The Next Ride: Sunday 10 July 2011 – Palace Pier to Berwick c 21 miles

28 June 2011

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

If we start at 10.30 at Palace Pier we should be able to get to Seaford for lunch. 

We had hoped to try the proper cliff-top, but hilly, section to Rottingdean, but a car ploughing into me on the NCN 81 in Hove last Monday put out our plans. [NO, I am not all right, yet!] Now that the Undercliff Walk is allowable for cyclists we’ll go that way carefully. Even the newish cycle track on Madiera Drive needs a lot of care, but, hopefully, we’ll all enjoy the ride to Saltdean. We do have a hill to ride or walk now, but a good track off the road. At the entrance to Peacehaven the NCN2 crosses the coast road & there’s an incline up to the summit of the Downs! Or there is a path along the cliff edge over grass & stony track. This can be pushed if necessary & like the upper route affords views. At the east end of Peacehaven the NCN 2 goes up a stony track on the sea side of the coast road. I’ve cycled it, if that’s any guide to its incline. Nearly at the top lives an alpaca with his friend, a goat, & if you call them, they will come and say hello [sometimes!]. Last time we did the ride, a couple of weeks ago, we followed a young couple with panniered bikes, all along the cliff edge path to Newhaven & this was wild, peaceful, exciting & bushy. Some bits, we all pushed. This path comes out into Newhaven Country Park & a good road down to the harbour where we rejoin the NCN 2. Actual NCN 2, with goats & alpaca if you’re lucky, after stony lane goes through caravan park then down a long hill through a council estate.

It’s a very pleasant Riverside cycle path by Newhaven Harbour & there are food stops here, but we don’t want to go there, as soon we are on the Tidemills Nature Reserve which has picnic tables & pleasant paths & is a haven for birds. After that it’s quick hop to Seaford seafront with the track along the beach. We can picnic here & swim. There is small beach café, but the pubs in town are not much good. Leaving Seaford via quiet roads along by the golf course, we deviate from the NCN 2 as that leads us onto a busy, narrow road. We go past a farm, down a grassy hill overlooking Cuckmere Haven & onto a footpath that leads along ditches, benches, bushes among the lovely Seven Sisters Country Park. There’s a tiny bit of busy road, then we turn left at Friston Forest along a little road which may be busier on Sundays than when we’ve been in the week.

Soon we are at Litlington Tea Gardens, which date from 150 years ago, among mature trees. Clarion’s been there before but I missed that & consider the place a real treat & well worth a stop, with healthy food: Les Routiers recommended, possibly because the route is part of La Route de la Manche, linking France through Newhaven & Dover, Dieppe & Calais.

We head towards Alfriston, but don’t enter, turning right for Berwick instead & a good track, especially the latter part, which is off road & leads almost to the railway to Brighton etc. Trains at 15.48, 16.48, 17.48 etc. Seaford to Brighton trains 15.57, 16.27, 16.57, which are also listed as going to London Victoria. Newhaven to London 16.02, 16.32, 17.02, 17.32, which also go to Brighton. All trains to Brighton take about half an hour.

Mick’s mobile – 07803 730401.


The Last Ride: Sunday 26 June 2011 – Herstmonceux

28 June 2011

[More photos on Flickr]

When I saw the mist and felt the chilly wind as I freewheeled down Elm Grove I wondered, like some others, if we could really trust that weather forecast, which had predicted a very hot day. But we should have had faith because, in total opposition to the previous ride (ah the variety of Clarioning!), this turned out to be not only a dry but also a wonderfully balmy day. That it was going to be warm was already clear by the time Mick and Joyce got off the train at Polegate to join the others who had arrived in various ways. So we were: our leader Tessa, Angela, Helen, Ian, Joyce, Mick, Rob and Leon (a big surprise because we knew he could not ride yet after his thumb operation – but, determined not to miss the picnic, he had come by car and “shadowed” us). A lot of time spent disrobing and sun-creaming then we were off towards the familiar Cuckoo Trail and on to Rickney and the Pevensey Levels.

Start of Clarion ride at Polegate, East Sussex.

It was idyllic to be on the Pevensey Levels on such a day. At times when the wind blows hard and it is raining they can be bleak and almost desolate – on this day though, as we bowled along, we were surrounded everywhere by soft greenery, contented cows, low-lying canals and the enormous sky.

Picnic lunch in Herstmonceux Castle grounds.

We soon saw the gleaming dome of Herstmonceaux Observatory with the only incident being Ian’s chain coming off when he went into a rut. Arrived at Herstmonceaux Church where we met up with Leon and his pristine yellow car!!! Plenty of time to explore the All Saints Church (rather unexpectedly imposing); a mixture of 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th century with a very active “Friends of All Saints Church” looking after it.*

Herstmonceux Castle.

Further on we walked through fields to our picnic site – a valley with the castle** on one side and the Observatory dome ahead, a fantastic find Tessa. Ian and Joyce opted for the shade of an ancient knobbly sweet chestnut, while the others spread themselves in the – now very hot – sun. Time passed sharing food, talking on the phone to Anne and commiserating with her on her accident, signing a card for her for Mick to take, and discussing that endless topic: car drivers and cyclists.

The ride group arriving at All Saints' Church Herstmonceux.

Once on our way again we encountered the only busy stretch of road, which did not last long, and we were back on the Levels again ending up at the Loom for tea (by the back way because the Cuckoo Trail is closed for sewage works). Sitting in the sun with tea and cakes was a perfect ending to what had been a lovely gentle summer ride. Thank you Tessa (and also Sikka who helped Tessa plan the ride).


All Saint's Church Herstmonceux.

Ian’s additional notes:
*Herstmonceux Church. I now regret being mean and failing to spend a £ on a church guide – which might include information that has come to light since 1965 when Pevsner’s account was first published. What intrigued us, Angela especially, was the Dacre monument with its two male effigies – “the one really spectacular piece in the church” as Pevsner says. If I’ve understood him correctly the monument is to Thomas Lord Dacre, who died in 1533, and his son Sir Thomas Fiennes, but the effigies date from an earlier period and may be representations of Thomas Lord Hoo who died in 1455 and Sir Thomas Hoo, who died in 1486 “and have come to Herstmonceux from Battle Abbey after the Dissolution to be used for the two Fiennes”. Pevsner’s speculation seems plausible – the Reformation and dissolution of the monasteries were just about to get going when Lord Dacre died. But I wish I’d bought that guide!

**Herstmonceux Castle – “a splendid sight” Pevsner thought. But as is so often the case, not entirely what it seems. It was built for Sir Roger Fiennes around 1440 and “in spite of its moat, its battlements, and its turrets, a mansion rather than a castle”. It is also noteworthy as marking the beginning of the new fashion for brick (rather than stone) as a building material. But it was dismantled in 1777 “and remained a ruin until restoration was taken in hand by Col. Lowther in 1913 and more seriously, and indeed exemplarily by Sir Paul Latham in 1933”.

News: Anne’s accident and Bricycles rides

28 June 2011

Dear fellow members and friends

On Sunday we were all horrified to hear about Anne’s accident. Let’s hope for the speediest of recoveries (see her “accident report” below”.) On the subject of which, it was good to hear of the success of Leon’s thumb operation.

Did anyone do the London to Brighton this year? If so do send me a report and I’ll see it goes in the next newsletter

Anne’s Accident

Hi Ian,

Wish we’d taken your oft-repeated advice to join CTC in order to get their 3rd party insurance, as I had a car crash into me on Monday on the National Cycle Network 81 [I think it is] up to the Dyke Railway Trail! Landed up on this woman from Dorking’s car bonnet, was sort of rolled off into the gutter/verge & she called ambulance, which fortunately, came quickly & took me, almost home, to A & E, where I had CT scan, 3 X-rays, stitches, glue etc. They were going to let me go home at 5pm but when I tried to stand up I fainted, so was kept in Obs. for another 3 hours, before Mick could wheel me home.

Bike was perfectly all right but I’m deeply bruised, black eye, deep cut near eye stitched like Frankenstein, can only walk v. slowly with sticks, have whiplash etc. Wonder where I should report the accident bike-wise. I do feel that the NCN blue signs are far too small & that motorists should be made aware that they are sharing a NATIONAL CYCLE NETWORK trail & to drive slowly. Now agree with the Greens on 20mph speed limits, ESPECIALLY on NCN.



She added earlier today:

Am feeling bit better this am and looking forward, now, to writing up our ride for July 10th. Now agree with the Greens on 20mph speed limits, ESPECIALLY on NCN.

Bricycles’ evening rides

Bricycles members will have already received this information, but I thought it was worth passing this message on.

Some of you may remember that Bricycles Evening rides were once an important part of the Bricycles calendar. There is a proposal to resurrect these.

There will be trial rides on Thursday July 7th and Tuesday July 19th.

In the summer months, a departure at 5:30pm from Brighton (Palace) pier enables us to be riding by the sea or in the beautiful sunlit Sussex countryside until about 7pm (about 12 miles), followed by a pub meal (perhaps in the garden). There is then a shorter ride (about 10-25 min, [1-4 miles] and possibly in the dark) to a nearby station to bring us home by about 9:30. Rides are generally on quiet roads (or smooth off-road tracks) and easy-paced. The route and final destination can be divulged in advance to anyone who wants to go slower or faster than the main group. In wet weather the ride is likely to be cancelled. In windy conditions the ride out of Brighton will be downwind, returning upwind by train (!).

Bring with you: money (for train and pub), map (if possible); light wet weather clothing (probably will not be needed), warm clothing and lights (for the final ride to the station, possibly after dark), mobile phone (if possible), water, puncture outfit (or take the risk and be prepared to walk to the nearest station which will not be far away).

If possible, please let me know in advance that you plan to come (to facilitate pub catering arrangements) and give me your mobile phone number.

Disclaimer: You are responsible for your own safety. Only come if you are confident about riding and capable of taking care of your bike.

If you have any queries, call Paul on 01273 883851 or email


from Paul Tofts

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 87. A “good tale” about the general election

28 June 2011

To fully appreciate Swiftsure’s tale from 27 July 1895 one needs to know a little about the “Manchester Fourth Clause”. In 1892, in its first year of publication, the Clarion had supported the formation of the Manchester and Salford ILP. Its “fourth clause” committed members from abstaining from supporting non-socialist candidates in all circumstances. This reflected the fact that for decades attempts to promote “Labour” candidates had been absorbed in one way or another by the Liberal Party – most notably in the case of the “Lib-Labs” elected in some mining constituencies. In 1893 the national ILP was formed and Manchester ILP – and the Clarion – had unsuccessfully campaigned for the “Fourth Clause” to be part of its constitution. The paper had by no means given up the struggle for getting this adopted two years later. Sadly, the 1895 general election was a great disappointment for the ILP. Full of enthusiasm and zeal it had hoped to get at least a few MPs elected, but failed everywhere and even its one existing MP – Keir Hardie (who had been elected before the formation of the ILP) – was defeated. One has to bear in mind, of course, that at this time all women and about a third of men didn’t have a vote. But here’s Swiftsure’s “good tale”:

I heard a good tale the other day about a Socialist cyclist and the Election. Having removed four or five miles from the district where he had a vote, both sides traced his removal and on the day of the election a carriage was sent by each side to bring him to the poll. Without avail. He wasn’t going to vote for Red or Blue. Learning, however, that he was a cyclist, but had sold his bicycle, one side, later in the day, sent a tandem, the back seat of which was temporally offered to carry him there and back.

It was no use, however. The Fourth Clause had stronger claims than the sleepy seat of the tandem.

Next time – extracts from “First Bicycle Run of the Board”

Future rides until the end of 2011

28 June 2011

I haven’t had to act as “back-stop” so far this year (fingers crossed!) but offers of rides from September onwards seem to have (I’m sure temporarily) dried up, and I won’t be available on either 18 September and 2 October so it would be good if we could get those dates taken care of during the next few weeks – however provisionally.

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

10 July Palace Pier to Berwick (Ann and Mick)
24 July* Plumpton circular (Jenny)
7 August  TBC (Jim)
21 August  Chichester Harbour -picnic and ferry (Ian)
4 September*  TBC (Roger)
18 September*
4 October*
16 October
6 November
20 November
4 December
18 December  Berwick circular (Ian)

*Ian definitely not available

The Next Ride: Sunday 26 June 2011 – Herstmonceux and Wartling

15 June 2011

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

We start on the Cuckoo trail for a short while and then head off to Rickney.

We cross the Pevensey Levels and head for Herstmonceux Church.

Lunch is a picnic in the grounds of Hersmonceux Castle, if fine, or at the Lamb in Wartling, if raining. I suggest we all bring a picnic and take it home again if it rains!  I’ve checked with the pub and there will be no problem.

We carry on past the Observatory in the grounds of Herstmonceux to join a busy road through Wartling and beyond.

Again weather dependent, there is a stretch of off -road that cuts off much of the busy road, but that is only possible if conditions are dry.

We continue through the Levels  back to Rickney and carry on till we hit the Old Loom, our tea stop. Then it’s a short hop back to Polegate.

Getting there

I will be catching the 9.20 from Brighton to Polegate, then have breakfast at the cafe which opens at 10. Breakfast companions welcome!  I suggest others spread themselves between the 10.09 slow train, changing at Lewes and arriving at 11.00, or the 10.20 fast train arriving 10.49.

We should set off from Polegate at 11.00

Distance: c 25 miles

Off road 2  short stretches of off road, some of which will have  to be walked.

Hills:  one hill, a few undulations

Trains back  at 6 (with change at Lewes) and 42 minutes past the hour.


The Last Ride: Sunday 12 June 2011 – Barnham Circular via Littlehampton and Arundel

15 June 2011

[More photos on Flickr]

When I read the words “Climping beach” in Roger’s very comprehensive ride description, I immediately packed my swimming trunks and towel. Although there was no scheduled stop here – and Roger later pointed out that we could not make any unscheduled ones because of the need to get to the pub on time – I thought that, the Clarion being the Clarion, well, there might be a spontaneous democratic uprising in favour of going in for a dip. There wasn’t, but the towel later proved extremely useful, as you will find out.

1. Crossing the A27

A light rain was falling when we (Anne, Joyce, Mick, Richard, Roger, Suzanne and myself) assembled at Barnham station – and, having checked the weather forecast, we were all dressed appropriately, Joyce resplendent in her dazzling “yellows”, and Anne equally resplendent in her “purples”. One disadvantage of this was the fact that the only working camera – Mick’s phone – was underneath three layers of clothing. My own camera having flat batteries, the first half of the ride was something of a photographic desert – though this was the only sense in which it resembled a desert at all.

3. A misty view of Arundel Castle

Roger had done some extensive and very impressive research (including liberal use of Google Earth) for this ride, which was full of contrasts and surprises – and water, unfortunately. Thankfully, some of the water had bridges over it – including Lidsey Rife, which is apparently an area of floodplain that has been designated a “Biodiversity Opportunity Area”, although the map shows it as a waterway. The track which took us across the Rife was a particularly pleasant one, which had apparently been recently upgraded from a footpath. It eventually transformed itself into Hoe Lane, and propelled us onward through Flansham and Middleton (or Myddleton) to the coast and the promised walk on the beach. Sally had told me we would probably see terns here, and indeed, we did see birds that fitted her description; they seemed to hang motionless in the air, but I did not see them dive as I gather they are supposed to. Perhaps they were young ones that had not learnt that part yet.


We took a brief detour to look at the Baliffscourt Hotel. This is a collection of interesting mediaeval-looking buildings just off Climping Street, but Roger had not been able to find any historical background on the internet. And no pictures either – sorry!* Then it was on across the fields to Brookpits Lane and Littlehampton, and, more to the point, the welcoming dryness of the Arun View Hotel where we had superb food and service. After the usual lunchtime conversations ranging from the recent cycling tour of the Loire Valley by Joyce, Anne, Mick, John and Jo  to next year’s Clarion weekend ride (Bath & Bristol, anyone?) Suzanne proposed a motion that we stay in the pub until it stopped raining – but clearly it wasn’t going to, and in fact when we came out of the pub it was a lot heavier than when we went in. This was serious stuff now – wind and rain conspiring together to lash and sting your face, and “waterproof” garments showing their limitations to the full. After Lyminster, a very nice lane took us to Poling, and next came a traditional Extreme Sport beloved of Clarionettes, known as “crossing the A27”. We all made it – this time – and proceeded to Warningcamp and Arundel. I had by now bought new batteries for my camera, and so was able to catch a misty view of Arundel Castle.

Once in Arundel, it turned out that Roger had, very impressively, lined up not only a “first choice tea stop” but also a “second choice tea stop” – both, alas, closed. So we had tea, coffee and cakes at Partners Café. By now we were seriously wet, and this was where the aforementioned towel finally came into its own. Always know where your towel is, said Douglas Adams – preferably, in our case, in your pannier, and inside something waterproof!

4. The Tea Stop

After the “one serious hill” that Roger had warned us about, we had a sort of Man From Uncle moment. In that 60s TV series, the characters would go into what appeared to be an innocuous shop and out the back door into a modern spy centre. (Or something like that – it was a long time ago!) Here, we slipped through a hedge in a modern housing estate and emerged, straight into the 1950s – a funny little lane with an old-fashioned signpost. This was Tortington Lane, which led us into Ford Road, over the railway, and eventually into Maypole Lane, at the end of which a second Extreme Sport was awaiting us – a popular pastime known as “Crossing the Railway”. (Without the benefit of bridges, subways, level crossings and all that paraphernalia, that is). When Joyce, the last over, emerged into Lake Lane she assured us there had been no trains in sight, whereupon a green blur rushed past at about 120mph. Phew! A narrow escape, that one.

Shortly after this, Mick discovered he had a puncture. As he and Anne had come by car, the rest of us pressed on for the final mile, Anne to fetch their car and rescue Mick, the other five for Barnham station and a final round with the towel. 23 miles, 100 gallons of rain, 7 happy wet cyclists and only one puncture. Thanks Roger! Let’s do this one again soon and hope fine weather will make a wonderful ride into a superb one.


* There is a photo of ” Bailiffscourt, by Amyas Phillips, 1935″ on p 62 of the Sussex volume of The Buildings of England. Ian Nairn gives it an unusually long write-up which begins “What on earth can a topographer committed to a C20 style of architecture, yet committed also to recording the memorable without fear or favour say about Bailiffscourt? It was originally the house of the bailiff of the abbey of Séez in Normandy and from this the CHAPEL remains; a late 13 century building… All the rest dates from 1935, built by Lord Moyne and his architect Amyas Phillips, and it poses a moral problem which is not at all simple”. But he goes on to say that it’s ” a lovely house”. In the general intro to West Sussex he calls it “the astonishing mirage of Bailiffscourt, immaculately C15 in its honey-coloured stoned , surrounded by genuinely transplanted buildings. Dornford Yates, if you like; but done with panache and sensitivity”.


A Loire Tour – Mick’s Story

15 June 2011

[More photos on Flickr]

The journey started well with a calm crossing, enlivened by meeting Mag and Peter Morris on board.

We set off from Dieppe after a swift exit from the ship.The problems of staying in convoy were soon eased in Rouen when she who must be obeyed, the Satnav not Anne, told me to turn right at a roundabout while John and Jo in front sailed on tout droit.


We made good progress and made a stop 40 kms short of Le Mans. I thought I would just check the bike carrier. To my horror I realised that the frame of the bike carrier had irretrievably collapsed and the bikes were held on by the straps alone. Failure of one of them could have led to our bikes being scattered over the motorway, which would have been very inconvenient for us not to mention the cars behind.

The following hour we wrestled with an updated equivalent of getting a dozen students in a phonebox, namely getting 3 bikes, 2 bike baskets, 3 people and 9 bags into our car. During this time in a vain attempt to remove Joyce’s rear wheel I managed to get her chain into a position which would have foiled Rubik himself, though fortunately not John. With a degree of violence to the bikes and the car, the boot was finally slammed shut and we drove on to Amboise where John and Jo were not waiting for us, having suffered their own wrestling problems with their satnav.

cycling down Loire 003

Finally all present, we were hungry and with Anne running towards us to tell us the restaurant would be taking final orders at 9 we hurried on to a delightful open air meal outside the old Hotel de Ville accompanied by the high-pitched calls of the swifts.

The next day we were up early and watched with admiration as John put all the bikes back together. Then we had a quick trip to Leonardo da Vinci’s last home in Amboise and time for some photos of the lovely bridge and imposing chateau before setting off on the Loire a velo trail. This took us up a hill and away from the river and we battled our way  westward through vineyards against a stiff headwind. At this point it dawned on us that travelling west to east with the prevailing wind might have been a smart move.

The Loire a velo trail is generally well signposted but just occasionally a little more thought could have been put into the location of signs. Nevertheless despite a few missed signs we reached Tours for lunch and a trip to the Cathedral before negotiating a lot of traffic and more missed signs to  leave Tours. Finally we reached a lovely spot on the banks of the Cher for a drink and to admire the terns as they fluttered kestrel-like before diving dramatically from height to catch a fish. Soon after we came across a lovely old mill  dating from 1515 on the bank of the river. Finally we arrived at the charming old village of Savonieres. That first day my odometer recorded 35 miles

That night Joyce, Anne and I were at a small cafe/ hotel with just 4 bedrooms while John and Jo were 3 kms further on in Villandry. The food was very good but unfortunately our room was right on the road which for such a small village had a remarkable amount of traffic throughout the night all of which roared up to the nearby roundabout and accelerated off again; leaving us in poor shape to face the 44 miles of the next day.

The weather looked a bit dodgy but the wind was not quite as strong as we cycled along the bank of the river to Villandry to rejoin the others and pay a visit to the castle and its wonderful gardens. We had hoped to cycle to the famous chateau at Azay-le-Rideau but decided that 44 miles into the headwind was going to be quite enough for one day

We carried on along the bank of the river, only stopping briefly to shelter during a shower. After that the weather improved as we turned inland to view the, literally, fairy-tale,castle, which inspired the story of Sleeping Beauty, at Usse.

After lunch at a more prosaic sandwicherie in Avoine we carried on to the magnificent confluence of the Cher and the Loire at Candes-St-Martin and then to the nearby castle at Montsoreau. From there we went further along the river until Turquant where we turned inland to see the extraordinary troglodyte dwellings. Some used as dwellings but others as cafes and art galleries . There were more hills to negotiate before we reached Saumur. John and Jo had gone on there to meet their friends. By luck just as were wondering where the hotel was we bumped into them in the middle of Saumur and they were able to tell us the way.

cycling down Loire 006

That night we and John and Jo’s 4  friends Paul, Marie , Marika and Giis had a meal of artisan foods at an amazing troglodyte restaurant which also acted as venue for audiences of 400, while Anne got a good night’s sleep.

The next day we had time for a look at the castle at Saumur and the market before we started out on the bank of the river which drew us to the extent of abandoning the road and cycling along a narrow almost impassable footpath before regaining the Loire a velo signs and a decent track. It was a lovely day for cycling along the river and admiring the traditional boats, the old abbey and another chateau.

It was an easier day, 23 miles on my clock and Jo was able to ride the whole day. A picnic lunch fortified us and we had another stop for a drink at St Remy la Varenne before we crossed the bridge over the Loire and back down the other side of the river to La Menitre. The hotel was closed! except for pre-bookings which included us and we were the only guests. The rooms were quiet  with balconies overlooking the river. Joyce, Anne and I took a trip on the river and we learnt (in Joyce’s case) or gleaned (in Anne and my case) something of the history of the Loire from the guide on the boat. In many ways, though, the Loire here is so big that there is not quite the bird-life of further back.

The restaurant next door to the hotel seemed to have plenty of awards for its cooking, but none for the quality of the welcome. The waitress seemed perplexed at Joyce’s request for vegetarian food and initially could only suggest she ate … vegetables. Not quite Terre a Terre. The waitress also stood  by impatiently while Jo wrestled with her menu decision. The meal was, despite an over-reliance on cream very good and we were beginning to get a taste for the local Bourgeil red wine despite the Loire being best known in the UK for its white wines.

The next day we made our way back to the bridge and at the village there we shopped for our picnic. My rilletttes which were reduced to a greasy slime in the hot sun by lunchtime were probably not the wisest choice and would not have inspired the traditional Clarion photo.

cycling down Loire 017

We cycled inland through  flat agricultural fields and small villages before we came to another small river. 70 or 80 yards ahead of the others I found another cyclist struggling to free the chain of the chain ferry in order to cross the river. We freed it and loaded our 2 bikes and I held the chain while yelling unavailingly for the others to join us and clamber aboard. Eventually they arrived and we hauled ourselves across in two crossings. On the second crossing we met a “benevole”, a volunteer , a driving test examiner during the week, who at weekends guided and assisted other cyclists and walkers and told them about the area. We cycled along with him on a wooded path as he told us about the slate trade and the quarries of the area of which only one now survived.

At his suggestion we had our picnic on top of a slate slag heap from where we had a blessed and much needed  breeze and an excellent view of the countryside and not far away Angers. After a false start we escaped from the slate quarry and decided to take a short cut into Angers.

Our hotel was right next to the Office de Tourisme and opposite the castle. After a mere 21 miles cycling we had time to visit the castle and its extraordinary “Apocalypse” tapestry (definitely a must see if you are ever near Angers) huge in size, imagination, and execution. We also saw the excellent modern tapestry museum. That evening we dined outside in the fine square opposite the theatre, pleased with having met the physical challenge of the trip,  and with having learned from what was for some of us our first experience of multi-stage cycle trips.

The next morning we parted , but not before John had shown us how to loosen the handlebars of the bikes so they would fit into the car more easily. Three days later after visiting friends in the Morvan and our son in Paris we collected Joyce from Aubervilliers just north of Paris and made our way back to Dieppe. On the way we stopped at Rouen and visited its magnificent Cathedral and the market square


cycling down Loire 019

Joyce adds: Mick has done a sterling job of recounting the trip, not much to add except to say my admiration for  the effort the French put into producing an experience for cyclists, much thought and care has been given. Though the route marking was not always entirely clear, we had excellent maps produced by the Touraine tourist office (although Anjou did not do as well).  It was never less than a great experience.  The Valley of the Loire is just that – a wide and ever changing valley and our route took us through vineyards, woods, hugging the river with the wonderful views of the chateaux always round the next bend.  I particularly loved the great and wonderful Loire itself and the views of the white buildings with their slate roofs. Every hotel had secure cycle storage and one really feels cyclists are welcome.

News and Bike Maintenance Courses

15 June 2011

Dear fellow members and friends

Sorry to hear about all that rain during the ride on Sunday – it didn’t reach us on the Norfolk Broads until later in the day. Nice for us – not so nice for those on Roger’s ride. Let’s hope for better weather next time.

There’s been much discussion about “bike-fixing” recently. John is planning some sessions for us. Meanwhile, Leon – who also says “had my surgery for (Trigger thumb sheath reduction) on Wednesday 8th June and have a hand that feels like it’s been through a mincer” – has sent me the following, which he found on the internet, and suggested I pass on.

Bike Maintenance Courses

We are running another series of our popular Bike Maintenance Courses in June/July. Each course runs on a Saturday from 10:30am-4:30pm at our workshop off Elm Grove.

Level 1 – Getting to know your bike
At Level 1 we cover the skills you need to keep your bike running smoothly from week to week. We look at what needs oiling and cleaning regularly, how to keep your brakes and gears working as they should, and how to fix punctures. We also check your riding position: a good posture on the bike makes cycling a lot more comfortable, as well as avoiding potential back or knee strain.
Next course: Saturday 18th June

Level 2 – Basic servicing
Level 2 is where we tackle the jobs that need doing every six months or so. We show you how to change the gear and brake cables, how to replace the chain and brake blocks, as well as checking and maintaining the bike’s main mechanisms to keep everything running smoothly.

Next course: Saturday 25th June

Level 3 – Full servicing
Any bike will benefit from a proper ‘deep’ service at least once a year. On the Level 3 course we dismantle various parts of the bike for cleaning and re-greasing, looking at the hubs, headset, and bottom bracket. We also cover replacing broken spokes and truing wheels.

Next course: Saturday 9th July

The first course you take with us will cost £40. Each subsequent course will then cost £5 less, so any two courses would cost £75, and any three £105. We want to make the courses as affordable and accessible as possible, so these discounts apply over any length of time, and are even transferable between friends and family. Each course is limited to six participants. If you are interested please email or call me directly on 07789094732 (leave a message if I don’t answer and I will get back to you).

1-2-1 Training

Bike for Life also offers individual bike maintenance sessions with our mechanics. These are perfect if you want to focus on particular aspects of fixing your bike or you’re not a fan of learning in a group. The cost is £60 for a 3 hour session. These sessions can also be provided for two people at the same time and for the same price. Perfect for biking couples!

If you, or are someone you know, needs some riding riding tuition, we can also offer 1-2-1 session with our professional instructors. We will aim to travel to a location suitable to you and can even provide a bike for you to use. You can email me: for more details.

We also offer a wide range of gift vouchers, perfect for the bike nut friend or family member. There are lots of different options for both bike maintenance and road riding training. Perfect for special occasions. Email me: for more details.

Enjoying your cycling and if you have any questions or want some more information, get in touch.
Paul, Nick & ‘The Instructors’

Bike for Life, promoting cycling for all.
Workshop: 01273 676278
Nick: 07982 230881 Paul: 07789 094732
Registered charity, no. 1108243, and not for profit organisation, company no. 5216506.

Future rides

15 June 2011

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

26 June Herstmonceux and Wartling (Tessa)
10 July Palace Pier to Berwick (Ann and Mick)
24 July* Plumpton circular (Jenny)
7 August  TBC (Jim)
21 August  Chichester Harbour -picnic and ferry (Ian)
4 September*  TBC (Roger)
18 September*
4 October*
16 October
6 November
20 November
4 December
18 December  Berwick circular (Ian)

*Ian definitely not available