The Next Ride: Sunday 9 March 2014 – Cuckoo Trail and Pevensey Levels

25 February 2014

Only c 16/17 miles and mainly pretty flat.

From Polegate we’ll take the Cuckoo Trail through Hailsham leaving it at Hellingly near the Cuckoo’s Rest. From there we’ll head eastward to Magham Down and the outskirts of Herstmonceux for about two and a half miles.  Half of this will be on the fairly busy A271 and gently uphill – but that’s the lot for traffic and (apart from the Trail bridge over the by-pass) the nearest thing to a hill on the route.

We’ll stop for lunch at the Catkins (sic) Tea Rooms.  I’ve checked  this out – it does a roast or a range of snacks and sandwiches including vegetarian ones on Sundays and can also supply free range eggs to anyone running short of them.  It’s in the Cooper’s Croft Garden Centre, adjacent to a “high quality” cattery (hence presumably the tea-room’s name) and near the famous “Truggery” shop which afficionados of ancient Sussex crafts might like to go and have a look at after lunch.

Then it’s down Cricketing Lane and across the Levels to Rickney and then along the usually quiet  Glynleigh Road eventually rejoining the Cuckoo Trail just north of the Old Loom where we can make the usual tea-stop before returning to Polegate.

Catch the 10.20 from Brighton station or
Meet: at 10.49 at Polegate station
Trains back at 42 minutes past the hour (non-stop). There are others involving a change:

My mobile number is 07770743287 


We welcome people who want to try one or two of our rides before joining. If you would like to join the Clarion club, click here to download a membership form.

The Last Ride: Sunday 23 February 2014 – Shoreham Airport

25 February 2014

On a very windy day at Marocco’s a small group of recovering cyclists quickly arrived at the decision to curtail the planned ride to Bramber Castle and go to Shoreham Airport.

Our leader, Jenny, was joined by Sikka/Sue, Anne and Mick, and to general delight Nye, who brought along his parents TJ and Joan. Nye at 9 months also lowered the average age of Brighton Clarionettes by about 2 years all on his own.

We rode along the front towards Carats admiring a foaming sea

and somewhat battered by the side wind, arrived at the Airport just early enough to avoid the queue We spent a happy couple of hours enjoying some reasonably priced food and general conversation which ranged from a trip to Cuba and other cycling tours, the NHS database, our various ailments and other lame excuses for avoiding the full ride, but largely focussing on one delightful infant.

We were joined by David who had been waiting at the Tollbridge and when texted news of our change of plan set off to Steyning to stretch his legs.

We set off back the way we came, dropping off one by one, happy to have enjoyed another day of wheels and fellowship. Thank you Jenny



25 February 2014

Dear fellow members

In the absence of any other volunteer I will be “backstopping” on 9 March. If Jim hadn’t offered to take on the 23rd March, when we will be meeting up with the London Clarion at lunchtime, I would have been able to do that one too. But I’ll be away for both the April ones – so we definitely need volunteers for those dates.

I suggested last time that Bank Holidays were good times to avoid roads altogether if possible and that for the Easter Sunday ride might be a good idea to organise an entirely – or almost entirely – off-road route like the Cuckoo Trail. My ride on 9 March will be using a stretch of it on the outward leg but if I was planning for Easter Sunday I’d be looking at the possibility of a straight up and down ride to Heathfield, or Horam or maybe the pub at Vines Cross.

As for 9 March, since it’s still winter and my back has been a bit of a bugger lately I decided that I wanted to do a short but scenically varied type of ride on the model of the one last year that took in a bit of the Centurion Way, some country roads, the pub at Dell Quay with the nice view over the Chichester Channel, the Salterns Way, the lock and the marina, and returning beside the Chichester Canal. Hope I’ve succeeded (see details below). I was a bit concerned about flooding in relation to the Pevensey Levels but they seem to have escaped so far and we all hope the worst of the rain is now behind us. (Famous last words?) But, as with every Clarion ride if you’re intending to come on the ride make sure to check your emails after 5 on Saturday afternoon just in case there has had to be a cancellation.

We are well served in Brighton Clarion with members brimming with literary talent – as the quality of our ride reports often demonstrates. But as far as I can recall we are a bit short of poets. To inspire you all here’s a bit from the CTC’s Cycleclips.

CTC member Mark Newbury is in esteemed company with the inclusion of his ode ‘Lycra Clad Loony’ inSpokes, a volume of poems about cycling, published to celebrate the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Yorkshire. Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s work is also featured and Yorkshire writer Ian Macmillan wrote the introduction. Other well-known poets, some of whom are also cyclists, also contributed. All proceeds from the sale of the work will help fund the Otley Word Feast on 28-30 March 2014.

Julian will be taking over as treasurer next month but if there is still anyone who hasn’t paid their subscription for 2014 (difficult to believe, I know,and Jim tells me that some of the outstanding ones have been received since the last newsletter) they can still send a cheque for £7 payable to Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club to Jim Grozier at 92a Springfield Road, Brighton BN1 6DE. [You can also pay by bank transfer – details in the newsletter.]


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 152. A lady cyclist, the Manchester spanner and an advert

25 February 2014

I put in quite a long report of the 2nd Easter Meet in the last issue. This week it’s just a few odds and ends. I drew a blank with an internet search for the Manchester spanner so you’ll just have to imagine what its unique properties might have been. (Unless anyone has got one and can let me know about it in which case all will be revealed in the next edition.)

From Clarion 2 May 1896

A lady member of the Manchester C.C. wishes to cycle to London in Whit week, and would like to know of any other Clarionettes who may be journeying there at the same time, so that she might join their company. Further particulars may be had from the secretary of the club.

* * *

The attentiion of Manchester cyclists is drawn to the fact that the maker of the Manchester spanner, Mr. E Tilston – who is a staunch Clarionette by-the-way – has just opened out in a new line at 287 Stretfield Road, under the title of the Cycle Fittings Company, where he will offer for sale B.S.A.fittings, Hans Renold’s chains and the very best accessories in the trade.

* * *

And from 9 May

Advert from NEW AGE CLOTHING CO. Leicester featured “A special line – Cycling Suits”

The same issue also included Mont Blong (= Montague Blatchford) on “The Art of Happiness.”


Next time. Some Clarion cycling club reports

The Next Ride: Sunday 23 February 2014 – Hove to Steyning and back

11 February 2014

Just a little potter out to Steyning and back via the Shoreham Toll Bridge and the Coombes road, since no one else has volunteered to lead a ride on this date. It’s a re-run of my previous ride while some of the club were in Norfolk last year.

Meet outside Marocco’s at 11 am. Ride past Carat’s, 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. Last time we struck lucky with the White Horse, so we might try there again. 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: 11 am outside Marocco’s on the seafront in Hove. I will be there anyway (unless the weather is absolutely atrocious when as usual the ride will be cancelled by email the day before), so just turn up. We’ll wait, oh, until 11.05 for latecomers! The route is so well known that I’m sure we’ll be easy to catch.

Total distance: 20 miles, mostly 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


We welcome people who want to try one or two of our rides before joining. If you would like to join the Clarion club, click here to download a membership form.

The Last Ride: Sunday 9 February 2014 Hassocks – Plumpton – Hassocks

11 February 2014

Minor crisis at the station: – realised I had left my pannier on the steps in front of my door… Oh well! The sun was shining so on to the train. No other Clarionet on the train but our leader Leon and Julian were there waiting at Hassocks. We waited for a bit longer, and just as we were about to go David, who was waiting at the other station entrance, phoned – then we were four…

Brighton & Hove Clarion cycle ride 09-02-2014

Off we cycled into, given recent weather, an unbelievably sunny bright morning. Yes there was a wind but it was behind us, so the ride to the restaurant was idyllic. That bright light, the roads smooth and remarkably dry, through Keymer, Ditchling, down the lovely long sweep of Spatham Lane and finally up the only real hill to the Half Moon. Whether it was the sun – or maybe it was “Be kind to cyclists” day or something, but we were surprised by at least two motorists who slowed down and waited patiently for us to pass on the way.

By now full of the joys of (nearly) Spring and feeling that we should celebrate the Clarion’s ten years (not certain it was the 9th but this was the first ride in the anniversary month), we tucked into delicious meals :- Roast dinner with Falafel for Leon, Sea Bass for David, which he said was excellent, Cod, Chips and Mushy peas for Julian and Wild Mushroom and Spinach Tagliatelle for me – all delicious.

1 ½ hours passed eating and in wide-ranging discussion, which went from nature walks, where Red Kites are to be found, to the intricacies of the situation in Thailand, clarified for us by David who had just spent time there and who knows past and present history very well. It was enlightening to hear how limited and locked within a particular world view media comment on the present situation is and how even reporters based on the ground have a limited understanding of the situation.

But finally we had to leave the Half Moon, by now it was cloudier and this time we had the wind (which had got stronger) in our faces. Happily it was only 4 miles to the station. The others valiantly faced the wind, and the fact that this first part had the only hills. For me the combination of a heavier, albeit delicious meal than I usually have on rides, the now very heavy gusts and legs aching through lack of practice meant that, grateful for their patience, I walked up most of the “inclines”. But, it did not last long – we turned into a lane more protected from the wind and were soon enjoying our final treat to finish the day: coffee and goodies at Costa’s in Hassocks. There too we spent much time on putting the world to rights – or bemoaning that it was not to rights, before heading home.

The fates or luck had favoured us, giving us a rare sunny morning and, other than a very fleeting show of hail, a day with no rain – (Arriving home, as I put my key in the door – the rain started – what timing ! – ( and by the way my pannier was still there…)

Thanks to Leon for his optimism in disregarding the weather forecasts and for giving us a great ride.



11 February 2014

Dear fellow members 11 February 2014

Many thanks to Jenny for taking on the 23rd Feb. Now we need some offers for March (and April). At the AGM Julian suggested that a “how to do” guide for Clarion rides might be helpful for people who hadn’t led one before. We all thought that was a good idea and Roger volunteered to put one together – in consultation with other experienced ride organisers. I’m circulating along with this newsletter.

Roger mentions the website and previous newsletters as one source of ideas for rides. Since all points south of Brighton are permanently underwater it can be 
difficult to come up with a totally new ride. But there is nothing wrong 
with repeating one that has been done – perhaps many times – already. If you 
want to make it more “orginal” you can always plan the ride to start and 
finish in the opposite direction. Details of nearly all past rides can be 
found via the blog.  Clicking 
on “next ride” and scrolling down (where necessary clicking on “previous 
entries”) gives you access to the ride leaders’ descriptions of the rides 
from February 2011 onwards, while clicking on “ride reports” gives you a 
picture of how the ride went according to whoever reported it. To go 
further back for rides from 2004 to 2011 click on “previous website” and 
then “archive of previous circulars”. There you’ll find both ride reports 
and – in the newsletters or circulars archived – the ride details given by 
those who led them.

I’m surprised – and disappointed – to learn that there are still no less than 14 people on our membership list who haven’t yet paid their subscription for 2014. I know times are hard but… It could be, of course, that all have them have either moved away or decided they don’t won’t to be members or come on rides any more – but it does seem a suspiciously large group of people coming to the same conclusion at the same time to be explained in this way. However, if either of these reasons applies I’d be grateful if those concerned at least let me know – it will save me having to contact so many people individually.

We now have a new treasurer – Julian. But he won’t be able to take over until early next month and Jim has – more than kindly – offered to carry on in the meantime. So if you’re one of those who’ve forgotten to date to renew please 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 – details in the newsletter.]

* * *

You’ll see that I have now completed the future rides grid for the rest of the year. This schedule avoids both the start and finish of BST – but it includes Easter Sunday. This is a good day to avoid busy roads. Perhaps one for the Cuckoo Trail or similar?

* * *

Leon has sent on to me a message from Duncan Blinkhorn, the Bike Hub Project co-ordinator.

Many thanks to all who have helped us get this far with setting up the new Bike Hub workshop space at Circus Street. We’re aiming to get it up and running for a launch event on Fri 14th Feb (11am-1pm) ready for half term and a series of activity days, as part of  what we are calling ‘Love Your Bike Week’ (Tue 18 – Fri 21 Feb, 11am-3pm), culminating in a Fun Day community event on Sat 22nd Feb (11am-3pm).

We are doing all this in partnership with the Cathedral Group who are the developers for the site and building up to a high street presence on the Lewes Road to encourage and empower more people to cycle along the new improved Lewes Road corridor. Cathedral are helping with publicity, organisation and funding for the 22 Feb event.

* * *

We’ve heard about John’s and before that Jenny’s experience last year with drivers who “didn’t see them.” But some people can be deliberately nasty. At the end of last month I was struck by the editorial in Cycling Weekly and decided to summarise it and quite a few bits form it. In the end it seemed better just to give you the entire thing. Apologies if you‘ve read it before in the “comic” but I know plenty of members won’t have. It’s by Robert Garbutt, CW’s editor. Just hope the Sussex police will follow the example of Surrey.

Don’t tolerate driver abuse. The police are keen to help wronged cyclists

A bit of aggro from motorists is all part of being a cyclist these days. You become hardened to it as a matter of course but the danger is that it becomes difficult to differentiate between what is acceptable and what is outright abuse. Even if we wanted to react, where can we turn? Surely the police have better things to do than to listen to a load of moaning cyclists.

Actually, I’m wrong about that. In Surrey at least, the police want wronged bike riders to get in touch, and last week I was urged to encourage riders to call 101 in cases where they suffered abuse or threats from drivers. You’ll need to give the vehicle registration, make, colour etc as many details as possible. The use of helmet cams is encouraged, and a picture taken on your phone may help.

I contacted Surrey police after a particularly annoying incident when a car forced me to stop and the driver threatened further reprisals, telling me that anti-cycling vigilante groups were ‘patrolling’ in the area. I wasn’t much help to the police, as I didn’t get the reg. But they were certainly sympathetic and acted on the information I supplied.

Reading that last bit about the threatening driver and the “vigilantes” you can’t help thinking “what on earth is the world coming too?” It’s a good question.


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 151. Bakewell Meet – Montagu Blatchford reports

11 February 2014

Well, I say Montagu Blatchford – Robert’s brother who specialised in features such as the regular “Theatreland” in the Clarion. The report is just signed M.B. but Montague is the obvious suspect. As you’ll see I’ve edited it here and there. Otherwise it would spill over into the next newsletter.


I did get to Bakewell somehow in the company of Whiffly Puncto, who was attired in a cycling outfit that left nothing to be desired; but his “bike” went down comfortably in the guard’s van with several others. It is often better thus.

We found that Bakewell had been taken possession of by the Clarion cyclists, some 200 of whom had gathered together in the “large hall” of the Royal Oak.

There we found Nunquam wearing a blue cap and a moderate smile; Dangle envelopped in a cloud of tobacco-smoke and gloom, his quaintly curved beard surmounted by a brown sombrero of generous dimensions; and the Candid Friend in complete bicycle rig…

On Saturday we went to Hadden Hall and some of us to Chatsworth and had a  jolly time. At the former place we were shown round by Whiffly, who is quite at home there… After which we collected on the terrace, where the O’Groomie of Birmingham read “Haddon Hall” from  the “Nunquam Papers,” and read it very well…

And what a capital article it is. Full of keen observation, historical allusion… poetry,humour and imagination.

Then we got back to Bakewell and, where wild cyclers were still arriving; and had a large and hilarious dinner- large I mean in point of numbers and hilarious in the matter of manners.

There followed “a social evening~” with by now 350 present.

The next day they walked to Monsal Dale.

On arriving at Monsal Dale, the Conference of the Clarion Cycling Clubs was held – but nothing came of it.

At this function I occupied the chair which was a cane one pitched in a breezy spot…  Everybody else sat on the grass, or the walls, or one another and gloated at my sufferings. The “National Committee” then gave their “annual report,” from whidh it appeared that they had only held one meeting at which nothing was done. This was considered so unsatisfactory that they were all re-elected for another twelve months, the O’Groomie being added to their number.

M B then included 2 reports from the Derbyshire Times including “in the evening [they] attended a “Labour Church” service… where Mr Blatchford gave an admirable address.” There were some errors

…although I am credited with an “adimirabble address” on Sunday evening, that feat was really performed by a London Socialist who doesn’t want his name mentioned. All I did was to tell a story about my grandfather’s donkey.

The Clarion made a favourable impression according to M B and

“…did more for the cause of Socialism than could have been done by a dozen “mass meetings” and a score of denunciatory orators. I may be mistaken, of course, but that is my opinion. There was no attempt made to preach the gospel of Socialism but our men were gay and good-tempered, full of fun and frolic, and being contented themselves and considerate of the people they went amongst, did more to dispel prejudice and popularise Socialism than the most earnest oratory could have accomplished.

Next time.  A lady cyclist, the Manchester spanner and an advert