Dear fellow members
Well, thanks to Leon coming forward to volunteer there will be a February ride this year. But will there be a second one on 23rd? Only if someone else comes through with a proposal in the next week or so
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The sole advantage – from my own selfish point of view – of Anne and Mick having to cancel Sunday’s ride because of the appalling weather that was forecast is that it enables me to get this newsletter out today and leaves me a bit more time to get the AGM agenda papers ready to mail out tomorrow or early next week. If there is still anyone who wants anything on the agenda, or to make a report, that hasn’t already sent it me please do so today.
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I was hoping everyone had sent in their subs by now. But I see from Jim’s treasurer’s report that around half the membership haven’t yet done so. This is not at all encouraging to all those who put in time keeping the club going in different ways – by leading rides, managing the blog and everything else that has to be done. There is just one week to do it while we still have a treasurer. So, last chance to send a cheque for £7 payable to Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club to Jim Grozier at 92a Springfield Road, Brighton BN1 6DE this week. [You can also pay by bank transfer to sort code – details in the newsletter]
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How we got started
Last time I said that I would include an account of how the B&H Clarion got started ten years ago. My diary entry for 18 April 2004 records our first Sunday ride. “Met Joyce and Sheila at Polegate. We did the Cuckoo Trail up as far as Heathfield, found the Golden Martlets closed, had a drink and a warm at the Railway Tavern in Hailsham and a cup of tea at the craft centre near the end of the trail. Weather atrocious. I was really cold. But we got some more rides planned.”
Joyce suggested that it would be a good idea to have reports of our rides – something that has been a feature of our newsletters ever since. I did the report for that first ride, commenting on the appalling weather but adding, “having survived World War II we were not going to let a spot of rain deter us. In spite of the weather we had an enjoyable day – and thanks largely to Joyce thoughtfully bringing a flask of hot soup we survived.” By the time this went out we had 7 members.
Our first “social,” or at least non-riding activity that year was to venture one evening into the wilds (by car rather than bike) to the King’s Arms at Fernhurst, near Haslemere for a rare visit that far south of the Mikron Theatre group (who usually toured on the canals). They were presenting Pedal Power, an excellent piece about the early days of the Clarion cycling clubs. Afterwards, or it may have been during the interval, I recall a very “knowledgeable” woman – not I hasten to say anyone to do with the production – confidently informing me that there was no Clarion cycling club in Brighton. I told her that I was in fact its secretary but, as too often is the case with such folk, she preferred to believe what she “knew” in spite of the evidence talking to her! Clearly she had all the qualifications needed for inclusion in our coalition government.
But how did it come about that we formed a cycling club and why the Clarion? Let’s take the last bit first. I’m afraid since I was the instigator it becomes a bit autobiographical – but stay with me if you can. I had known about the Clarion cycling clubs since the mid 1970s but – only in the context of the decades before 1914. As part of my research on democracy and the Labour movement I had looked at all the editions of the Clarion up to the start of the First World War. I wasn’t researching anything directly to do with cycling but as a cyclist I was interested when I came across accounts of how the cycling clubs got started.
Fast forward a few years. We find me in the members’ kitchen at Bourne youth hostel in the Fens just before Easter. I’m on my way to Nottingham to stay with my parents-in-law. Sue and Chloe have gone there already by train, but I have taken a few days to do a mini-tour of East Anglia and have cycled from Kings Lynn that day. In the kitchen are two old blokes (i.e. men about 10 or 20 years younger than I am now) and to my surprise – since I thought the Clarion CC had died out decades before – one of them is wearing a Clarion badge – the silver trumpet kind. Without really thinking I say “Boots!” (I’d read about this in those papers from the 1890s) “Spurs!” he replies, “but how do you know about that?”
That’s how I discovered that the Clarion CC was still going – they were on the way to the Easter Meet somewhere on the East Coast that year. It was pre-internet days, but I managed to find the address of the national secretary (may have got it from those blokes I met) and joined up as an “individual” member which I remained for a few years and then lapsed.
Fast forward to early 2004. I’ve retired after suffering badly enough from stress to be ordered by my GP to take a month off at the end of the previous year. I hadn’t intended to retire then but soon decided that if I carried on it would only make me ill again. So I finished at the end of the summer in 2003 and deliberately took things very easily as instructed. I’d been so busy for the last decade and a half that I’d almost given up cycling but now I had more time I wanted to get going – gently – again. Back in the ’70s and ’80s I’d done rides with the local CTC but now I didn’t feel up to taking on 50 to 70 mile rides. But at the same time I didn’t want to just be a solitary cyclist. Apart from anything else cycling with others was more likely to keep me at it!
I discovered that the national Clarion was still going and that you only needed 3 people to start a section. I recruited Joyce and Ed Fury – and Sheila joined us very shortly afterwards. I drafted a constitution for the section and sent it to Ed and Joyce on the 20th of February, wrote to the national secretary – Charles Jepson in those days – on 29th and we affiliated. The rest – as they say – is history. It’s just sad that neither Ed nor Sheila are with us any longer. Nor, of course, is Brian, who joined us during that first year and remained our link with the old 1940s/50s Brighton Clarion until his death last year.
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Some of us met Alex Southern and some of the other members of the London Clarion at the beginning of November after they had cycled to Brighton. We agreed that it would be good to have a common destination for rides now and then and meet up at lunchtime. Alex suggests that we might do this on 23 March with East Grinstead as our ride destination. He suggests we might try the Old Dunnings Mill for lunch – but is open to other suggestions. I think this is a good idea but we’ll need to work out a starting point and a route. Any suggestions for that or for alternative meeting places?
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Response to Jenny and John
Our good friend Peter Roscoe, secretary of Bury Clarion, was very concerned about the recent reports and discussions in this newsletter about safety and accidents – notably John’s worrying experience a month or so ago. He has sent the following to the secretaries of all the Clarion sections. The attached Peter refers to contains the pieces Jenny and John contributed to the 3rd January newsletter.
I have long thought that we as a National Club should be involved someway in the issue of Road Safety.
The attached which was included in Brighton Section’s weekly newsletter, that Ian Bullock produces, reminded me of this.
At first I thought maybe it should go on our National Website but it is lengthy and I would venture that the percentage of members looking at our website is low. Then we are inundated with information these days. Even so I thought I would give you the opportunity to read it and do with it what you will.
We are affiliated to CTC and they run the Cyclists Defence Fund so we are probably contributing indirectly I have made personal contributions to this Fund and will do so in the future. Maybe there should be something in Boots and Spurs about individual members contributing. Maybe we should contribute something directly from National Clarion Funds or should this be a matter for the individual. The same applies to the national campaigning organisation RoadPeace. I am a member of this organisation – ‘putting my money where my mouth is’ so to speak
There will be some members who know much more about the issues than I do. It just might be beneficial if we had their view. Maybe they will be critical of the Cyclists Defence fund – seems ok to me.
Dieppe: Anyone interested?
John sent me this recently
Had you thought of entering the annual Dieppe raid? It’s from 28th to 30th June and offers a selection of rides from 30 km upwards. It’s organised by the Dieppe CC and attracts club riders and families. Details on the website www.dieppetour.com. By all accounts good rides, hospitality and fun.
Contact John at email@example.com if you want to discuss this further.