The Next Ride: Sunday May 12th – Abrogam to Mutantsod

30 April 2013

A Wander Through Textland

As a frequent visitor to Barnham, it has always amused me that the first thing that the predictive text on my phone comes up with when I mention the place in a message is “Abrogam”. I actually like that – it sounds a bit Tolkienesque; much better than Barnham. And when I found out that “Mutantsod” is the first (and only) suggestion for “Nutbourne”, I simply couldn’t resist using those names in my title. I have used a little poetic licence though, as we are not actually going to Nutbourne (unless, that is, you opt for an “early bath”); we are going to Southbourne, further along the railway line, and sadly it does not have any interesting “text-speak” equivalent.

Yes, it’s a linear ride, starting off along the return route of my last Barnham (sorry, Abrogam) circular that we did last November, including the lovely Aldingbourne Country Centre, now as a morning coffee stop, and possibly incorporating a quick look at the animals there (but definitely no collecting alpaca poo please!)

This time, though, after Waterbeach we’ll turn westwards onto the Lavant Straight and skirt Goodwood Aerodrome; then at Lavant we’ll ride a very short section of the Centurion Way, leaving it as usual at the amphitheatre, but taking the lane north-westwards, instead of south to Fishbourne. We then encounter the lovely Wellies Restaurant at Oldwick Farm in West Stoke Road, where we will have lunch at about 1. I haven’t eaten there but the menu looks good, and the prices are similar to pub food. OK, they don’t do beer, but I’m sure we’ll manage.

After lunch there will be a tour of local villages, including most of: West Stoke, East Ashling, West Ashling, Funtington (“Eunuingumo” in text-speak) and Woodmancote (“Womencmamue”). The exact route will be finalised some time between now and then.

Finally back home via Southbourne (or Mutantsod if you want to lop a mile or so off).

Mileage: 20 miles

Duration: About 5½ hours including lunch and coffee stops

Terrain: Very flat. Quiet lanes, half a mile of Centurion Way, and the short bit of A285 we did last time. IF we have not had rain, I would like to try the delightful Tinwood Lane, a nice woodland path. The “off-road” bit of it is in the middle, between two concrete sections, so it is always a bit of a gamble as you have to go some way along it before you can tell if it is cyclable. There will be no suicidal crossings of the A27 – on the outward leg we will use the underpass as last time, and the approach to Southbourne features a bridge.

Start at Barnham Station at 10:50

Getting there: From Brighton: Here’s the tricky bit. Engineering works at Shoreham mean we cannot go by train direct and will have to leave at 09:10 and travel via Three Bridges, arriving at 10:41. It’s a longer journey than the normal 47 minutes, but ought not to cost any more than the direct route as it is not our choice to go that way. Bring a book! People living near Worthing may be able to get the 09:55 train direct from there, or the 10:09 changing at Littlehampton. Londoners can get the 09:02 from Victoria, direct to Barnham.

Return trains to Brighton at 15:08 or 16:08, again via Three Bridges, or 15:41 with an additional change at Gatwick. (The journey from Southbourne takes 2 hours). To Worthing at 15:41; to London at 15:08 or 16:08, or 15:41 changing at Barnham.

Remember – as they say on the electoral register forms – This Is Not A Circular. Motorists can take any of the abovementioned eastbound trains from Southbourne to Barnham to collect their cars.

Sorry about the long journeys. This ride has now been messed up by the railways twice (it was originally scheduled for 24 March) and on both occasions there have been inconsistencies on the National Rail Enquiries website which have meant the problems were not immediately detectable. (I suspect this is Southern’s fault, but can’t be sure). And since there were no other offers for this date, it’s this or staying at home!


P.S. Before you ask – yes, my mobile phone was made in Finland.

The Norfolk Weekend – Anne and Angela Report, with the odd interjection from Jim

30 April 2013

South Coast to North Coast; World Turned Upside Down.

“You poor take courage/You rich take care/This world was made an earthly paradise/For everyone to share” song of the Diggers

On Friday morning four groups set off from the South heading North to Norfolk; Fred & Jim came by four trains, Mick & Anne, like Helen & Angela drove, while David & Terri got stuck in huge jam on M11 where an overturned caravan made their trip last twice as long. Fred, Angela, Mick & I stayed at the B & B on the clifftop at Sheringham on the north Norfolk coast, Jim & Helen at the YHA & David & Terri half an hour’s drive away on a farm, but we all met up, eventually at The Robin Hood Pub, which, gradually, provided us all with an unexciting meal, after requests from Angela to turn down their music, bring Fred’s veg & her salad, which had been shown the menu. Helen, who had a headache after all the driving, went straight to bed & missed the meal, but it was no great loss. Jim pleads in their mitigation that the beer “draught Speckled Hen, [was] a lovely treat, and every bit as nice as the Woodforde’s at Hickling, I don’t care what Richard says!”

Dawn chorus woke us all at the B& B & Angela said she heard seals from the North Sea. Sunshine had brought out a huge bumble bee which buzzed in through our window, but, Joyce will be pleased to know that Mick was able to release it back to the sunshine outside. Sunshine was a rare treat to us sun-deprived cyclists, but the wind was still almost as keen as it had been for previous wintry months. We all ate too hearty breakfasts & set out for the station to meet Helen. We had the usual dilemma as to whether to buy the groupsave, but the train guard recommended 4 on groupsave & 1 [nominate Helen, as she’d had her railcard for almost a year & not had chance to use it yet, plus hadn’t been able to cycle much recently], for the senior railcard ticket. No bother with the bikes as 2-carriage train had large space for all our bikes, though the 2 or 3 that got on later had to alight to set us free at Wroxham, then train nearly left 1 on platform as it headed on to Norwich!

At the station we met up with Jim, who’d taken an earlier train in order to save space for our bikes & to meet the others:- Amanda, looking peaky having caught 7.30am train from London & been nursing nasty cough all week, Angela’s cousin Richard, who’d driven the 60 miles from Bury St Edmunds, & David & Terri [who’d got lost in the narrow, dark lanes of deepest Norfolk when returning from the pub last night], with Zola their dog, cue banter on whether homage to Emile, Budd, or Gian Franco. Terri kindly took the group-shot while Zola obediently sat down rather than tying Terri up in knots with her lead.

At Wroxham

We set off eastward into the customary headwind.

First stop was  Horning & the River Bure, where we saw a paddle steamer & wide variety of ducks & geese among the grass & rushes, some declared to be Egyptian geese, far from home. Some of us were tempted by a leisurely hour and half boat trip but that was not in the plan, so we cycled on with the hope of a coffee stop to warm the cockles of some who had mistakenly dressed for summer, or, at least, Spring. However, sun shone & we pootled over little bridges & dallied along leafless lanes. [Sorry – lack of coffee stop was due to my new high-tech ride planning procedure using a spreadsheet, which erroneously showed us 15 minutes behind schedule at Horning when in fact we were 15 minutes ahead! Just teething troubles I hope – Jim]

Egyptian Geese with reflections.

Egyptian geese, paddleboat, Clarion crowd & interloping family at Wroxham & Hoveton Broad.

As I turned right at a crossroads, the awaiting group of front-runners asked if I’d seen the giraffe? Giraffe! … in Norfolk? Eventually noticed huge [well-life-size] “giraffe” in the window of the nearby bungalow. Various deviant explanations were offered as to why & what it was. Hope there is a pic to prove it, but no time for me to photo, nor for coffee, though Hickling Broad & our pre-booked lunch-stop soon arrived. We were all quite chilly by then, in spite of the sunshine, but half of us elected to sit outside & half inside. The insiders waited ages for food & got even colder & the outsiders had watery views but chilly legs, though food was pretty good, when it eventually arrived altogether.

Safety drill

By then, most of us were cold & giving up on the idea of going boating, but some of us cycled round to the boatyard to investigate. Couldn’t see any of the promised canoes, as they were deemed to be too slow & cold for the unseasonal weather & motorboats were the only option. Most of us were daunted by the option of steering the vessels but Mick volunteered to be captain of the 6-seater. Angela then excitedly hailed David & Helen back over to the boatyard, so then we had to take another boat & go 4 by 4 – Jim steering Clarion Boat #2. Mick, with little experience of boats, but careful instructions from the boatman, attempted to leave the harbour, but bumped into the moored craft lining the entrance, to hysterical giggles from me & Helen , while experienced cox, Fred, attempted to keep the boat steady.

The other boat

Once out in the main channel Mick put his foot down, as is his wont, & we left the left Clarion #2 boat way behind, as we headed off to the far reaches of the broad. Turning round proved OK, in spite of the crew’s trepidation, & as we headed back to harbour we thought we saw Clarion #2 approaching us, so Mick veered towards them so we could take some close-up shots of each other! But, it was not to be! They were not Clarion #2, who had disappeared completely, but innocent tourists who must have been alarmed to see us heading towards them, in spite of the boatman’s instructions to avoid other craft on the water. Didn’t see [m]any birds, probably too cold for much duck dabbling, but did see some modern windmills & some ancient looking reed-thatched lake-dwellings. Crew of Clarion #2 was waiting for us on the dock & told us we had over-run our time & had been going much faster than recommended, but it was all lies, Mick assured us & nimbly docked the boat, a feat which Clarion #2 had not achieved without the boatman’s assistance.

Amanda & Fred by the gates to the tallest windmill in Britain.

Decided to give St Benet’s Abbey a miss in the morning, as Jim said not worth the effort, but continued to next highlight Sutton Mill – “tallest windmill in Britain”; Photo op all round & intriguing huge nest in nearby tree; who would live in a nest like that?

Huge nest in tree near windmill;stork?

Shortly afterwards Angela spotted even more unusual sight – 3 large camels in a farm barn with lots of notices about trespassers being prosecuted & awful sound of irate guard-dogs threatening to get stuck in to tasty Clarion interlopers. Did the camels give rides on the sandy beaches of North Norfolk in the summer? Were they some Arab sheik’s favoured pets? My Norfolk cousins later told me that there were camel races in Fakenham, so maybe there are camels all over Norfolk ensconced in farm barns, just waiting for the racing season to start when [?] the weather warms up a bit. They do things differently up North.


We were all flagging a bit on the last little hill into North Walsham for the train home to Sheringham & worried by the groupsave ticket as the ticket-holder [Fred had assumed the position of responsible adult] had dismounted to push & lagged behind, but we were an hour up on Jim’s schedule. However, this was to bring its own worries as platform was crowded & we were told the 6ish train was the football special from Norwich with no bike space & crammed with footie fans. Most of them seemed to get out at North Walsham & fortunately, we were all able to entrain, apart from Richard who was cycling back to his car at Wroxham. All tired & split up, undecided where to eat, but, eventually all met up at The Lobster & had excellent local fishy food, mussels, crab & all delighted & refreshed. Biked back to B & B in time to watch the latest Nordic Noir on BBC4 in bed.

5 of us for breakfast at the B&B on Sunday as Amanda stayed there too, but she was looking very poorly again & vowing to go straight back home on the train. Breakfast perked her up & she decided to give it a go on the steam railway with Fred & Angela etc. Mick & I zoomed down to the station for the early rendez-vous with Jim. We waited nearly half an hour for Cambridge Clarion to join us, but had to give up on them in order to meet the steam-fanciers at Holt when their train arrived. Jim did try hard to contact them & enlisted Sally’s help at home. She was busy making her placard for [or rather against], the EDL march in Brighton, where, it turned out the fascists were outnumbered by the anti-fascists by, at least 5 to 1, & police were expensively brought in from all over the south to protect the nasty EDL

Sheringham Park was beautiful, undulating track, first paved then footpaths, with views to the sea to the North – upside down & anti-intuitive to me. Highlight was the Gazebo, with nearly 200 steps up to the top of the viewing platform, among the huge, old rhododendron bushes – very Himalayan for level Norfolk. Photos were taken from the top of the tower before we raced down again to check our bikes were still there.

DSC00799 - Copy

Mick & Jim above Sheringham Park

Met several walkers but no other cyclists, as we were mainly on narrow, dry footpaths. We emerged from the park by a mid-way station on the steam railway, to a field of about 30 ponies – all with their winter coats on, wisely. Over the railway bridge we looked down to the pub garden beneath & saw a strange, blue papier-mache effigy, such as Lewes use for the bonfire guys. As it was lying on its back with high heeled legs in the air & had a large, distinctive nose, plus a blue cone “hat” by its side I believe it was a Maggie Thatcher image for a “Ding, dong the witch is dead” party to parody the elaborate £10m funeral service “given” by a grateful Tory party government to celebrate Thatcherism & the recent death of their icon.

Ding, dong, the witch is dead, which leapt up the charts to #2 this week, though Radio 2 wouldn't play it!Thatcher effigy.

Leaving the bridge & entering the village, a sign in Norfolk “Slow You Down” which was wasted on me as I had to catch up with Jim & Mick. A long hill slowed me down even more, but was encouraged up both by descending “lycra” cyclists who assured me I was almost at the top & by Jim, who dallied to see if I was OK & took a pic. Mick raced on to Holt where we all three had to halt as we’d beaten those on the train by 15 minutes at least. We awaited their arrival in sunshine seated outside an interesting café with accolades from 2005 proclaiming its foodie credentials, ordering choc flapjacks, tea, coffees & apricot & almond cake. Still no sign of Cambridge Clarion, but we were all enchanted with the cafe, its idiosyncratic architecture & sculptures & the sunny, sheltered spot.

Had to leave to cycle on to Cley [pronounced locally as Clei, German hard i] admired from other side of the road the pottery shop & the ‘local food’ grocers & smokery. Passed The George Pub, which was deemed too gourmet for today but Mick & I sampled it the following day with my cousin & loved our dishes of pigeon breasts & lentils or mixed meat plates, from interesting menu. Went to the coast, which popped up disconcerting in the North with miles of wind-swept sand dunes & reedbeds. Turned up Old Womans Lane & stopped for photos of a frivolous nature.

Not-so-old women

Lunch at the Three Swallows, Newgate Green

Tackled a few more small hills, then swept down to Newgate with its huge church & village Green, but not much else, apart from The Three Swallows pub where we sat in the garden & chose our food. Today local crab was on the menu, having been told the night before that all local crabs were still buried under the sand as it was too cold to emerge & be caught in the traps. Were told that waiting time for food was 40 minutes, but, in fact, good grub appeared in record time, so maybe it was a Norfolk joke, similar to the sign for the toilet.

Sign at the Three Swallows

On the way back up the hill I noticed a sculpture of 3 swallows, but it was camouflaged by the blossom on the bushes & didn’t like to pry too long. Further up the hill was a garden decorated with gargoyles which was asking to be snapped so we did.

garden gargoyles

Didn’t see any deer on Salthouse Heath, nor signs of Spring among the leafless trees. At crossroads we bade goodbye to Amanda & Fred, who were taking the steam train back to Sheringham, while the rest of us risked the extra miles & hills on the bikes. At Sheringham, Mick & I cycled off back to the B&B to reclaim the car & head South again to Tuttington & my cousin, while the others decided on the evening meal for the final night, though Amanda had the long trek back that day to London for work on Monday.

As on our Clarion rides, so on the way out of Norfolk in Norwich, we saw loads of Labour placards up in gardens & just 1 or 2 UKIP – no Tories, so hope they have a real pasting in forthcoming local elections & that this vile government has nasty shock, turning their world upside down – as Leon Rosselson sung in his Diggers tribute to heroes of our past.

Report by Angela on the steam train ride from Sheringham to Holt.
On our second day Fred, Helen, David, Amanda and I gathered at Sheringham station for a steam train journey to Holt, the beginning of the next ride. Jim, Mick and Anne had already set off by bike from Sheringham and we were to meet them at Holt.

Byfords cafe at Holt

The station at Sheringham reminds me of my childhood. The colours of the paintwork are very 1950’s green and cream and the platform has trolleys full of old suitcases and trunks similar to those which my mum used to pack with clothes and swimming stuff for our annual holiday.

The steam train was already waiting for us to board. Fred, along with other steam enthusiasts, went to survey the little puffing engine at the end of the platform and to take pictures. Then, having put our bikes in the guard’s van, we settled down on the very comfy seats. We noticed that a rather strange thing was happening on the opposite platform – a boy of about 10 years was standing very still holding a blue balloon and a man was standing further down the platform, dressed like a character out of ‘Foyle’s War’, complete with a pipe in his mouth. Evidently they were making some kind of retro movie.

Retro firewoman

Anyway, off the little train puffed and I took the opportunity to lean out of the window to get a better view of the engine as it went round bends in the track. Then I remembered doing that on train journeys when I was a child and getting a piece of grit in my eyes. So I thought better of it and decided to go back to the carriage whereupon Fred and David starting laughing at me! They said that my hair and face were all black from the soot from leaning out the window. Helen and Amanda joined in laughing and for a few seconds I was really taken in.
The journey continued through the absolutely beautiful Norfolk countryside which, like most of Sussex, seemed very behind in terms of the signs of spring. Nevertheless, the lack of leaves on the huge oaks and sycamores meant that you could get wonderful views through them across the landscape.  The sun was shining and it really was the beginning of a very lovely day.
Amanda and Fred departing for Holt

Many thanks to Jim for super Spring cycle excursions with loads of fun & fellowship, loads of very fresh air & the most healthy exercise many of us could manage [even when we weren’t sure we could!]. He had all the preparation & reconnoitring to do in foul weather & kept us all safely together as we enjoyed all the pleasures, treasures & surprises of North Norfolk.

Lots more pics on flickr.

Anne and Angela

The (other) Last Ride: Sunday 21 April – Steyning

30 April 2013

Ten of us met Jenny outside Marocco’s cafe on the seafront in Hove on a beautiful sunny morning. Rob, and another new member also called Rob, Ian, Joyce, Corinne, Sikka, Pauline, John, Annie and Julia. It was such a nice day, some of us had come unprepared for the cold breeze and were slightly under-dressed! However, once we moved inland we lost the sea breeze and warmed up.

Group shot

Just outside Carats cafe we were joined by Linda who had cycled from Lancing. Then we had to wait until the lock gates were closed and we could cross over. Pedestrians with pushchairs, other walkers and cyclists, were out in force, more than I had ever seen there before.

Jenny then led us safely through the backstreets of Southwick and Shoreham, introducing to us Clarionettes some of the care and discipline that she experiences on her ‘night rides’. She took great care to ensure no-one was ever left behind or disappeared out of sight ahead. The pace was very steady with suitable stops for those at the back who might need to catch their breath at the top of a hill. Yes, I said ‘hill’! We took the Coombe Road route after the Old Toll Bridge in Shoreham, and persevered all the way up the various hills into Steyning. There stopping at the first pub, The White Horse, as it had an attractive outside dining area. So we actually ate out of doors!

Ian at lunch

The food and service were excellent, it was possible to have bar snacks as well as a full restaurant menu. Rob offered bike adjustments during lunch and we discovered that he had managed to escape the wonderful winter we just had by spending it WOOFing in New Zealand and Australia. (For details you can see his blog on

Bob Doe's dad's Clarion badge

I wasn’t party to the discussions over lunch but Julia, for whom this was her second Clarion ride, told me she is delighted by the quality of conversation and the fact that members deal with important social/political issues. One thing I did pick up from Joyce was that St Botolphs is to be renovated, being the oldest church in Sussex, and thus an important tourist resource.


After lunch we cycled off down the first stretch of the Downslink. Just before St Botolphs Church, Jenny assembled us and offered us the choice of continuing off road or taking the tarmac option and cycling back along Coombe Road directly to the airport. Joyce decided to take the flat route via the Downslink accompanied by Ian while the rest of us chose tarmac. Imagine our surprise when Joyce and Ian arrived at the airport for afternoon tea before us!

Lovely cakes, warm lounge, good coffee. Then Ian led us back to the Toll Bridge by a short-cut he knew and we took another route through the back streets of Shoreham across the locks (even more people there this time!) and a straight run along the cycle track into Hove, waving a grateful goodbye to Jenny at the Lagoon as she peeled off to make her way home.

Linda had already left to return to Lancing and the rest of us gradually left until there was just Ian and myself threading our way through slow-moving traffic along the London and Lewes Roads.

Thank you Jenny for a lovely, gently paced ride and for the great care you took of us all.


Cycling at the Scarborough Easter Meet 2013 – Bob reports

30 April 2013

Saturday had mountain-biking for Juniors (and not-so-juniors, too) with the Yorkshire Coast Clarion 10 mile Time Trial in the afternoon.

On a rolling course and a blustery day, there were 35 starters and 33 completed. One DNF (did not finish) was Martin Perfect of the London Clarion. We can only assume that his enormous effort, of riding from Tunbridge Wells over 4 days in bitterly cold winds for a solo effort to win the cup for the highest mileage ridden by a team to the Meet, meant a temporary drop in navigation skills and he went off course.

A young Yorkshire rider, Joel Wainman of Team Swift, won with a time of 22 minutes 40 seconds; a team mate was second and the best Clarion ride was the third place of Matt Ball, West Lothian Clarion, with 24.08. Best woman’s ride was from Andrea Vaughan, Yorkshire Coast Clarion, in 31.00. Two riders managed 29.59 to avoid the ‘over-half-an-hour’ tag! The final finisher took 35.59.

Sunday saw about 50 riders set off, after photographs on th cliff-top, for a 30 mile or 60 mile randonee. Bob stayed with the longer distance, rapidly recognising his shortcomings on the hills! Flamborough Head lighthouse cafe was the first control and scoff, before heading into the empty Wolds. The Star Inn at Weaverthorpe, second control, was a welcome haven from the biting wind. Whilst faster riders were back by 3.00pm, to view the Tour of Flanders in the Cask Inn, Scarborough, the temptations of The Star held a small but select group for more than an hour. They enjoyed watching the hail and ordering further food and drink.

It was a wrench leaving The Star, but with 15 miles still to ride to Scarborough and no mobile signal to plead with loved ones for assistance, it was out into the spitting late afternoon. One rider, reputed to be of Brighton & Hove Clarion, lagged badly behind; Greystone Small, the day’s organiser, ignored the B&H rider’s demands that he press for home and instead patiently shepherded him back to the hotel.

A real Johnny Helms day! (the cartoonist in ‘The Comic’ for more than 50 years; despite the minor inconvenience of death he still has a regular spot on the final page of Cycling Weekly).


Brian Hutton article: Boots and Spurs Autumn 2004

30 April 2013





Brian Hutton





30 April 2013

30 April 2013
Dear fellow members and friends


Brian Hutton

It is very sad to record the death of Brian Hutton, our one member who was also in the old Brighton section back in the late 1940s and 1950s. Not many people will remember Brian; who was born in 1932. He was unable to ride any longer so we never saw him on rides though he and Mary did come to some of our “Socials”. Sadly, he was too ill to attend the last one we had before Christmas.

But Brian did contribute more then most, nonetheless. If you go to our blog, click on “previous website”, then “history” and then scroll down you’ll find great pieces by Brian – full of humour and of insights into the cycling past –

“The Glory Days of Sussex Track Cycling” (with photo) “The Old Brighton Section” – which includes pieces on the Old Toll Bridge at Shoreham, and “cycling cafes” in Sussex in the ‘50s and “Robbed” about his experienced in an Isle of Wight race.

And his account of the rivalry between the (conservative) National Cyclists’ Union and the (“revolutionary” British League of Racing Cyclists under the title “The Early Days of Road Racing” in Boots and Spurs, Autumn 2004 was a wonderful read – you can see it here.

Here is just one little gem from the piece:-

I knew nothing of cycling politics then but the Brighton Clarion was a National Cyclists Union club, although most of its members adopted the British League of Racing Cyclists’ dress code and wore berets, sunglasses and trousers elasticated just below the knee. A string of onions around the neck would have completed the fetching ensemble! By contrast the NCU riders wore plus fours, woollen sweaters and carried their kit in large saddlebags falling over the back wheel. I remember the late Alan Packett of the Brighton Mitre producing a spare chainwheel from his saddlebag one evening when he had chain trouble!

Later in the piece Brian describes his unexpected victory in the 1952 BLRC (Sussex) road race championship and then outlines his subsequent involvement with cycling racing.. Here’s just the main bits:-

In 1953 I won the “Sussex Roadman Trophy” held on a league basis and I finished second in the Southern BLRC championship road race. The winner was Brighton Velo’s Derek Cover, who like me had started cycling as a Brighton Clarion member.

He had more success in 1954 and then:-

I went on to enjoy my racing for another six years… When I retired from racing in 1960 I stayed in the sport as a freelance reporter for several national magazines and local newspapers.

Some of us will have seen his Argus reports in recent years.

Yesterday, Sue and I attended his funeral in Worthing. Brian’s trophies and some photos from his racing days were laid out by the coffin. The tag on our club’s flowers read, “With deepest sympathy from fellow members of the Brighton and Hove Cycling Club” and his Clarion membership was mentioned by the celebrant. There were several people there from other cycling clubs that Brian had been associated with over the years – Brighton Excelsior, Brighton Mitre, Worthing Excelsior, and Lewes Wanderers.

Brian will be missed – and long remembered.

* * *

Recently, Cycling Weekly had a feature on what it called “The 48 Rules of Cycling.” Many were about aspects really only important to people starting racing – a largish segment of the journal’s readership. But some apply to us all; obvious things like checking brakes and tyres regularly, braking in a straight line rather than when cornering, changing down to a lower gear in good time on hills, drinking plenty of water to keep well hydrated, keeping your knees warm in cold weather, always wearing gloves (or mitts when warm enough) and always wearing a helmet. All sound advice.

There are so many things that can go wrong on a bike and you can’t realistically plan for them all. I always bring a boxed tool-kit which weighs a ton (and a first aid kit) on the rare occasions nowadays when I lead a ride – but that’s not something everyone who participates is going to do. But we all know that the most common problem is punctures. So everyone should make sure they have with them a pump that fits their valves (not all do), a spare innertube of the right size, and a set of tyre levers to carry out the change. You can’t rely on other people having exactly the things you need – they may not have the right size tube or a pump that fits your valves.

Talking of making cycling safer, if you’re a CTC member you’ll have had an email from Jon Snow (in his capacity as CTC president rather than Channel Four News presenter) But if you’re not it’s certainly something you should know about – and help with

aim for 10% of trips by bike by 2025 and 25% by 2050, and
£10 per person, per year in funding for cycling

Those are the headlines of today’s Get Britain Cycling report, published by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.
Now we need the Prime Minister to respond.
Together with the Times, Sustrans, the AA and British Cycling, CTC is urging members to sign up to a joint petition on the Number 10 website, calling for the Government to implement the recommendations.
In particular, the report calls for £10 per person, per year, to support a radical transformation of streets and roads, as well as training, promotion and marketing to shift the culture on our roads.
I gave evidence to the inquiry in March, arguing that Government needed to do far, far more to improve conditions for cyclists. This is the opportunity to start making the changes necessary.
Please do take a couple of minutes to sign up on the Number 10 site.

Also from the CTC.

Many drivers are confused about the law, believing that cyclists should pay ‘Road Tax’. Of course, most of us know that there is no such thing as ‘Road Tax’, which was abolished in 1937 in favour of an Vehicle Excise Duty, a tax on vehicles that does not include cycles. The road network is actually paid for by general taxation. Since 2010, cyclists have been wearing an iPayRoadTax jersey to try to set the record straight. Now your bike can show its support too: the iPayRoadTax roundel is a miniature ‘tax disc’ headset cap that shows you have paid the ‘Bicycle Excise Duty’ of £0. It can also be customised with your own message.

With the Festival almost upon us here’s the usual invitation from Tessa:

We welcome you again to our Open House during May (38 Lorna Road, Hove, BN3 3EN), showing  an exciting  lineup of ten artists. We are open for the 4 weekends of the  Festival, and 2 Bank Holiday Mondays.

And Fred tells me that he’ll have prints and “vintage oil paintings “ on sale at 17 Clyde Road – round the corner from the Dragonfly house – on Sundays only.

Last time we had a great report from Fred on every aspect of the Easter Meet – except the bits that actually involved getting on a bike. This time Bob completes the picture (report below) Bob is on a CTC week riding every day in the Sierra Aitlana mountains. He’s promised to try and send us a photo featuring a spectacular descent – and Bob in his Clarion jersey.

* * *
Anyone tempted to think that today’s Clarion – national and local – has somehow departed from, or even betrayed, the Club’s founding principles should consider very carefully the instalment of “The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s” at the end of this newsletter.

* * *

Thanks to Helen and Roger our ride dates are now covered up to 9 June. Any offers for 23 June or beyond?


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 132. Swiftsure objects to the Clarion CCs being “turned into another semi-political organisation” and the debate on a second Easter Meet continues

30 April 2013

One frequently gets the impression that the early Clarion Cycling Clubs and everyone involved in them spent much of their time on rides shouting slogans, sticking up posters, and holding impromptu meetings in the villages they passed through. Such things did happen. But not everyone – especially everyone at the Clarion itself – approved of such an approach. You may recall that back in “episode 68” (see previous website) we had Blatchford himself in the Clarion 1 June 1895 cautioning that:-

I see that the Candid One in the Scout, approves of the fashion of sticking Socialist labels on things.

I must say that I don’t like the idea and never did. If I saw any kind of labels – Socialist, religious or what not – stuck on the rocks and trees, I am sure I should not be pleased.

And here is “Swiftsure” in his “Cycling Notes” of 18 January 1896 in a similar vein

The Nottingham C.C.C send me word that owing to the Annual conference of the I.L.P.being held at Nottingham next Easter, they wish to suggest that the annual meet of the Clarion Clubs shall be held in their town. 

I don’t know what the various clubs will think of the suggestion, but, personally, although I am a member of the I.L.P. I should oppose it. The situation is excellent, no doubt but I object to the C.C.Ss being turned into another semi-political organisation. We might as well form Clarion cricket, football, or golf clubs, and endeavour to make those mediums for militant Socialist propaganda. Even on the grounds of tactics for the propagation of Socialism  I question the benefit of meeting at Nottingham. However, it is not for me to say what shall be done, but for  the clubs.

The Southern Federation of Scouts write suggesting two meetings, one in the South, say at Oxford, and one in the North at Whitsuntide, when the same agenda could be discussed at both meetings.

There is something to be said for such a proposal. I think it would be well now if the National Committee were to step in and let us know what they think of the proposals already made. After all,the decision of affairs and arrangements must be left in their hands, and I haven’t the least desire to abrogate their duties.

Next time: A message from “The Gaunt One”

The Next Rides: 20 & 21 April 2013, Norfolk Weekend; and Sunday 21 April: Hove to Steyning and back

8 April 2013

Norfolk Weekend: 20 & 21 April 2013

There will be two rides – one each day.

Saturday: Norfolk Broads Nearly Circular – Wroxham to North Walsham via Ludham

Bridge Broad, Wroxham

This ride consists mainly of sections cobbled together from the booklet The Broads by Bike.

We will meet at Wroxham station (45 minutes from Sheringham by train) and ride eastwards to Ludham via Horning, then turn north to Hickling Broad, where we will have lunch at the misleadingly-named Pleasure Boat Inn (misleading because Hickling is a quiet Broad; most of the “pleasure boats” are at Wroxham). After lunch there will hopefully be a chance of a splash about in a boat (that’s the canoe/rowing boat variety) if the boatyard is open; then westwards to North Walsham (25 minutes from Sheringham by train) via Stalham. We can stop for coffee in Horning and tea in Stalham if desired.

On the way we may wish to make a detour (about 2 miles there and back) to look at St Benet’s Abbey, which the booklet says is “the only monastery in Britain which survived the dissolution”. However I am not sure how much of it there is, and have not seen it myself.

On the way back, we will go past Sutton Mill, said to be Britain’s tallest windmill, though sadly in some disarray nowadays and apparently no longer open to the public.

Length: about 25 miles.

Terrain: Very flat – the only undulations are on the way back; although the Weaver’s Way, a former railway line, offers a straight and level route to North Walsham, it is not up to Cuckoo Trail standards – it is rather bumpy and stony, and also seemingly perpetually muddy at one point, so on the practice I used mainly country lanes, which do “undulate” a bit, but do not tend to go above 20m asl.

Traffic: Mainly quiet lanes; about a mile of the A1062, which is apparently a “rural route” (whatever that means!)

GazeboSutton Mill

left: Gazebo in Sheringham Park; right: Sutton Mill

Sunday: Sheringham Circular via Weybourne, Holt, Wiveton, Cley, Newgate, Salthouse Heath and West Beckham

This ride has been designed partly around the stated desires of some among our number to travel on the North Norfolk Railway, a heritage steam railway from Sheringham to Holt. So there are three options: (1) ride all the way (25 miles); (2) train to Holt and ride back (18 miles); (3) train to Holt and back (13 miles). The “steam-fanciers” and “Beechingites” will rendezvous at a café in Holt, then we will all ride to the pretty coastal village of Cley next the Sea, where, as well as being able to buy expensive pottery, we can look at some exotic ducks and view the RSPB nature reserve. (The coast path is too bumpy and also probably too windy.) Then back inland to the Three Swallows pub at Newgate Green, where there is a nice ginger cat as well as good food and beer; and then across the lovely Salthouse Heath where we may see deer, and back to Sheringham, waving goodbye en route to anyone wanting a further railway fix.

Cley next the Sea

On the outgoing journey the “locophobes” (I made that up – there doesn’t seem to be a Latin word for train, I wonder why?) can look at the Gazebo in Sheringham Park, which is nothing like the sort people have in their gardens but in fact is a multi-level wooden viewing platform built on top of a mound, with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and coastline. (We don’t have to ride up the mound – bikes can be left at the bottom and there are steps up to the gazebo.)

Length: See above for options.

Terrain: There is a short off-road section in Sheringham Park which was fine when I tried it recently, but muddy on the previous occasion. If it is muddy, we will avoid it. Apart from that we will stick to quiet lanes; we have to use the A149 to get through Cley, but because of all the twists and turns it is impossible for cars to get above about 10 mph there so we will be safe. There is one real hill – Holgate Hill, which the “oily brigade” will avoid as it is between Sheringham and Holt; it has a maximum gradient of about 1 in 12, and so is cyclable, but probably a pushing job for most.

The Three Swallows (with cat)

A Note on Mileages

These mileages may look formidable to some – even if you take the shorter options on Sunday – but do please remember that we will have much more time available than usual (at least 9 hours of daylight each day) and so can stop more often and take our time. And if anyone does get stranded and unable to finish, we will have people with cars who may be able to “rescue” them.

Who is going?

So far I have eight Brighton & Hove Clarion people on my list plus one from Cambridge Clarion and one from Suffolk CTC; there may be other “fellow-travellers” too.

If you want to come but have not yet informed me, do it now! Email me at j.r.grozier (at) And sort out your accommodation, of course – participants are asked to do this themselves as there is no group booking of accommodation.

Hoping to see you in Norfolk!


Sunday 21 April: A little ride for those not going to Norfolk. Hove to Steyning and back

Not everyone is going to Norfolk for the annual B&H Clarion weekend bonanza, so for those who might be missing their cycling that weekend I offer a little potter out to Steyning and back via the Shoreham Toll Bridge and the Coombes road. The technical organisation of this ride is almost non-existent, because I’m lazy and anyway I have no idea how many, if any, will want to come. So we’ll make it up as we go along, what fun.

Meet outside Marocco’s at 10.30 am. Ride past Carat’s (unless people feel like stopping for coffee), over the lock gates and along to Shoreham on the back streets. Over the toll bridge and up the Coombes road to Steyning – it’s about 10 miles, and the pace can be as leisurely as people wish it to be.

In Steyning there are cafes and pubs galore, so I’m sure we’ll find somewhere to have lunch. Then we can potter back the way we came, with a tea stop at Shoreham Airport café if anyone fancies it. Bail-out point at Shoreham station if needed, otherwise we’ll just retrace our route to the start.

Meet: 10.30 am outside Marocco’s on the seafront in Hove. I will be there anyway (unless the weather is absolutely atrocious), so just turn up. We’ll wait, oh, until 10.35 for latecomers! The route is so well known that I’m sure we’ll be easy to catch.
Total distance: 20 miles, mostly completely flat with a couple of little undulations that we’ve all done many times before.
Trains: Not needed for most people, but they are of course available at various stations as always.

Contact: Jenny, 07527 119736


The Last Ride: Sunday 7 April 2013 – CATS MALIGNED AT DELL QUAY

8 April 2013

Group photo

On this Sunday’s ride, cat herds were unfairly defamed when being compared with an anarchic group of Brighton & Hove Clarion Cyclists. Legal action is being contemplated. The club’s officers are considering making an emergency call to Paolo Di Canio to lead the next ride. The guilty cyclists should be named and shamed, they were duelling duo Jim and Angela, several who went under assumed names Fred aka Alan, Mal aka Marilyn, others whose mug shots have previously appeared on these pages, Joyce, Corinne, Anne, Nick, David, Julian, Anne, Jenny, Linda, Mick and their leader Ian, as well as newcomer Julia who, extraordinarily, later claimed to have enjoyed the experience.

It was an unpropitious start. Four who had arrived early or by other means watched as the 11.25 train from Brighton arrived and departed. Five minutes later no cyclists had appeared outside the station and the impatient four departed for the north side of the station in search of Ian who also came by car. Meanwhile the 10 who had been on the train had finally managed to get off and along the platform and were met by Ian who thereupon phoned the pub to advise that there would be 10 cyclists arriving (counting beyond the digits on 2 hands not being a strong point of the assembled company).

Ian immediately explained the need to set a good pace in order to arrive at the Crown & Anchor by the appointed time of 12.30. He found a backmarker (who it was reported had promptly forgotten his allotted role) and set off up the Centurion Way at a steady pace. At the end of the short ride up the Centurion Way the four riders at the front looked back to find only Anne in sight. It later turned out that Corinne had a problem with her tyre and David had left his bag at the station and had returned there to look for it. After some time the group set off again.

April 7, 2013: Centurion Way, Dell Quay, Salterns Way & Chichester Canal

There were, or so it seemed, only 11 waiting at the next gathering point. Nick, who had been photographing farmyard animals, eventually arrived to make it 12. He thought we had set out with 16. At this point Mick noticed that David was not there and without any further consultation cycled back the way we had come to look for him. Unsurprisingly he was not to be found. The rest made their way on the planned route.

We arrived at the Crown & Anchor to find David already there having found his bag had not been blown up by security and having cycled the direct way to Dell Quay was the only person to arrive on time.


Lunch was peppered, inter alia, by discussion of the usefulness of Latin, the NHS demo the day before, the Norfolk trip and Steiner School mums re-united. The Crown & Anchor is set in a magnificent position and for the first time this year it was just about warm enough for some to sit outside.

After lunch, the company drifted up the road while Ian made adjustments to his bike. Alas they drifted too far and Mick was despatched to bring them back to the righteous road along the Saltern’s Way. At this point Ian took firm control and imposed Mick as backmarker with strict instructions that there was to be no more getting ahead of the leader, forgotten bags, slow punctures or unnecessary photography of common or garden objects or creatures. This latter injunction was shortly to be ignored on the discovery of swans, with a nest, with eggs, in springtime.

April 7, 2013: Centurion Way, Dell Quay, Salterns Way & Chichester Canal

Eventually we made our way to the end of the canal to find that the ramshackle hut serving tea and cakes had been replaced by a splendid new building but still staffed by volunteers (one of whom had done a 48 mile ride that morning) serving delicious homemade cake at 60p a slice.

New cafe at Canal Basin

All were a agreed that it had been a super ride and that all things considered a spot of anarchy on a 13 mile ride was no bad thing unless of course you happen to be our long-suffering but dearly-loved leader.


Lot more photos on Flickr

Cycling the Elbe Way and in Prague and Berlin

8 April 2013

Unfortunately throughout our trip Anne had an awful chesty cough and bearing in mind that temperatures were generally below zero with a biting wind and snow cycling was not the joint nor pleasurable enterprise we had intended.

Prague is not the most cycle-friendly city. In fact there are scarcely any cyclists around, certainly not when we were I saw no more than 1 or 2 a day but there was that bitter wind and freezing temperatures. Those few cyclists I saw were part of the fraternity and seemed up for the challenge. It was not for the faint-hearted.

I did, however, enjoy the ride from our hotel 2-3 miles from the city centre, along the bank of the Vltava River mainly on a cycle path, sometimes shared with pedestrians, but as it neared the city centre it petered out and after that, one was competing with cars in narrow lanes and sometimes with trams too. Worst of all were the cobbles, which cover most of the streets in the old town. It is a wonder I have any teeth left.

It was significant that there were no cycle racks to be found even near modern, public buildings with plenty of available space. Despite everything the bike was still a great way to get about from one sight to another and simply as a way of exploring a city.

Saxon Switzerland
Our original plan had been to take the train from Bad Schandau to Dresden with the bikes, sightsee in the morning and then ride back he 42 kms on the Elbe Way, admiring the remarkable sandstone formations of Saxon Switzerland on the way.

Instead I set off from Bad Schandau heading north in the direction of Dresden. For the most part the Elbe Way follows the bank of the river with occasional short climbs through the forest. On the way I passed a youth hostel with a splendid modernist mural of jazz players on the wall but also a memorial stone recording the misuse of the hostel for some months in 1933 as a concentration camp following the murder of a nazi general nearby. Incidentally having now visited both Hiroshima and Dresden I think we should let the Germans and Japanese worry about their misdeeds during the war and ponder a bit more about our own.

I made my way north as the river wound its way with the frozen forest on the left bank and then the Konigstein Castle towering above, on the right bank the sandstone pillars emerging from the forest. Finally after about 7 miles I could go no further as the path became impassable because of the snow.

I turned back to Bad Schandau and carried on to the Czech border only 3 or 4 miles away. The same beautiful landscape persisted save that now the forest rose more steeply. Despite cycling quite hard the cold began to creep into the bones and I returned to Bad Schandau. The Elbe Way runs all the way from Hamburg to the Czech Republic, it would make quite a Clarion expedition!

One advantage of having your city flattened by bombs is that you can build nice wide roads with plenty of room for cycle paths and Berlin is very well served in this respect. Moreover the public transport, trams, S-Bahn (overground) and underground all make good provision for bikes and there is also an excellent website which will give a detailed and informative route by bike from any A to any B. Accordingly before leaving the UK I printed out the route from our hotel in Köpenick to the centre – about 11 miles.

On another freezing cold day I started out with the first 20 minutes in light snow on cycle paths not entirely cleared of snow and ice but I was rewarded as I cycled by the delightful Treptow Park and down tree-lined Puschkin Allee as well as past a protest camp sporting the slogan “No person is illegal” none of which would I have seen from the underground. Periodically consulting 2 maps and my set of instructions was, however, tough on the hands.

After my tour of the sights for which the bike was ideal, my return trip took 55 minutes including several stops as I strove to generate some internal heat.