now completed our ride dates till the end of the year.  I’ve put a * by 30 October because this is when BST ends.  I usually try to avoid the beginning and end of BST because of the danger of people forgetting until it’s too late. We could of course skip this one, but it’s less of a problem when the clocks go back because if anyone forgets it just means they turn up an hour early and have a wait – a whole lot better than at the other end of summer time when you would find the ride had left an hour before!  Anyway, let me know what you think.

It is in any case a bit academic at the moment since we are still short of any offers for September.  Anyone for 4 September?  As usual I will let you know as soon as I get a volunteer.

Boots!

Ian


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