The Next Ride: Sunday 7 August 2011 – Three Bridges to Eridge

27 July 2011

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

(Part II of the Route 21 Trilogy)

This ride has something in common with Ian McEwan’s Atonement. That does not mean that someone will be accused of a crime of which they are entirely innocent, nor that there will be guest appearances by Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. No, the parallel with Atonement is in the fact that the ride, like the novel, has multiple endings. But more of that later (at the end, in fact).

We start out along the familiar Worth Way, and will get a glimpse of the frontage of Gullege, the old house which we saw the back of the last time we came this way (on the Bluebell Line ride, in March). Ian tells me that Pevsner had this to say about it:

A beautiful Jacobean house … (The) front is stone-faced, smooth, with three equal gables and mullioned windows. The other sides show their timber-framing. Good chimneystacks, one of star-shape, the others square, set diagonally.

However, when we reach East Grinstead, after a brief detour to look at the brand new Victorian railway station on the Bluebell Line, we just keep going – through East Grinstead’s High Street with its many old buildings, including the 400-year-old Sackville College, and onto the continuation of Route 21, known here as the Forest Way.

The Forest Way is a cycle route that is also, apparently, a Country Park – and very nice it is too, and dead flat of course as it is the continuation of the old railway line from East Grinstead to Groombridge (or Ashurst Junction to be precise). After a couple of miles we come to the ruins of Brambletye House. Pevsner again (via Ian):

The impressive ruin of the house which Sir Henry Compton built in 1631. Still entirely Elizabeto-Jacobean in style … The symmetrical front of the house is still easily recognised with its central porch, canted bays l. and r. and towers at the angles. These are of four storeys, and one has still got its ogee cap.

Then lunch at Forest Row; the Chequers Inn Hotel has a good range of reasonably priced dishes, and does not require pre-booking; so in fact we can, if we choose, decide to go somewhere else, such as the café next door which will also be open. And if anyone wants to bring a picnic lunch, they can probably eat outside the pub, or stop off at one of the Forest Way’s many picnic tables and arrange a rendezvous after lunch.

On the short trip between the cycle path and the lunch stop we will actually cross the River Medway. Luckily it is not as wide here as it is at Rochester, and doesn’t even get a mention on the plaque that records the history of Forest Row Bridge. But the Medway it is, and in fact we will cycle along its valley for some 6 miles before it turns abruptly north just before Groombridge.

The last 2 miles we will be on a country lane, and I am afraid there is some “undulation” here, but it will soon be over. At Eridge Station we wave goodbye to Route 21, which now points to Rotherfield and other places we will meet in the third part of the Trilogy. The Spa Valley Railway will be running trains into Eridge (but not steam trains I’m afraid as it is a Diesel Gala Weekend). We might get a cup of tea there.

We then come to the aforementioned choice of endings:

(Normal: 22 miles) Return by train from Eridge (via East Croydon).
(For Enthusiasts: 34 miles) Train to Uckfield, then cycle from Uckfield to Glynde (following the route of the second half of the Berwick-Glynde ride we did in April), then train to Brighton.
(Strictly for Addicts: 40 miles) Cycle back to Three Bridges the way you came.
(Strictly for Beginners: 8 miles) Return home by train from East Grinstead (via East Croydon).

Start at Three Bridges Station at 10:40 am (assemble by the cycle racks).
Suggested trains: 9:45 or 10:00 from Brighton; 9.54 from Hove (change at Gatwick); 9:27 from London Victoria; 9:42 from London Bridge.
Duration: The basic 22-mile version will take about 5 hours including lunch.
Return trains from Eridge (option 1) 15:49; (option 2) 16:00; from Glynde 17:53, 18:53.
This is a non-circular ride. Car people can park at Three Bridges but will need to take option 1, 3 or 4.
My mobile: 07742-963239.



27 July 2011

Dear fellow members and friends

Leon Moore rides again!
Good to see that Leon’s back on his bike (see ride report).

Bob Harber rides again!
Bob tells me he has entered the Fenland Clarion’s 25-mile time trial on 6 August (which incorporates the National Clarion championship). He’s entered as representing the Brighton and Hove section. This is his first for almost 3 years. I’ve asked him to make sure to send us a report – so watch this space!

Fancy a Clarion ride in Derbyshire?
I’ve been asked to pass on the following by Ian Clarke, our national secretary:

At the end of the season we have booked the Ilam Hall Youth Hostel for 21st to 23rd of October for our ‘BIG RIDE-OUT’. People can arrive and ride in any way they like, there’s plenty to do for all the family. Hard hilly rides for the hardcore cyclist, leisurely scenic café rides for others, or hill walks for the non-cyclist. The Ilam Hall is one of the best youth hostels in Britain.

I remember staying at Ilam Hall hostel several times in the 1950s. Good to hear that it’s still going when so many hostels have closed. If you might be interested in the Big Ride Out, contact Ian at

Bike Fixing – Message from John
The take-up for bike fixing is as follows: 

31st July
 and 14th August 
[names omitted here, but they will be in your email circular].

People should meet at the peace statue on the Brighton/Hove seafront at 10:00 am with their bicycles. Please bring along your tool kit and pump.



Adam Trimingham’s charity ride
Keen readers of the Argus will have spotted a little piece about Adam’s charity bike ride. Though not a member of B&H Clarion, Adam has been on our mailing list from its inception and whenever I see him he always tells me how much he enjoys our newsletters. Have a look at

Here’s part of what he says there:

In all the years I’ve been cycling I’ve ridden the equivalent of at least five times round the world.
But I’ve never tried to raise money for a good cause through sponsored cycling until now.
I’m part of a group ride on July 27 from Brighton to Paris, a distance of more than 140 miles, in three days of cycling. We return on July 31.
There have been time in the past when I’ve gone that far in a day but the onset of Parkinson’s disease and being almost 69 years old make this ride a real challenge.
Money goes to The Argus Appeal, the charity arm of the paper in Brighton I worked for during much of my career. Sponsored events are the main source of income.
It raises about £200,000 a year for many Sussex people in need For details do see

Cuckoo Trail
I’ve had a message from Southern Water to say that the part of the Cuckoo Trail that was closed is now open. Might be useful news for those planning rides in the autumn.

Future Rides until the end of 2011

27 July 2011

Still looking for an offer to lead the 2 October ride.

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

7 August Three Bridges to Eridge (Jim)
21 August Chichester Harbour – picnic and ferry (Ian)
4 September* Hassocks to Shoreham, with a picnic by the river (Roger)
18 September* Three Bridges circular (Jim)
4 October*
16 October
6 November
20 November
4 December
18 December Berwick circular (Ian)

*Ian definitely not available

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 89. “First Bicycle Run of the Board” by The Bounder (concluded)

27 July 2011

More extracts from the much longer piece that appeared in the Clarion on 3 August 1895. The end sounds sort of familiar.

At 1.40 the Board issued from the Balham Bicycle Mortuary in triumph. It was a brave sight. Two small boys and the early beery person cheered feebly, while the conductors of passing trams interchanged mysterious signs.

* * * *
Both our Humpers had been in hospital. All the ills that Humpers are heir to had befallen them. Nunquam had never been out without something happening to a nut, bolt, screw, spoke, cap, handlebar or treadles. And when these had been adjusted the “thing” would rattle like a coalbox and break out in fresh places.

* * * *
But the House Surgeon at Balham Bicycle Mortuary is a deft and practical man. Nunquam’s Humper he had thoroughly overhauled and made taut, and my new Clincher he had skilfully adjusted.

* * * *
The Board picked its way forth with great pomp and circumstance. Through Upper Tooting, past the Broadway … we went humping along with great joyance, until well into Merton, when Nunquam drew rein at “The Willing Maid” and “signified the same” in a beaker of Somebody’s Entire which tasted like the rinsings of a washtub.

[They reach Kingston where the Bounder discovers he has a flat tyre.]

The “used up” young man had blown up the tyre all right but he had forgotten to put the cap on the valve. And Nunquam, who had never turned his head, was out of sight.

* * * *
There was nothing for it but to return to “The Willing Maid”, drink gin, and make enquiries.

[The Bounder returns to Merton.]

When I regained the Merton repairer I found that my man was gone, and another in attendance … The repairer rose to his feet and observed, “What silly blank, blank, blankety blank has been messin’ with this ‘ere valve?”

Next time – Swiftsure’s epic 330-mile ride from Manchester to Folkestone and back to London.

The last ride: Sunday 24 July 2011- Plumpton circular

26 July 2011

Whenever I am invited or persuaded to write a ride report I hear the words of a good friend who once offered me this advice “Keep it simple, stupid”. (Thank you Rupert.)

On this occasion I’m finding it difficult to heed his good advice.

As a prelude to this Sunday, the weather had been, to put it bluntly, bloody awful and I began to think that I had made a bloomer in inviting any Clarion member to join me at Hassocks station to ride the five miles to Plumpton station. As Sunday crept near I had received no takers and was wondering if I would be cycling to Plumpton alone.

I am very pleased to report that Joyce decided to take my offer. I waited at Hassocks station for only a few minutes for the 9.53 to arrive with Joyce on board.

B&H Clarion Ride 24-07-2011.

Leaving Hassocks and heading to Plumpton in glorious sunshine, we sped along through Ditchling and onto the stony track through Streat and on to Plumpton, arriving at the station by 10.30. We were soon joined by Rob who sat himself down on the downside platform, Joyce and I were waiting on the up-side to meet the Lewes train hopefully full of eager riders. The London train crawled into Plumpton depositing Jim, TJ, Joan and Richard. Angela arrived by car and Jenny, our leader cycled from Cooksbridge near Lewes.

2. Chailey Common

The group of nine were busy with greetings and happy talk for several minutes before I took the start of ride group photo. Moments later we were on our way but only a few yards up the road we all stopped at a village shop for the odd items that we needed to continue our journey. Off again to Plumpton Green and the Plough PH to view the War Memorial and admire a splendid campsite with some lightweight campers, that started another topic about cycle-camping and some very good memories of friends that TJ, Joan and I share. (The Association of Lightweight Campers.)

1. Leon photographing the war memorial

Back in the saddle and up to the windmill and St. George’s at Chailey Common where we spent some time looking at the wonderful buildings and the windmill that was not open today.

5. Angela and the Windmill

A very pleasant ride through the common and out onto the A275 for a short distance to Warrs Hill Lane where shortly after I received a gift from the road in my rear tyre.

6. Leon's Puncture

The call went out loud and clear “Puncture” and all came to a standstill while I popped the wheel out and removed the tyre and tube. A flint was removed and a new inner tube inserted and back on the road. Speeding along Butterbox Lane and Sloop Lane, no the tide never came up this far, it’s named after The Sloop Inn.

Passing under the Bluebell Railway with a beautiful steam loco pulling many old coaches, no time for a photo, it happened too quick. [Note from Jim: Not too quick for me … but my stupid auto-focus camera focussed on the hedge, with the train a blur in the background!]

13. Fletching

Next down Ketch’s Lane and crossing the A275 at Sheffield Green and onto Fletching High Street where we stopped for lunch at the Rose and Crown PH. Nine happy cyclists enjoyed good food and warm sunshine in the garden at the back of the pub. After eating, drinking and chatting I repaired my punctured inner tube.

10. Mending the Tube

When it was time to depart, Joan and TJ left the main group to head up to Sheffied Park to catch a train to Kingscott station and a short ride to East Grinstead to join the main line home. We were ready to ride on, through one of the most wonderful villages I have seen, not just in Sussex but in the whole of the UK. I speak of Fletching, worthy of a second visit when more time is available.

On to Jackies Lane and Oxbottom and Cinder Hill and again the A275 where seven of us spent a pleasant hour having tea at The Horns Lodge PH.

B&H Clarion Ride 24-07-2011.

Now as if one puncture was not enough, fate struck a blow at Richard who was quietly riding along enjoying the tranquillity of time, space and everything, when suddenly a very strange noise accompanied a flat tyre. The noise woke me from my blissful thoughts and all came to another halt. Richard quickly up-ended his bike to remove the rear wheel and tyre, only to find a gathering of anxious faces closely watching.

14. Richard's Puncture

Everyone wanted to help, I took the tyre to look for the offending object, only to discover a tear in the sidewall of the tyre. A brake block had been poorly set and had been leaving its fatal cut into the side of the tyre. There was nothing we were equipped with to make a repair*, so in went a new tube and fingers crossed we headed on the final run back to Plumpton.

While heading down Honeypot Lane I decided that my best route back to Hassocks was to leave the group at the junction with Novington Lane and head back up to Plumpton Green and Hassocks via Ditchling Common.

Farewell my friends, it’s great to see smiling faces and hands waving in friendship when we part. My journey back found me riding with a young father with two young children cycling home after their cycle outing. I hope the Clarion group had a safe final section to Plumpton. I am sure that despite two little problems on the road we all enjoyed a great day. Thank you Jenny, your ride was wonderful.


* In retrospect, I did have some Gaffa tape in my repair bag. This could be used over the bead and the inside of the tyre to make a simple ‘get you home’ repair.

[Many more photos on Flickr]

The Next Ride: Sunday 24 July 2011 – Plumpton circular

11 July 2011

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

25 miles with shorter options, some hilly bits

Meet at Plumpton station at 10.45 (there are two options for trains, see below). We’ll head north to Chailey Common, where we go off-roading for a short distance on what should be good dry tracks this time of year (if not we can use the main road). We can stop to admire the windmill, also St George’s, an interesting 1930s building complex that was once part of Chailey Heritage.

Some people might like to peel off soon after and take a shortcut to the lunch pub in Fletching for extra beer-consuming time, but the route is rather hilly and could involve some walking. Otherwise we’ll continue to Ketches Lane, which we’ve used in the past, crossing the A275 at the Elephant Trading Post and heading into Fletching and the Rose and Crown for lunch. There are one or two minor undulations on the way. If anyone prefers to bring a picnic there’s bound to be somewhere in Fletching for that.

After lunch there are two options for the ride to the tea stop: a 5-mile short version and a 10-mile, er, longer version. If we split into two groups I can give the leader of the short-version group a route sheet to follow. Tea will be at the Horn’s Lodge, a pub in south Chailey. They can serve us tea and coffee, but will not have any food available mid-afternoon. However they have said they don’t mind us discreetly eating our own cake in the garden – so BRING CAKE if you want some!

From the Horn’s Lodge it’s only about 2½ miles back to Plumpton station, unless any racy people want to avoid a bumpy concrete farm track, which adds a mile or so.

There are two options if there are lots of you (I’ll be cycling to Plumpton):

(1) From Brighton, catch the 9.29 & change at Lewes for Plumpton, BUT there is a half-hour wait at Lewes (and sadly the marvellously eccentric Runaway Café isn’t open on Sundays yet).

(2) From Brighton, catch the 10.00 & change at Wivelsfield, arriving at Plumpton at 10.40.

There’s plenty of free car parking at Plumpton, and of course it’s possible to cycle from Brighton and enjoy hurtling down the Beacon road on the way.

I’m looking forward to seeing people again, as it’s been ages since I’ve been able to Clarion it!


Leon adds:
BOOTS, some members may not know Wivelsfield railway station. Jenny suggested that Wivelsfield station may be a useful alternative to Lewes station as a connection to the Plumpton line. Members should be aware that there are many steps to carry your cycle down, and back up to the southbound platform.

May I suggest another route to Plumpton via Hassocks station and a cycle ride through Keymer – Ditchling – Streat – Plumpton, distance of about four and a half miles, includes two miles of safe, but a little bumpy, off road track. If the weather is good I will be available to guide members on this route to Plumpton. Please contact me if you want to join me. Many thanks,

mobile 07512414150

The Last Ride: Sunday 10 July 2011 – Palace Pier to Berwick

11 July 2011

[Lots more photos on Flickr]

A sunny ride of ups & downs and comings & goings. Mick led off a group of thirteen from the Palace Pier: Corinne, Joan, Joyce, Leon (back on his bike earlier than expected after his recent op), Lynne (Corinne’s sister), Richard, Rob, Roger, Sue, Suzanne, Tessa, and TJ.

Brighton Clarion Cycle Ride 10 July 2011. Start of ride at the Palace Pier, Brighton. Photo by Leon.

Ann was with us in spirit since she helped to plan the ride. Everyone was pleased to hear from Mick that she is recovering well after her accident; unfortunately she wasn’t yet quite ready for a full day in the saddle.

Brighton Clarion Cycle ride 10 July 2011

The route took us along the undercliff path and the grassy cliff top to Newhaven, hence the ups and down. The goings started at the Ovingdean café where Joan discovered that her rear wheel was damaged so she and TJ headed back towards Brighton.

Brighton Clarion Cycle ride 10 July 2011

Then Helen joined us as we started the biggest of the ups – the climb out of Saltdean. After that it was gentle (and some not so gentle) ups and downs all the way to Newhaven. We stopped briefly at Peacehaven to admire the Greenwich meridian as it leaves England on its standard-setting journey round the world.

Brighton Clarion Cycle ride 10 July 2011

The cliff top between Peacehaven and the Newhaven Fort is wonderful: spectacular views, wild flowers, precipitous drops to the sea and birdsong you can hear clearly because there’s no traffic within earshot.

Once down at sea level the goings got going again with Lynne, Helen and Suzanne all peeling off between Newhaven and Seaford. The nine who remained took to the beach, from where Joyce, Leon and Mick took to the water for an exhilarating swim in the choppy channel.

Brighton Clarion Cycle ride 10 July 2011

Lunch was then served, or perhaps shared is a better word; amongst the goodies passed round were olives, flapjack, cherries, gooseberries, flapjack and mince pies. How did anyone manage to get up off the beach and back onto their bikes?

Well, we did, but as we were setting off Rob discovered that he had acquired a puncture so we all helped him fix it by sitting around and making entertaining conversation while he speedily changed the tube.

Brighton Clarion Cycle ride 10 July 2011

Having led us along the ups and downs of the coast this far, Mick decided not to chance his luck with Seaford Head. Instead he found a sneaky back route to get us down to the Cuckmere valley. So it was not long before we were settled round a table at the Litlington Tea Gardens, enjoying cream teas, toasted teacake, chocolate cake and cucumber sandwiches, all washed down with tea from bottomless pots.

As we left Litlington, Roger became the next of the goings as he decided to head back to Seaford to catch a train rather than going on to Berwick. Oh – that’s me! So the report ends here. Will we ever know what happened to the eight who stuck to the plan to end the ride at Berwick?*


* If anyone does want to send in a brief report on this I’ll make sure it goes in the next issue. I’m very busy today and need to get this out as soon as possible. Ian.

News and Tour de France

11 July 2011

11 July 2011

Dear fellow members and friends

I shall be away after the next ride until late on the Tuesday – so the next newsletter will be a couple of days later than usual.

I realise that not everyone shares my interest in (top-level) cycle racing but, with the Tour de France on, more people take a look at it than during the rest of the year. Sad that so many of the race contenders – not least Bradley Wiggins with his broken collarbone – have gone out with injuries, but good to see Mark Cavendish with two stage wins already. In Paris on Sunday week I shall have my fingers crossed that he can repeat his successes of the last two years and win the final stage on the Champs Élysées. Which will be a record.

As I’ve already said, I know not everyone will be interested – but some will – and to those I’d like to recommend David Millar’s new memoir Racing Through the Dark. I’m reading it at the moment. It’s very well written, which makes a change from some cyclists’ memoirs that sometimes seem to be a succession of “… and then I fell off my bike again”. And it helps greatly in understanding the doping that went on in the last decade – which always seemed so counterproductive and suicidal from the outside.

And while I’m in the mood for recommending cycling literature I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned before Tim Hilton’s One More Kilometre and We’re in the Showers (2005). This is a very different sort of book, which covers many aspects of wider cycling culture in Britain and to a lesser extent France and Belgium. Not sure, though, whether I totally agree with what he has to say about the Clarion. I’ll just quote the key paragraph (see page 43):

In these ways the Clarion clubs have given us two leading characteristics of British cycling. First, cycling is not a political sport, but it does belong to the leftward side of humanity. Second, cyclists do not on the whole wish to be governed and are often unable to govern each other. The administration of cycling, from the smallest clubs to the largest, has often been a shambles. That’s the way most of us like it.

Last bit is reassuring – for me at least!

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 88.”First Bicycle Run of the Board” by The Bounder

11 July 2011

The board (spelt Bored on at least one occasion) was the editorial board of the paper. This piece is quite a long one – so I’m just extracting a few bits, this time and next, to give the flavour of what appeared in the Clarion on 3 August 1895.

The place was Balham, the date last Saturday, the time 1 p.m. Glorious sunshine, fine breeze, blue sky – and plenty of it.

“I have heard a curious rumour to the effect,” said Nunquam, “that the ex’s of Board meetings are defrayed by the firm.”

“It is so, Effendi, ” I replied.

“Then,” said the blue black protagonist of Humanity, with the faintest suspicion of a subliminal chuckle, ” as Dangle has not returned from Kamskatka, and bearing in mind the fact that Mont Blong is holding his Socialist picnic at Bingley and that the Candid Friend is getting his hay in in Cheshire, why should not we take auspicious time by the ‘what’s its name’ and hold a Board meeting on our own?”

“Beshrew the hour, ’tis well bethought.”

“Why not take our Humpers?

‘And join the glad throng
That goes humping along’

There is an old-fashioned inn at Thames Ditton a mile beyond Kingston.”

I replied “the which is kept by one Haywood, the father of the Surrey cricketer, where there are kobwebls on the bottles – and plently of ’em – and where the Board might stuff its democratic stomach with a fat kapon.”

“Amen,” said Nunquam.

Next time – The “First Bicycle Run of the Board” actually gets going – and finishes.

Future rides until the end of 2011

11 July 2011

Jim has now put his name down for the 18 September ride. Anyone willing and able to take on 2 October?

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

24 July* Plumpton circular (Jenny)
7 August  Three Bridges to Eridge (Jim)
21 August  Chichester Harbour -picnic and ferry (Ian)
4 September*  Hassocks to Shoreham, with a picnic by the river (Roger)
18 September* Three Bridges circular (Jim)
4 October*
16 October
6 November
20 November
4 December
18 December  Berwick circular (Ian)

*Ian definitely not available