The Next Ride. Sunday 1 May 2011: Rye – Hastings

21 April 2011

Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us we each take part in rides at our own risk.

Sunday 1 May 2011
Rye – Winchelsea Beach – Pett Level – Fairlight – Hastings

In the first circular of 2011, Ian asked: “Can we think of something really appropriate for 1 May?” So I looked on the Internet and found the Jack-in-the-Green Festival at Hastings (www.hastingsjack.co.uk), and suggested we go there. However it did not quite fit the bill, because it turned out that (a) what Ian had in mind was the political, rather than the pagan, aspect of Mayday; and (b) there is not much going on on the Sunday of Jack-in-the-Green anyway. (Political activities tend to take place on the bank holiday of course, and so too does the main event of Jack-in-the-Green, because, as its website stresses, it is a modern re-invention of a traditional festival and certain concessions have been made to modern ways of doing things.)

Jenny suggested instead the Celtic Festival at Michelham Priory; but by now I had got the Hastings bit firmly between my teeth, having gazed longingly at all those contour-free areas on the OS map to the north-east of the town. (As distinct from the contour-rich areas, which include Hastings itself.)

Mere mention of Rye may, of course, strike terror in the hearts of some Clarionettes, but to them I would say, “Calm down! This isn’t July 2008, and anyway we are going the other way!” And mention of a climb from 0 to 160 metres above sea level may strike terror in other hearts, so I won’t mention it, other than to say that most of that is a short steep bit that we will walk up. In fact, as I implied earlier, we cling to the “0” contour for a whole 6 miles before setting our sights any higher, so there is a reasonable degree of flatness in this ride. And the climbing will be worth it when we get to the top!

It is only 11.5 miles from Rye to Hastings Old Town, so we will arrive in time to see some morris dancing and an exhibition about the festival. At 4 pm there is a concert by the Copper Family (£5) for anyone who wants to stay on, or, for those who prefer it, drumming in the streets (free). Later, Robb Johnson will be giving a concert at 8 pm (£8). The last train to Brighton leaves Hastings at 10.18 pm, so it will be possible to see at least some of this, and if you do it will tick Ian’s “political” box as well because Robb is one of our foremost socialist songwriters, and definitely worth seeing. Those of a more traditional bent may prefer Les Derniers Trouvères (£8).

Lunch will be at the Coastguard Tea Room (150m a.s.l.) before the descent into Hastings; I have booked a table, but need to know numbers, so please tell me if you are planning to come (j.r.grozier@btinternet.com). Oxygen cylinders will not be supplied.

Length: about 12.5 miles. (The last mile is from the Old Town to Hastings Station.)
Duration: about 3 hours (including lunch).
Terrain: Lanes and bridleways. (The bridleways are the grassy sort and unlikely to get muddy.)
Start time and place: Front of Rye Station, 11.50 am. (If you don’t want to have to carry your bike over the footbridge, leave the platform at the Ashford end and go along the path, over the level crossing, then take the second right and go through the car park to the front of the station.)

We will have to be careful about trains, not only because of the barrier line jobsworths, but because the Rye trains are only 2 cars. The 10.20 from Brighton will arrive in time, but I will be on the one before it (the 9.20) and will have a coffee or two at the “Fat Controller” café while I wait. Londoners can travel to Rye from the opposite direction, via Ashford, but will need to leave London Bridge at 9.16 and wait for nearly an hour at Ashford. The wait is shortened to 30 minutes if you can get the High-Speed from St Pancras International at 10.12. When you contact me to confirm attendance, tell me your preferred mode of travel and I will check that we are not squeezing too many onto one train.

Return trains to Brighton leave Hastings at 3 minutes past each hour; to London Bridge (via Tonbridge) at 13 minutes past; and to Clapham Junction and Victoria at 18 minutes past.

Jim. (Mobile 07742-963239)


The New Forest Weekend: Jenny’s Report

21 April 2011

[Many more photos on Flickr]

Friday 15 April
At Brighton station the first grouping comprised Fred, Jenny, Jim and Joyce. All safely boarded the Southampton train without hindrance from any railway rule-slaves, and Tessa joined us at Hove station. Conversation ranged over AV and what to say to LibDem canvassers on the doorstep, ha ha. Throughout the journey, status updates were received on a minute-by-minute basis from the London contingent on the other train (Amanda, Angelika and Nick) concerning the number of bike spaces likely to be available when we joined them. We received pictures too, showing a man apparently asleep in the bike bay. What would life be like without all this technology, some of us wondered – and not for the last time.

The start at Sway station

At Sway we posed for the obligatory group photo, then set off … for all of 150 yards before the first food-stop of the day – at Sway newsagent’s to buy supplies. Nick emerged with the soon-to-be-traditional packet of chilli-flavoured Monster Munch, which no sensible cyclist should travel without. Before long we left the lanes and headed cross-country … for all of 50 yards before we glimpsed our first pony and had to halt for photography and prolonged exclamations about cuteness: ‘Ooh look, there’s a spotty one!’ The New Forest’s fragrant piney woods and stands of silver birch soon gave way to miles of open heathland wildness, studded with gorse in full yellow flower and smelling unexpectedly of coconut. The weekend’s first undulations were walked up before we arrived at Burley Youth Hostel, having taken a leisurely hour and a half to cover just over seven miles.

April 16, 2011: Clarion New Forest ride

Dinner was at 7.30 at the Queen’s Head, Burley, where we were joined by Angela, Colin, and Helen. The food and the service were excellent, and the debate over AV began again and became a bit heated – fingers were wagged. Angela and Jenny were staying at the Burley Inn so only had to cross the road to their beds, whereas the hostel-dwellers had to walk a mile up a track in the dark, with only a mobile-phone flashlight app and a bicycle rear light between them. Technology to the rescue again.

P1000320

Saturday 16 April
A cool, dry morning – perfect cycling weather. We were joined by Annie and Terry, bringing our number to a baker’s dozen. After a slightly raucous photo session in the Queen’s Head car park we set off after our leader Jim, determined to keep out of the way of the hundreds of more serious cyclists who were taking part in a sportive and a mountain-bike challenge over much of the same route. Those we did come across greeted us with great friendliness and didn’t seem to mind sharing the road. After all of 5.5 miles we made our first food-stop of the day – at Crowe Farm Shop for tea and biscuits, and a rest in the sun from our brief exertions.

Crow Farm Shop stop

Onwards, and we found ourselves on the Castleman Trailway, a former railway line named after a railwayman called Mr Castleman, which is now a renovated off-road route that links Ringwood to Poole*. It runs alongside the river Avon upon which were swimming a very great number of appallingly cute ducklings – long pause for photography and more exclamations about cuteness: ‘Ooh look, there’s a yellow one!’

April 16, 2011: Clarion New Forest ride

Our route soon drew us alongside the noisy and smelly A338, and we were glad to turn away from it towards the river and a ford that was marked on Jim’s map. However, we found only a wide, fast-flowing, reedy-banked stretch of water that none of us was brave enough to venture into, despite a passing local assuring us that he’d seen cyclists wade across in the past carrying their bicycles over their heads. We of course chose the cowardly but drier option, and retraced our steps – even though this meant climbing the long hill down which we had so optimistically hurtled only moments before. We paused at the entrance to a ski-slope (unlikely, I know, but ’tis true – we could see the winch for the ski-lift turning up above) before rejecting it as a lunch venue. The sudden appearance of a scarily low-flying aircraft overhead, coming in to land at Bournemouth International Airport, alerted us to the presence of a café at the Flying Club there, so we adjourned once more for food. To be charitable, the food was very good when it finally appeared. To be honest, none of us could remember ever having to wait so long for orders to arrive, or staff being quite so reluctant to admit there was a problem. Cyclists deprived of food for longer than necessary can become quite surly, as we all know.

Meet up with Dorset Clarion

After a further 2.5 miles our leader Jim shepherded us into the car park of the Avon Causeway Hotel. Surely not another food-stop … and so soon? But no, this was the pre-arranged rendezvous with the entire Clarion Dorset Section – all three of them (Ben, Bill and Sean), who were passing the time waiting for us by taking beer as is customary. We learned that the hotel was the old Ringwood, Christchurch and Bournemouth station at Hurn, which was closed in 1935 more’s the pity. Here Terry said goodbye and headed home, as he had a violin-making workshop to go to the following day – the finest excuse for leaving a ride early that any of us had ever come across.

P1000308

We soon set off again, but it became apparent that Colin was finding the going quite tough, being a relatively new and inexperienced cyclist. He was far behind us, and walking, so a plan was hatched to go back to Burley for Angela’s car and pick him and his bike up. Before this could be actioned he was spontaneously and kindly offered a lift by a passing motorist. We learned of this through the medium of the useful technology I mentioned earlier. Messages flew to and fro, some quite confused, and Angela and Ben sped off to find out where Colin had ended up. By the time the rest of us were nearing Burley, Angela had reappeared to say that, in an act of truly impressive fellowship and friendliness, Ben was gently encouraging and guiding Colin – a stranger until an hour or so before – over the last few miles. Ben, we salute you and thank you for your kindness. Nick almost broke out the chilli Monster Munch in celebration in the Queen’s Head that night.

April 17, 2011: Clarion New Forest bike ride

Sunday 17 April
Sunday began with transgressions and tellings-off. Joyce had agreed to lead the by-now traditional early-morning qi-gong session at the youth hostel. A carefully mown expanse of lawn nearby was chosen as a venue, which turned out to be part of the Burley Golf Club’s demesne. As the Clarionistas were gravely disporting themselves in an effort to get their qi moving, a woman strode over to remonstrate that people ‘paid good money’ to belong to the golf club and did not wish to be distracted by this kind of thing. The qi-gong session continued regardless – Clarion 1, golf club nil. Shortly after this, our second transgressor Helen was advised that ‘you can’t park there’ – but in a spirit of revolution Helen parked there anyway, and incurred no penalty. A clean sweep for the Clarion then.

Nick, Amanda and Joyce watch deer

The day’s ride was mostly on gravel tracks through woods and heaths, warmed in the sun. The first food-stop involved an ice-cream van at the deer conservation area, where we did see a few deer grazing in the distance. Fred’s humorous aside that, in this country, the deer all have fangs was overheard by a small child whose father laughed at first, then had lot of difficult explaining to do. We moved swiftly on to a pine plantation where we stopped in a woodland glade to eat sandwiches, accompanied by the rustling of countless huge wood-ants mooching around in the leaf-litter carrying small things to and fro.

Sunday picnic

Today’s was only a short ride, just the two food-stops, as most people were heading off home in the afternoon and needed to conserve their energy for the ride from Burley back to Sway station. As I remained in Burley for another night I cannot report on their journey, nor on the number of pauses therein for food and photography, nor even on whether the club’s bag of pulverised chilli Monster Munch was finally ritually shared on the train. As far as I know, all returned home safely after a truly wonderful Clarion weekend full of food, beer, hilarity and quite a bit of lovely cycling too. Thank you so much, Jim, for all your hard work in organising everything, and for your unrivalled cat-herding and whistle-blowing talents. Where would we be without you?

Jenny.

Postscript from Jim

Thanks for your kind words, Jenny. I can reveal that not a trace of the Monster Munch was seen on the way home; Nick kept it far too close to his chest, or possibly even closer to his stomach. But he made up for this lack of fellowship by alerting Tessa and me to the presence of a tea trolley in the rear half of the train, using that same technology to which reference has already been made. Our group of five had split up at Eastleigh, for reasons far too complicated to go into here but connected with the length of the platform at Clapham Junction, and Amanda (who was travelling in that half along with Angelika) had sent a message to him, five carriages ahead, enabling Tessa to get us some refreshments before the rush following the eventual on-train announcement. (One of the advantages of organising a ride, by the way, is that people keep buying you things – thanks Tessa!) Later we also received intelligence that Fred had got home safely thanks to a lift from Helen. And in case you were wondering, Angela and Colin also drove home, and Joyce got a lift with Annie after both their bikes were successfully installed in the back of Annie’s car in a triumph of precision engineering and collaborative effort.

At Clapham, Tessa and I took advantage of one of the brand-new lifts – thankfully the one taking us up onto the bridge – though the downward journey was made by the stairs as the platform 15 lift was still out of bounds. We then squeezed onto an incredibly overcrowded Brighton train, packed with spectators and tired participants from the London Marathon, and Gatwick Airport passengers with their huge suitcases. Heavy overcrowding like this often brings out the worst in people, and Tessa unfortunately witnessed an unpleasant (racist-motivated by the sound of it) incident in which a woman was forcibly ejected from the (stationary) train. This called to mind the explosion of unprovoked anger that we had seen on the golf course that morning. Not a nice note on which to end this report, so instead I’d like to thank all those who came, and indeed all those who come on any of our rides, for being such lovely people and making these rides so enjoyable for everybody.

[* Go to http://homepage.ntlworld.com/ron.strutt/rrcor2.html for a good description of
the old railway route and its history – Jim.]

See a report of the last time Clarion stayed in the New Forest.


News and ‘bike fixing’

21 April 2011

“Signing up” for Rides

It is becoming increasingly necessary to know how many people are planning to come on rides, partly because we often need to book for lunch, and partly because of the problems with getting on the train. For the next ride (1 May) both reasons apply. So please, if you are planning to come, let me know! (See “The Next Ride“.)

Jim

***

Bike fixing

A message from John Clinton:

“I am proposing to run an introductory lesson on how to maintain your bike. This will be a ‘hands-on’ experience where you get to understand how things work and to make adjustments. You will work on your own bike so that the knowledge gained is specific to you and your machine. We will tackle such things as, ‘are you sitting comfortably’, how to fix a puncture and adjusting brakes and gears. At the end I will suggest a set of tools to carry with you on your travels. The session will last about two and a half hours. Please bring with you tools and equipment you would normally carry so we can assess their suitability. A minimum requirement will be a puncture repair kit.”


The date for this session has not been finalised yet, so hopefully there will be further information in a future newsletter. Please contact John at johnjo.clinton@yahoo.co.uk if you are interested in attending.


John has also sent this message about the Capital to Coast charity ride in July. Check out the website for more info.

“We Need Your Help! www.capitaltocoast.org.uk

We are looking for people to help us with marshalling to encourage and support the riders along the Hove to Hove route and after it joins up with the main route, and were wondering if you know of anyone?”


Future rides until the end of 2011

21 April 2011

It’s not too early for (provisional) offers for rides from August onwards.

It is not possible to check train availability more than 12 weeks in advance so later rides will be provisional for this reason.

1 May Rye to Hastings(Jim)
15 May Gatwick to East Croydon (Jim)
29 May Shermanbury (Ian)
12 June Littlehampton circular via Arundel (Roger)
26 June Herstmonceux and Wartling (Tessa)
10 July Palace Pier to Berwick (Ann and Mick)
24 July* Plumpton circular (Jenny)
7 August
21 August
4 September*
18 September*
4 October*
16 October
6 November
20 November
4 December
18 December

*Ian definitely not available


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 82. More on “lady cyclists” and “rationals” (or the “bifurcated question”)

21 April 2011

From “Swiftsure’s” regular “Cycling Notes”, Clarion, 6 July 1895:

It is remarkable what a difference exists between the conduct of the public towards lady cyclists in different parts of the country. Any portion of Cheshire might be traversed by ladies without calling forth any remarks, but let ladies ride through any of our Lancashire towns, and it will create quite a sensation. The audible remarks which are passed, also, are neither flattering nor courteous.

As a rule, it is the female section of the public who have the most to say, and who appear to be most bitterly opposed to the pastime. How to account for this feeling I am at a loss to say; but that it is present in a marked degree was particularly evident last Sunday, when the Clarion C.C passed through Rochdale to meet Halifax and Bradford C.C.Cs at Littleborough.

There were only three ladies amongst us, and what would have happened had they been dressed in “rationals” I dread to think.

* * *

Mention of “rationals” reminds me that the lady whom I mentioned last week* has expressed her pleasure at my taking up the cudgels on behalf of rational dress, and she hopes that the lady members of the Clarion C.C will not be long before they all adopt “rationals”.

I need only say in further comment on this bifurcated question that it would indeed be astounding to read of the Clarion taking any other than the most enlightened view, and also that it only needs one to cycle with a lady who is dressed in the ordinary skirts to be quickly convinced of the cruelty and nonsense of skirted legs driving a bicycle.

*See Episode 80.

Next time – The 1895 General Election approaches


The next ride: Mayday – Rye to Hastings

5 April 2011

Sunday 1 May 2011
Rye – Winchelsea Beach – Pett Level – Fairlight – Hastings

In the first circular of 2011, Ian asked: “Can we think of something really appropriate for 1 May?” So I looked on the internet and found the Jack-in-the-Green Festival at Hastings (www.hastingsjack.co.uk), and suggested we go there. However it did not quite fit the bill, because it turned out that (a) what Ian had in mind was the political, rather than the pagan, aspect of Mayday; and (b) there is not much going on on the Sunday of Jack-in-the-Green anyway. (Political activities tend to take place on the bank holiday of course, and so too does the main event of Jack-in-the-Green, because, as its website stresses, it is a modern re-invention of a traditional festival and certain concessions have been made to modern ways of doing things.)

Jenny suggested instead the Celtic Festival at Michelham Priory; but I had by now firmly got the Hastings bit between my teeth, having gazed longingly at all those contour-free areas on the OS map to the north-east of the town. (As distinct from the contour-rich areas, which include Hastings itself).

Mere mention of Rye may, of course, strike terror in the hearts of some Clarionettes, but to them I would say “Calm down! This isn’t July 2008, and anyway we are going the other way!” And mention of a climb from 0 to 160 metres above sea level may strike terror in other hearts, so I won’t mention it, other than to say that most of that is a short steep bit that we will walk up. In fact, as I implied earlier, we cling to the “0” contour for a whole 6 miles before setting our sights any higher, so there is a reasonable degree of flatness in this ride. And the climbing will be worth it when we get to the top!

It is only 11.5 miles from Rye to Hastings Old Town, so we will arrive in time to see some morris dancing and an exhibition about the festival. At 4pm there is a concert by the Copper Family (£5) for anyone who wants to stay on, or, for those who prefer it, drumming in the streets (free). Later, Robb Johnson will be giving a concert at 8pm (£8). The last train to Brighton leaves Hastings at 10.18 pm, so it will be possible to see at least some of this, and if you do it will tick Ian’s “political” box as well, because Robb is one of our foremost socialist songwriters, and definitely worth seeing. Those of a more traditional bent may prefer Les Derniers Trouvères (£8).

Lunch will be at the Coastguard Tea Room (150 m. a.s.l.), before the descent into Hastings; I have booked a table, but need to know numbers, so please tell me if you are planning to come ( j.r.grozier@btinternet.com). Oxygen cylinders will not be supplied.

Length: about 12.5 miles. (The last mile is from the Old Town to Hastings Station)

Duration: about 3 hours (including lunch).

Terrain: Lanes and bridleways. (The bridleways are the grassy sort and unlikely to get muddy.)

Start time and place: Front of Rye Station, 11.50 am. (If you don’t want to have to carry your bike over the footbridge, leave the platform at the Ashford end and go along the path, over the level crossing, then take the second right and go through the car park to the front of the station).

We will have to be careful about trains, not only because of the barrier line jobsworths, but because the Rye trains are only 2 car. The 10.20 from Brighton will arrive in time, but I will be on the one before it (the 9.20) and will have a coffee or two at the “Fat Controller” café while I wait.  Londoners can travel to Rye from the opposite direction, via Ashford, but will need to leave London Bridge at 9.16 and wait for nearly an hour at Ashford. The wait is shortened to 30 minutes if you can get the High-Speed from St Pancras International at 10.12. When you contact me to confirm attendance, tell me your preferred mode of travel and I will check that we are not squeezing too many onto one train.

Return trains to Brighton leave Hastings at 3 minutes past each hour; to London Bridge (via Tonbridge) at 13 minutes past, and to Clapham Junction and Victoria at 18 minutes past.

Mobile (07742-963239)

Jim


The Last Ride: Sunday 3 April 2011 Berwick – Blackboys – Glynde

5 April 2011

[More photos on Flickr]

Twelve riders met at Berwick station: Angela, Anne, Jenny, Jim, Mark, Mick, Richard, Rob, Roger, Sue, Suzanne, and Tessa. Welcome to Rob on his first ride with the Clarion.

clarion;Berwickto Glynde 004

An early challenge was the Stonecross Lane BOAT (Byway Open to All Traffic), which has been resurfaced with chunky stone material, very unfriendly to cyclists. Many of us walked it, fearing punctures. From there we headed across the A22 to Chiddingly.

After passing the Six Bells in Chiddingly we all admired a beautiful Elizabethan mansion called Chapel Barn, which I later discovered (courtesy of the Internet) was an ancient house bought in 1496 by Sir John Jefferay and rebuilt in the shape of a letter E as a compliment to Queen Elizabeth I. We also rode through Muddles Green, which it seems was named after the man who owned the village smithy – Mr Muddles, a character straight out of Dickens by the sound of it.

Lunch was at the Blackboys Inn. We sat outside, trying to convince ourselves that it was warm and sunny when it wasn’t quite. The yellow-clad cyclists sat at a separate table from the less-professionally dressed majority (although no corduroys in evidence today as Fred wasn’t with us) and talked about gear ratios (I expect). The pub wasn’t as busy as we might have expected, given that it was Mother’s Day, and the food was very tasty, if a little on the pricey side.

Yellow-clad cyclists' ghetto

We crossed the A22 again after lunch and came upon familiar territory in Harvey’s Lane where we stopped yet again to admire the distant statue of a fox. According to a man who was passing by with his dogs and a pram, the land-owner Mr Askew is (was?) passionate about fox-hunting, so erected the statue in honour of his esteemed quarry. I make no comment. We passed swiftly on into Green Lane.

Mr Askew's fox

At the point where Green Lane morphs into Novington Lane there is a double grave by the roadside, allegedly of two soldiers killed in a duel in about 1880. At this point Jim threw down his bicycle and challenged Mick to a fight to the death by bicycle pump. Despite early damage to his trusty weapon, Mick defended the challenge bravely and luckily no deaths occurred.

The great Clarion bicycle pump duel

At Bishops Lane the ride broke into two factions, as Mark and I went off towards Barcombe – I was heading home and Mark was riding back to Brighton to get some training miles in. So what happened after that, someone else will have to report. Many thanks, Jim, for a lovely ride over new territory for many of us.

Jenny

Anne adds:
At Ringmer, Jenny and Mark peeled off to return home on varied routes. The remaining 10 enjoyed more lovely lanes and endured some ascents & headwinds, though none too severe. Jim called a halt halfway along one lane to point out the view towards Laughton Tower, which we had explored in March 2010 amid the raucous rooks. As we swept towards Glynde station I thought Mick said the train was at 3.10 and that sounded fairly imminent but when I saw, at the bottom of another hill with the ascent looming ahead, a field full of flocks of sheep & llamas, I really wanted to stop. There was a photographer there with his camera on a tripod, and gorgeous furry, cuddly beasts. I thought they were alpacas, but he said llamas, so assume latter. Daren’t stop to snap as there was a train to catch, so left an expert to capture the essential springiness & fluffiness of early April fields.

Anne, Rob and Roger

On top of yet another hill the fastest riders had reached the station & finally all bikes had been carried down to the right platforms, then we looked up the train times and found there was a wait of 45 minutes. Thus 7 of us locked our bikes (Angela was heading eastward to pick up her car at Berwick & Rob had stopped by the entrance to Glynde Place whilst we were swooping past fast) and walked to the Trevor Arms for cups of tea, coffee and three slices of chocolate cake, for much needed calories. Our two-carriage train from Ashford arrived packed out as usual, already three bikes in the allotted spot, plus luggage & baby in pushchair in aisle, but all seven of us were allowed on, fortunately, since next train was an hour away. Mick & I arrived back at Brighton in time to catch the last vestiges of the Food & Drink Festival on our way home & to bag a few bargains.

Alpacas

A great day out along quiet country lanes lined with celandines, early blossom, birdsong, some soaring descents & fine views, as well as ducks, a pig, donkeys, lambs, sheep and llamas. Thanks Jim for organising and leading us safely there and back.

Anne