The Next Ride: Sunday 6 May 2012 – Ford circular (about 26 miles ) – CANCELLED

26 April 2012

It’s never good to have to cancel a ride – especially at short notice. It’s not something anyone leading a ride would do without a very good reason – as in this case. But Leon can explain better than I can at second-hand. Certainly, there is no need for him to apologise.

Ian

Clarion ride cancellation.
It is with regret that I can’t lead the ride planned for Sunday 6th May 2012.

I hope when I explain why I can’t ride the lead that you will understand and forgive me.
I have for many years, since 1970 / 71 had a fear of entering the roads on any Bank Holiday.
This is the result of being a Special Constable with the Crawley Constabulary at that time. I was in attendance on many Bank Holiday road traffic accidents on the A23 in and around Crawley. It is a time that haunts me to such an extent that it prevents me from driving and cycling on Bank Holidays.
The May Day Bank holiday this year was only drawn to my attention this-morning (04 May) when I listened to the radio and I was struck with horror that I was to lead a ride on Sunday 06 May, Bank Holiday Sunday. My apologies go to you all who were planning to attend but especially to Joyce and Ian for letting you down at such short notice.

Leon

For those riders using the train from Brighton, be at Brighton by 09:30 for possible GroupSave. Our train departs for Ford at 09:50. It’s a 42-minute journey, arriving at Ford by 11:02.

From Ford the ride will take us south to Ford lane where we enter a series of ‘B’ roads and the occasional short section of ‘A’ roads (unavoidable).

Our halfway point will be Bognor Regis where we will have lunch. The final decision on the lunch stop has yet to be determined but I have a plan in mind that we may go to Tuptim Siam at 6–7 The Esplanade, PO21 1NY. Tel: 01243 862525. They do many vegetarian dishes at £6.95. It looks good.

The return journey will take us out towards Chichester then veering off to Oving and Barnham before reaching Ford on a bare minimum of overrun.

Return trains from Ford:
Depart 15:42, arrive Brighton 16:26
16:44, 17:27
17:42, 18:26
Other trains, change at Barnham arrive platform 2, depart platform 3.
Or cut the ride short and catch a return train at Barnham station.

 
Leon
 leonmoore@btinternet.com
 mobile 07713 429822

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Ride report: The Bath–Bristol Weekend

26 April 2012

The Bath–Bristol Weekend (1)

[Many more photos on Flickr – if you don’t know where that is just click one of the photos below]

Angela, Anne, Fred, Joyce, Leon, Mick, and myself met up at the Real Italian Pizza Co in Bath for Friday dinner, having travelled by various means and various routes. Missing was Amanda, who had been scheduled to join us but had to cancel due to ill health. The next morning, after a rather noisy night (the fracas having apparently been caused by a drunken guest trying to get into someone else’s room), the five “hostellers” met the two “hotellers” at the station and, after a few adjustments to Angela’s bike, Joyce led us off along the river and onto the Bath–Bristol cycle path.

Clarion W/E ride Bath/Bristol 21/22 April 2012

This path was one of the earliest dedicated cycle paths (pre-dating even Sustrans, who later took it on) and follows the route of the old London Midland railway linking Bath with Bristol and (via a junction at Mangotsfield) the north. It was also linked to the much-loved Somerset and Dorset railway (immortalised in the TV documentary “Return to Evercreech Junction”) which linked Bournemouth with such places as Blandford, Wincanton, Glastonbury and, of course, Bath (www.sdjr.net). In fact the rather tempting off-road path that some of us looked longingly at on the Sunday ride, until ordered by me to “carry on up the hill”, was part of it. The whole lot was closed by Beeching in 1966. Part of the line has reopened as the Avon Valley Railway, with the cycle path running alongside it, and at Bitton station there were coaches labelled “The Pines Express – Bournemouth to Manchester”.

Pines Express

Further on another train passed us and we were delighted to see that one of the coaches was called Angela (but sadly no Anne or Joyce). At Warmley station we were glad of a hot cuppa as the heavens opened and we found what shelter we could – some of us, thanks to the kindness of the staff, in the kitchen of the little station cafe. The rails have not yet been restored to Warmley but the platforms are intact, and metal statue people await the return of the train.

Warmley Waiting Room

Most of the stations are still recognisable, and at Mangotsfield Sustrans have even planted trees in the positions of the original canopy columns. Later the path passed through a fairly long section of tunnel – the second tunnel on a Clarion ride in less than a week!

Staple Hill Tunnel!

The history of the line, and of the places it passed through, is told on noticeboards along the route. There is also graffiti, but mainly of the “intelligent” sort – particularly on one bridge where I saw not only art, political and religious slogans, but also (a “first” for me) mathematical equations!

Maths graffiti

Other art works included a sort of “wayside shrine” made of old bits of car engines, with a quote from Ben Okri.

Shrine

Eventually, with 19 miles on the clock, we arrived in Bristol at the official end (or start) of the path with its beautiful sculptured archway made of iron girders growing into branches and leaves.

Clarion W/E ride Bath/Bristol 21/22 April 2012

Then disaster struck; Joyce got a puncture – a complicated one, with an old wheel alignment problem resurfacing. Leon went to help her and gave us instructions for a rendezvous, but by the time the puncture was fixed and the wheel correctly aligned, Joyce and Leon had decided to cycle back to Bath. Most of the rest of us had decided to go back by train, to give us more time to experience Bristol. We had lunch at the Arnolfini Gallery, where we found a copy of Fred’s book “How to Design Websites” in the bookshop!

Freds Book

After a brief look round the gallery, Mick cycled back to Bath – catching up with Leon and a newly “re-cycled” Joyce at the Warmley station cafe – while Fred and I took a ride on a steam train (where the ticket collector turned out to be the son of Clarion members from Bolton!). Then Fred was joined by Anne and Angela while I visited the SS Great Britain, Brunel’s great steamship. Then the four of us got the train back to Bath and, after much “cat-herding”, Joyce managed to corral us all into the Salathai restaurant for a lovely Thai meal.

Thanks, Joyce, for introducing us to this fascinating cycle route, and for a lovely weekend.

Jim

The Bath–Bristol Weekend (2)

Day 2: Sunday; along the Kennet & Avon Canal and back to Bath a rather hilly way!

We assembled at breakfast, after a much better night at the YHA when three of us actually managed to have an uninterrupted sleep, unlike the previous night when no one did. Leon and Jim were not quite so fortunate, with noisy Norwegians and sickly orientals disturbing the peace. Down to the station at a gentler pace than yesterday, when I had descended gingerly, while the leading four hurtled ahead on the steep descent. It was a chilly morning after a wet night and we were lucky to have a volunteer photographer from the public. An American couple looked curiously at our group and made us the offer we couldn’t refuse. He joked that he’d only charge £5 and Mick countered that we usually charged the paparazzi £10 for that privilege. A Clarion visiting card was given instead, so internationalism was reinforced.

The start

Jim then led us down to the water, the bridges, the locks, ducks and ducklings of the Kennet and Avon Canal. As Joyce had warned us, Bath is a very hilly town and it needed six locks, including the UK’s second deepest one, the imaginatively named Deep Lock at 19.5ft, to lower the many barges down to the town. Dozens were lined up for the transit and we were all entranced with the process, the quacking, begging ducks, colourful barges and watery ways.

Clarion W/E ride Bath/Bristol 21/22 April 2012

Jim had to chivvy us on along the sometimes puddley banks to reach his coffee stop. This was a barge with a tea garden on the bank and superb array of healthy but delicious cakes inside. Joyce and I both succumbed to the carrot cake, only after Jim had almost finished his coffee, but there was a bench and some sun, with constant cyclists and passing barges to watch. We did outpace the barges, but had to dismount a few times to pass under the bridges as we didn’t want to slip into the canal. It was so peaceful away from any motorised traffic, just the birdsong, ducks quacking and happy chatter or singing (maybe that was just me) from passing cyclists of all ages and a few runners and strollers.

Bikes and barge

Next stop was the Claverton Pumping Station, which a sign pronounced to be open for visitors and 500 metres down a lane. Fred said he’d guard the bikes while the rest of us trailed down, then quickly over the railway lines, to the pumping station built between 1810 and 1813. Mick describes it as a highlight of the trip, so I’ll let him do that bit*, as I bought some postcards from the dear volunteers and went to rejoin Fred, telling him of the others’ guided tour, then enjoying the passing ducks.

Baby ducks

Back to the canal bank for another mile or so when we reached the Dundas Aqueduct, which carries the canal over the river Avon and the railway line.

Bath Trip 221

Here we had to leave the canal banks and take the NCN24 path to Monkton Combe. The village seemed mostly to consist of the public school, motto ‘Learners today, Leaders tomorrow’, but fortunately there was a pub. What a pub it was too, garlanded with recommendations from Michelin, Alistair Sawday, the Independent etc. Not only that, but it was 1 pm and starting to rain. Initially rejected as they were completely booked up inside, we then decided that we would rather sit outside in the rain under the large umbrella than cycle on in the rain. Nearly everyone had tomato and beetroot soup with chunky bread and it arrived quickly, decorated with parmesan. There was sometimes sunshine and sometimes rain but the food was excellent.

Lunch in the rain

Setting off again we started to climb slowly out of the village, but as we approached Jim’s noted memorial to William Smith – aka the father of English geology – rain returned. Angela spotted a dense fir tree which was dry underneath and so we two sheltered beneath it. Jim came back to find us and to point out the memorial to us, which the others had cycled swiftly by, due to the rain. There remained a few more hills to climb. Mick climbed them on his bike, most of the rest of us walked up, panting. On the very last Jim kindly came back down again to push Fred’s bike up the final stretch. The views then were spectacular, although so were they for the rest of the ride too. Zooming down into Bath was a chance to recover from the climbs, though somewhat twisting.

William Smith Plaque

We regrouped at the end of Entry Hill and discussed dinner arrangements on the traffic island, until moving onto the pavement. Mick suggested we do a self-catering meal at the YHA and he, Joyce and Leon rode off to the supermarket to buy supplies and cart them back up the huge hill to the listed, Italianate mansion, standing in its small park of mature trees (complete with owls and blackbirds) that is Bath YHA. I went with Angela and Fred to visit the Roman Spa, which turned out to be a vibrant modern museum on the ancient site, well appointed with excellent audiophones, with Bill Bryson, Dr Alice Roberts, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and others explaining the various artefacts and living roman characters for avid photographers or curious children to interrogate.

Angela tries the water

We completed our tour with some tea in the eighteenth-century Pump Room restaurant, as frequented by previous mentioned notables. A trio of musicians played for us on the stage and Fred had a hot Bath bun.

Tea in the Pump Room

I had three home-made biscuits, as I was fretting about the huge climb back to the hostel, but I decided to risk going the off-road way that Jim had shown me the previous day, hoping that I did not end up on top of the wrong hill! At the longest set of steps, leading up to the canal path, I was lucky to have a young gentleman of Bath come down the steps and offer to carry my bike up the flight for me. This was the second offer one couldn’t refuse that day, and after that I so enjoyed the rest of the push up Bathwick Hill beside the National Trust fields and behind the expensive, listed houses and their gorgeous springtime gardens.

Bath Trip 226

I arrived, pretty exhausted, in the spacious lounge where Mick, Leon and Joyce were recovering from their day and awaiting Jim’s arrival. He had been to visit the Herschel Museum of Astronomy, dedicated to William Herschel who discovered Uranus in 1781 and doubled the size of the known universe at the time. Jim arrived, soon followed by Angela, who had taken the bus up the hill, then finally Fred, and the cooks went to the kitchen and prepared us all a fine meal to eat in the beautiful wide window of the YHA self-catering dining room.

Bath Trip 229

Very great thanks are due to Joyce who organised our super trip, and to Leon and Jim, who helped her organise and plan the rides. When the rains came down torrentially on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc., we realised how lucky we had been to have enjoyed such a delightful weekend.

Anne

*PS Mention should be made of the group, encountered at Warmley on the first day, even more ancient than ourselves, from the Veteran Cycling Club, some with veteran bikes. One of them was a former member of the Gosport Clarion. The pumping station was indeed fascinating even to the mechanically illiterate (is that possible?) such as me. We had an excellent volunteer guide and even two of our number, Leon and Jim, who seemed to understand what he was explaining. Even without the physics one could marvel at the beauty and the power of the design and the dedication of the volunteers who had restored the machinery.

Mick
(PPS my first ever Clarion report!)

[Many more photos on Flickr – if you don’t know where that is just click one of the photos above]


News and consultations

26 April 2012

Dear fellow members and friends 

Sorry to hear Amanda isn’t well – and I hope Tessa’s cold is clearing up too. Good to hear that the Bath–Bristol weekend went so well – and was relatively rain-free – which is about the best we can hope for at the moment.

Thwarted on Sunday, I was thinking of rescheduling my Chichester/Dell Quay ride to 17 June. Then I noticed that it is the day of the London–Brighton Bike Ride (should have spotted that earlier no doubt!). Will it cause problems with the trains? I will try to check. If you have any info or can remember what might have happened in the past please let me know ASAP. It may be that we’ll have to abandon that date altogether if there are going to be too many problems. If anyone is doing the Ride this year, do send in a report for the newsletter.

There’s been some Google-group exchange of views on the North Laine consultation. There is also a consultation in progress about changes to Lewes Road from the Level to the A27 by-pass. The Vogue Gyratory heading north in the Lewes direction has always been a bit of a nightmare for cyclists (as well as not being very convenient for others – especially pedestrians). The plans talk of “cycle priority traffic signals” but I think we need to know more about this. The consultation ends on 25 May so we have time to make our concerns known. As well as doing that as individuals, it would be good if we could make a response from the Clarion collectively via Joyce, our Campaigns Organiser. Let her know what you think at edmondsmith@yahoo.co.uk

You can get details of the plans at www.brighton/hove.gov.ul/lewesroad and there are a number of exhibitions/information sessions including the following:

Friday 27 April, 10–4. Brighton University, Cockcroft Building, Moulsecoomb campus

Tuesday 1 May, 10–4. Brighton University, Sallis Benney Theatre, Grand Parade

Friday 11 May, 1–9. St Martins Church Hall (Wagner Hall), Lewes Road

Tuesday 15 May, 8–12. The Level (outside)

Ian


Future rides

26 April 2012

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

6 May* Ford circular (Leon & Joyce) – CANCELLED
20 May Lewes – Haywards Heath (Jim)
3 June Hayling Island revisited (Roger)
17 June ??? see Ian’s notes
1 July  TBC (Jim)
15 July*
29 July
12 August
26 August
9 September*
21 September*
7 October
21 October*
4 November
18 November
 2 December
16 December

*Ian not available as “back-stop”


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 108 ‘The Log of the Undine’ Part 3: Dieppe to Le Havre (second half)

26 April 2012

More extracts from the Bounder’s account which appeared in the Clarion, 31 August. Through September and into October 1895:

Half way to Havre we came to a place called Bolbec, where we had intended to bait; but –

It is a sort of small Sheffield, where they have foundries and factories … after the piercing clearness and glorious keenness of the tablelands it is like dropping into hell. Only more so.
It was Sunday morning when we rode through this dull, drab, smear, this frowsy, feculent fuliginosity.

So, 25 miles on in a ‘picturesque little village’

…they had tables and chairs brought out from the ‘Chasseurs des Lapins’ cabaret and we assimilated 47 litres of rum and milk.

Approaching Havre we ran into a lot of chaps who had been out all night. They had measured a distance of some three or four miles on the road, and were holding a long distance race, the competitors riding to and fro, each distance counting a lap. Poor devils, they were baked. Haggard, with straining eyeballs, and the perspiration baked upon them, they humped almost blindly along after their pacemakers … clothed in bright green, red, and yellow &c ‘as Jockeys‘.

And finally we came to the Havre End of the distance where we found quite a group of cyclists, with a bevy of the fair sex in rationals, grouped upon the wayside waiting for the verdict.

The Bounder then extolled the wearing of ‘rationals’ and expressed great disdain for the prudish attitudes of many English people. Then he turned to Le Havre itself.

Havre is a fine lively town, with the best system of electric tramways in France. Fine broad streets and magnificent public squares, and on this particular Sunday bands were in full blast, and all the inhabitants were out in the streaming sunshine. There is no churlish, sour-eyed Puritanism in France.

That was at the end of September. Rejoining the Ondine they proceeded up the Seine to Paris. On 5 October the Bounder reported reaching ‘the dream city of Rouen, The Capital of Chivalry and Romance’. At which point, since there’s no cycling interest any more, we will leave him. At least for the moment.

Next time: ‘The First of the Mohawk-Cans’. A London to Brighton ride before the British Heart Foundation was heard of.


The Next Ride (for stay-at-homes): 22 April 2012 – Chichester circular

17 April 2012

Centurion Way, Dell Quay, Salterns Way, and Chichester Canal

Just a short way up Centurion Way then off, initially, down the B2178 south to Fishbourne, a short stretch of the old main road and down to Dell Quay for lunch at the Crown and Anchor. Then the Salterns Way cycle route down to the Salterns Marina, over the swing bridge and back via the Chichester Canal, probably with time for a tea stop at the open-air café at the canal basin.

Catch the 10.17 from Brighton Station or meet at Chichester Station at 11.19. Best trains back seem to be the 15.53 or 16.28.

Ian


The Last Ride: Sunday 15 April 2012 – Polegate to Eridge

17 April 2012

Clarion polegate to Erith,top of the Cuckoo 002

This was one of Jim’s “Mix and Match” rides which meant that there could potentially be at least two ride reports – we shall see. In any event Roger, Suzanne, Nick (good to see him again), Leon, Sue, and Joyce met at Brighton station, to be joined by Ann and Mick at Lewes and Sean, Rob and Jim at Polegate – so we were now a happy band of 11, heading for the Cuckoo Trail.

Primrose

I have a special fondness for the Cuckoo Trail as being the first ever B&H Clarion ride; it is also, despite being linear and well known, always different. On this day, although the wind was chilly, the sun was faithful to the end and there was a medley of offerings to prove that spring really is here. From its early days the Cuckoo Trail has matured into a veritable haven for wild life. The Trail was an avenue of foamy white flowers with the blackthorn in full bloom. On the ground a tapestry of violets, primroses, lady’s smock (otherwise known as cuckoo flower); the wood covered with wood anemones (awaiting the bluebells, a few of which were just poking through).

Lesser celandine

There was Leon’s sighting of his first orange tip butterfly and, of course, the birds – a varied chorus of which I could identify very few but others were better at it – but not unfortunately the cuckoo (see below). And of course there were the ones we glimpsed as we sailed by: robins, blue-tits , dunnocks … Added to all that of course were the six sculptures – one particularly admired was the “Harvest” by Jenifer Ulrich.

The Cuckoo Trail. 15-04-2012

By the time we got to Horam interest turned to eating. We decided on Wesson’s cafe – a vast place frequented by bikers of whom many were in attendance. It had a great timeless atmosphere and the food was cheap and excellent. To be recommended. After a good lunch on we went to Heathfield and then came the decision – who was going to go the whole hog to Eridge and who only to the tunnel? Jim, Nick, Sean, Rob, Mick and Ann decided for Eridge; Suzanne, Roger and Sue to the tunnel; and Joyce and Leon back on to the Cuckoo Trail, aiming for the Loom where those not going to Eridge could catch up.

The Cuckmere at Hellingly

Leon and Joyce were soon joined by Sue and the discussion turned to why it was called the Cuckoo Trail – was it because of the Cuckmere river, or because the railway line was called the Cuckoo Line (and why was that)? I find it did indeed get its name from the Cuckoo Line, which in turn was named because of the tradition that the first cuckoo of spring was heard at the Heathfield Fair, so there are a lot of links with the Cuckoo – and even if we did not hear it the cuckoo does belong to the Cuckoo Trail.

Once ensconced with the comfort of tea and toasted tea cake at the Loom, Leon, Sue and Joyce were joined by Suzanne and Roger – and with some surprise by Ann and Mick. It turned out that by the time the tunnel had had its due attention Ann and Mick felt it too late to go on to Eridge – Suzanne kindly offered the following contribution on the tunnel:

“After ¾ mile (x 2!) we went through a fine Victorian tunnel and continued along the Cuckoo Trail until a sudden assembly of scaffolding poles and barbed wire – the legacy of a grumpy land-owner who decided that he was not going to allow the hoi-polloi to cross his precious land …”

April 15, 2012: Polegate to Eridge

On that, Wikipedia says that until 1986 East Sussex County Council had 11 miles to the south of Mayfield within its ownership – but parcels of land were sold off to raise funds (an example of short-sightedness if ever there was one …). This means that the Trail north cannot reach Groombridge and link with the Forest Way. Despite numerous reports seeking to find a way to connect with the Forest Way, the last one in 2006 concluded that reusing the old railway line would be best. So we can only hope.

After a very pleasant sojourn at the Loom we ambled off to get the train to Brighton. As to what happened to those going to Eridge – will anyone tell us?

The Barrier

Joyce

Fred writes: Well, I wimped out completely and took the 29 bus to Tunbridge Wells and spent the day going up and down the Spa Valley railway. Apparently Jim, Nick and Sean arrived at Eridge station just as my train was pulling out!

April 15, 2012: Polegate to Eridge

[Many more photos on Flickr]