The Next Ride

26 March 2014

Sunday 6 April 2014: Burgess Hill and Borde Hill

We’ve been trying to revisit Borde Hill Gardens having remembered the ride Ian led 7 years ago on 19th Jan 2007 when the sun shone & we enjoyed the lovely lanes of the Sussex Weald We’ve shortened the original to 20 miles from Burgess Hill, rather than Hassocks. We cycle up Gatehouse Lane, Bishopstone Lane, Pickwell Lane and Broxmead Lane.

We lunch at The Elvira Cafe at Borde Hill Gardens and return via Slugwash Lane. We’d like to catch the 10.00 train to Burgess Hill arriving at 10.13.  The lanes are undulating with one short section of Broxmead Lane possibly requiring a dismount but paved & mainly traffic-free & a few bits of main roads to cross and a short section to ride.

There is the possibility for those travelling by train of returning from Wivelsfield station to cut out the last tedious mile through Burgess Hill so buy a return to Wivelsfield.

Catch the 10.00 train from Brighton station or meet at Burgess Hill station at 10 13

Return trains from Wivelsfield 26, and  36 mins past the hour or from Burgess Hill at 01,28 and 33 past the hour.

Terrain -no off-road but short undulations on good lanes.

Lunch – Elvira Cafe Borde Hill Gardens. An early indication of numbers would be helpful.

Mick’s mobile   07803730401

Mick and Anne

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The Last Ride – Suzanne’s Report

26 March 2014

Balcombe to East Grinstead, via Turners Hill – 23 March 2014

March 23, 2014: Balcombe to East Grinstead via Turners Hill

The 10.05 London bound train deposited Jim (ride leader), Sue/Sikka, Tessa, Nick, Suzanne and Roger at Balcombe. David arrived car-borne. Joyce and Leon very wisely (as will become apparent) chose to continue to Three Bridges and alight there.

A taste of what was to come appeared within the first 200 yards, in the form of a steep incline. The area from Balcombe to East Grinstead forms part of an area known as the High Weald, with the emphasis on “high”. However, once we had conquered the rise up through Balcombe, we benefitted from the glorious run down to Balcombe Lake. Alas, what goes down must go up, and down … and up …… and down …… and up. However, Paddockhurst Lane gave us tantalising distant glimpses of Worth Abbey and Church, and after that Paddockhurst Road allowed us to see – far, far away – that white concrete conglommeration that is Gatwick Airport with the North Downs rising boldly behind it. Turners Hill, we discovered, is on a hill. We stopped on the handkerchief sized village green and had time to admire the hard men (and possibly women – you can’t always see under those helmets) who had actually cycled up the north face of Turners Hill.

A blast from Jim’s whistle brought us to attention and we were off again, plunging down to Kingscote and beneath a beautiful eliptical brick railway bridge. Stopping to allow Jim to peer over the side of the road to see one (of the) source(s) of the River Medway

The Medway near Kingscote

– we heard a fearsome sound. No! Not fearsome. As we gazed up at the overhead bridge, a green steam engine puffed its way across, ready to pull into Station on the Bluebell Line. We all waved like demented yellow hobgobblins … and not a single wave did we get back from the passengers. Shame on them.

The author of this piece does not mind admitting that Turners Hill Road and Saints Hill Road were somewhat of a struggle. However, a brief rest at the main gate of the Scientologists (under the watchfull eye of their Security) bought welcome relief, but the West Hoathly Road did prove a bit of a challenge, being narrow and (at our stage of exhustion) virtually perpendicular, as imortalised by by fitter cyclists overtaking the Clarionettes at a rate of knots:

March 23, 2014: Balcombe to East Grinstead via Turners Hill

But it was a very beautiful part of the ride, made even more attractive by the knowledge that the Old Dunning’s Mill pub was only a km away. And what a good pub it was. Everyone was delighted to see that TJ, Joan and Nye (all of 10 months old now) were there to meet us, as were Leon and Joyce who had chosen the relative flat, if bumpy, Worth Way to get there. The pub made a crowd of 17½ people very welcome and the food was superb – indeed, desserts were ordered by some – no name, no pack drill, but you know who you are.

Nick had to leave as he had a date with the death throes of Borderline Records in Gardiner Street. In true Clarion style, he did photograph a number of the excellent lunches before he left.

The aim of the lunch stop was to meet up with a noble band from the London Clarion group who were riding from Waterloo. The rendez-vous had been fixed for 1.30, but a pub in Forest Row had lured the hardy band into dallying. Well, nearly all the hardy band. Andy had made it to East Grinsted courtesy of Southern Rail, Frank seemed to have been irretrievably lost somewhere between Waterloo and Edenbrdge, but Alan, Alex, Martin and George turned up just after 2pm, most of them spendidly attired thus:

Kit

Chat was had with the Londoners on various topics of common interest, but only too soon the Brighton and Hove brigade decided it was time to be brave and face the ride home. By common consent, the Worth Way was opted for. My! but East Grinstead is a hilly town. Finally we were all on the Worth Way – even David with his narrow tyres, which he had sensibly “down pressured” to 30psi –- and in no time at all we were back in sunny Three Bridges. A cup of tea and a twenty minute wait, a pleasant chat and then a vitrtually empty train to relax in all the way back to Brighton.

A fine day with far more sun than hail (they were only tiny stones, honest!), with more downs than ups (honest?) and more lovely countryside than you could shake a stick at. Everyone had their own fascinating memory or spotted a marvel. Nick could not resist celebrating the 210th anniversary of the writing of Wordsworth’ putting pen to paper with this magnificent floral portrait:

March 23, 2014: Balcombe to East Grinstead via Turners Hill

while alas, Jim and Suzanne could not resist nagging Nick once again about his nascent “derrière du constructeur”:

Derriere de Constructeur

There was the Red Kite whirrling above the lake or the magnificent ball of mistletow high in a tree above the Worth Way, some “two up, two down” bird accommodation

Bird House

the jolly Pig at Pound Hill:

Pig at Pound Hill

or the truly bonkers cycle lanes:

Interesting cycle lanes

Thanks Jim, exhausting, yes, but “real” cycling and a lovely route.


News

26 March 2014

Dear fellow members                                              24 March 2014

Excellent response to my plea for ride organising volunteers. Thanks to Tessa and Sue and to Helen.

We are now looking for a couple of offers for the May rides- and for any available date after, of course. I will be away until 6 April and not checking emails so please don’t worry if you send me a message and don’t get a reply till then. Of course, if you want to take on either of the May rides you can pop that in the “Future Rides”

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20 mph speed limits. Message from our Campaigns Organiser

The 20 mph campaign has been successful so far with the Sustainability, Environment & Transport Committee re-instating  Preston Drove, Surrenden Road and Stanford Avenue . The TRO orders have now been published . so we are back on track for traffic speed reduction. But we still need  support for the proposed 20 mph limits to be stated.

Please fill in the response form on the Council’s website for TRO-9b-2014 and TRO-9c-2014. Deadline: 8 April 2014. 

Tell the Council that these roads are routes used by children going to the many local schools. 20 mph speed limits mean greater safety and a better environment for healthy walking and cycling.You can alternatively email parking.consultation@brighton-hove.gov.uk stating your support, and giving reasons as above.

Make sure you give the TRO reference numbers, and your fullname and address. Give reasons for your support.

Joyce

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Bob has drawn my attention to this interesting item from the CTC’s “Cycle Clips”

A Passion for Rationals‘, a comic costume drama based on an incident that dates back to the early days of CTC. It centres on the clash between CTC member Viscountess Harberton and the landlady of the Hautboy Hotel in Surrey, who refused to serve her as she was wearing Rational Dress. The play takes place in Brighton from 3-5 May 2014

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Recent Court cases

I held this over last time because there was so much material for that issue. Back on 27 February Robert Garbutt devoted his editorial in Cycling Weekly to a very disturbing case. It’s worth quoting in full (apologies to any readers of the “comic” who’ve already seen it)

Pretty much every bike rider in Britain has been upset by the lenient sentencing of the driver who said that there was too much traffic to avoid killing a cyclist

Teeside Crown Court were told how lorry driver Joseph Reed would have seen cyclist Sean Ruff for at least nine seconds before hitting him on the A66 last May. but he did not swerve or slow down, even after the collision. He told the court that there was too much traffic on the dual carriageway to brake or overtake the rider, though witnesses said this was not the case.

Reed received a two-and-a-half-year driving ban and a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to careless driving. It is seen as another attempt by the Crown Prosecuting Service to avoid expensive jury trials by accepting guilty pleas to lesser offences. A conviction for dangerous driving carries a sentence of two to 14 years’ imprisonment.

Just count nine seconds. It’s a pretty long time to have had sight of the rider; or in distance Ruff would have been more than 200 metres away when Reed first saw him.

‘Careless’ doesn’t cut it. Driving a 7.5 tonne vehicle comes with great responsibility and having taken a life, Reed shouldn’t ever be allowed back behind the wheel for all our sakes.

Last week a CW reader responded to this saying “The question for me is not so much whether it should be careless or dangerous driving, but rather, when is it manslaughter.” Adrian Clarke cited the recent case of someone who died after being punched where the argument was over whether this was manslaughter or murder. He concluded

At some point, we have to test this in the courts. The current situation where if I attack someone with my fists or a knife I am deemed a murderer, whereas when I do the same thing with a car, I am not even considered a criminal, is illogical and must change.

How typical or untypical was the Teeside case? The same CW issue that carried Garbutt’s leader contained a report which –if anything – is even more disturbing, though mercifully in this case no one was killed.   Here’s the gist of Nick Bull’s report

A driver who deliberately steered his vehicle towards 24 members of the Port Sunlight Wheelers during a club run in November was jailed for six months. …….. The court heard how the 25 year old laughed as he drove his Transit van on the wrong side of the road in the direction of the cyclists, ……… Morris claimed he had swerved to avoid something in the road, but after initially leaving the scene, he stopped and reversed towards a handful of riders who had given chase in an attempt to obtain his registration number. Several riders suffered minor injuries in the incident.

You do have to wonder about the sanity of some people on the ride. There is of course no shortage of lunatic cyclists, often of the “madcap outlaw” variety like the one that crashed into me during his illegal charge down the Hove seafront last year, but by and large, in spite of such exceptions, they are probably of much more danger to themselves than to others. The reverse is true of cars, buses etc. Motor vehicles are intrinsically dangerous. We’ve all done daft and potentially dangerous things on the roads, no doubt; there is such a thing as a genuine accident. But the two cases from the “comic” are really worrying.

And on not too dissimilar a topic:

Cycling on Pavements

Last time I included Suzanne’s letter to Robert Goodwill and asked if anyone wanted to comment.   Mick did. Here’s what he said.

I totally disagree with Suzanne’s letter re cycling on pavements. I try and avoid cycling on the pavement wherever possible but there are unfortunately occasions when the  pavement is  empty and the road presents a highly dangerous situation Personally I would prefer to make a minor infringement of the highway code and remain alive to staying on the road but end up dead. or paraplegic Until we get an adequate safe system of road management for cyclists everyone has to make their own continuous risk assessment of road situations and I would certainly not condemn cyclists who ride for short distances and considerately (i.e. not carelessly or recklessly) on the pavement. The law has no difficulty in judging motorists who drive carelessly and recklessly and can apply similar criteria to cyclists cycling on the pavement in deciding whether prosecution is appropriate.

What do other people think?

Ian

 


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 154. More reports from cycling clubs

26 March 2014

154. More reports from cycling clubs (from Clarion 26 May 1896)

Scarborough
We have enrolled twelve members up to the present, and hope to increase. Our season was opened with a run to Ayton against a gale of wind. The village was fairly saturated with Socialistic literature and quiet conversations were the rule.  The villages of Staxton, Granton, Burniston, Flixton, and Fokton have been well peppered with leaflets and at the two latter we sold a few “Looking Backwards” and “Jesus the Socialist” Our run for May 16th is York, where we shall stay till Sunday evening and meet the Hull and Halifax CCCs, so I hope the Ebor bravest will turn out in great numbers to welcome us. Clarionettes always welcome to our runs.

LITTLE BILLIE

Blackpool 
Commenced season 1896 with a short run on March 22; commenced by making four new members. April 12   run to Stoneyhurst; showery morning, but we dodged the storm of the day at noon by turning in for dinner close to the College. After refreshing the inner man we exhausted all our hymns, solos &c getting a special compliment (also cigars) from the landlord and landlady. We have 20 members at present, and are making new ones every run, so let Manchester and others look out.  We were represented at Bakewell by two of our comrades: Easter is a bad time for us here. We are looking forward to the meet at Hardcastle Crags, June 7 as being our special day, as we expect to be a strong club by that date.

SNOOKS

 

Next time: Advice from Swiftsure


The Next Ride: Sunday 23 March 2014 – Balcombe to East Grinstead via Turners Hill

11 March 2014

This ride has been planned to coincide with the London Clarion’s ride to East Grinstead. Actually what the London section said was that we would have lunch “with the two clubs cycling to it from their respective territories”. They are cycling from London … we are NOT going to cycle from Brighton (or Hove)!

The obvious choice of starting point in “our territory” would be Three Bridges Station, so that we could cycle the 8 miles along the Worth Way. However we have done that many times before, so I thought I’d try a different approach. In 2010 I led a Balcombe Circular which went anticlockwise through Worth Forest, Slaugham and Staplefield. It started with a big whoosh down to the reservoir, a quick walk up the other side, and then three miles of a lovely quiet lane variously called Paddockhurst Lane and Back Lane, to the B2110. We’ll retrace that route but turn right at this junction instead of left, and make for Turners Hill; it’s a B road, but traffic is not heavy, even in the week; and it is fairly level.

After Turners Hill we continue on the B2110 and soon go under a huge bridge carrying the newly-reconstituted Bluebell Railway between Kingscote and East Grinstead. But there is another matter of interest here – the youthful River Medway, even thinner and younger than the section we crossed at Forest Row in 2011. We’ll pass Saint Hill Manor, “Home of L Ron Hubbard” (beware of Scientologists!) and Standen, a 19th century National Trust property – there will not be time to visit, but it’s nice to know how to get there.

Approaching East Grinstead from the south, we arrive at the Old Dunnings Mill, a big pub which was originally a watermill (it still has the mill race and wheel) hopefully in time to welcome the London deputation. It serves several nice Harveys ales and plenty of nice looking food. London Clarion have booked a table for 20 people at 13:00 – let’s make sure we fill it!

Practicalities:

Getting there: We will leave Balcombe station at 10:30. Take the 10:00 train from Brighton (destination London Victoria). There is only one train an hour to Balcombe. Londoners can get the 9:32 from Victoria (or, if feeling fit, ride with the London Clarion: meet at 08.00, outside The Old Vic, The Cut, London, SE1 8NB).

Length: 10.5 miles to the pub, which will take about 2 hours. See below for return options.

Terrain: All on hard surfaces. There are two short steep bits on the approach to East Grinstead, in addition to the one at Balcombe. The rest is fairly flat; Paddockhurst/Back Lane gently undulates and rises slowly at a gradient of about 1 in 80, which you don’t notice. The descent from Balcombe village to the reservoir is steep – check your brakes!

Getting home: Either ride back the way we came or continue to East Grinstead Station (another 1.5 miles). From here you can either get the train home via East Croydon (trains leave at 12 and 42 mins past each hour; journey time 90 minutes) or cycle the 8 miles to Three Bridges via the Worth Way. A round trip on the Bluebell is also possible for £16.50, leaving East Grinstead at 14:30 and arriving back at 16:41 … (oh dear, they haven’t coordinated timetables yet, have they?) Sunset is at 18:18 so there is time to ride to Three Bridges or Balcombe afterwards.

Jim.

Reminder  ride report to Roger at at hinton@clara.net


Special report: 5 Clarionettes Go Cycling in Cuba – February 2014

11 March 2014

Chavez

Our London-dwelling member, Amanda, won an 8-Day Cuba Highlights Cycling Holiday with Exodus in their online-competition & so Fred, Mick, her non-cycling husband Rob, & I, eagerly grabbed the chance to join her. Fred was nervous of the flights involved, I was petrified of the coach travel & Rob had good cause to be worried about the cycling as he was a complete novice plus using the trip to give up smoking.

Pio Cua, Australia!

We all met up at Gatwick for the flight to Madrid, as we had been bumped off the promised direct flight to Havana. Confronted by long delay at Madrid & hundreds [383] of tired, hot people we tried to find some food. We were all seated together on the Airbus & endured the 10.75hr flight, with mid-Atlantic turbulence, to arrive in Havana at 2 or 5am & eventually reach our hotel in Miramar much later. Once there, I was too het up to sleep but probably did a bit. More queues & waiting around at breakfast as it was huge hotel but lacked plates & cups.

Bus stop

Eventually we met the rest of our group & our guide, Tony, driver, Elise & bike mechanic, Ricardo. The lucky Virgin Direct Group all looked fitter than us, one was even planning to run a marathon in April in Gaza & training for it on the trip, an Australian couple & 3 younger, fitter single men, 1 of whom was Canadian doctor. I asked Fred to try to reserve me a seat at the front of the bus as I feared motion sickness & wanted to look at the horizon.

Clarionettes in Cuba

Mick was last on bus & nearly missed it. As we left the city I asked if I could sit in Ricardo’s place up front & was allowed. It still seemed a long 2 hours along the autopista until we arrived at the restaurant where we were to claim our bikes. All the bikes were the same Trek model but not all the cyclists were as fit as the athletes out in front! There were some long, straight, hot roads ahead before we stopped for a drink of water. Rob, Fred & I made the mistake of stopping for a photo by a revolutionary poster & thus were left even further behind. However, we had Ricardo as backstop & he gave us a welcome push to attempt to get us back up with the pack.

Anne and Mick at the Crocodile pool

The stop at the crocodile farm was all too brief & we cycled on another 10km before stopping for picnic lunch at a bay for a paddle then a swim among the snorkelers & divers. Back in the coach then for a visit to the near-by Bay of Pigs Museum celebrating the Cuban victory over the invading Americans. We saw humming birds in the gardens & heroes on the walls. Super hotel for 2nd night with huge array of food at buffet, brilliant show in the evening with opera-singers who also performed in the dining room, magnificent swimming pool & beautiful black & white swifts nesting in the eaves of the corridor by our bedrooms. Must have had some sleep that night.

Fran and Rob

The second day’s cycling started from the hotel & was more undulating & thus more fun. Fred & Rob took to the coach but Mick had been training me on the hills of Woodingdean & I soared along powered by bananas, chocolate halva & peanuts sold by the roadside vendors & given to us along with the water. We had lunch in a roadside inn & children riding bareback on a horse came to see us & show us their birds in a cage, probably hoping for a pen or sweets or cash for a photo opp. Next hotel was by a beautiful bay & we spent the afternoon swimming & relaxing on the beach while pigs, piglets & chickens foraged around us. After a super buffet supper an African/voodoo Show was promised. The witch doctor/santeria walked on glass, ate fire & lifted a petrified little boy on a table up in the air with his teeth. We had cabins in the grounds & were disturbed by mosquitos but otherwise enjoyed a good sleep & then a tasty, fruity, copious breakfast the next morning.

Villa Islazul Yaguanabo, Cienfuegos.

Next day we cycled to Trinidad, UNESCO Heritage Town & billed as a rest day. For us it was not to be though as our casa turned out anything but restful! Having had 2 single beds up till then we now had one small, bouncy double with single bed-linen & pillows that didn’t suit. The bathroom was tiny with toilet in the shower & basin with small dribble from the tap. There was a balcony but no view, only another part of the family; a boy with a howl & disruptive behaviour & then in the night, a grandfather coughing, retching & vomiting beneath us. We didn’t sleep.

Amanda and Anne

Next day there was a boat trip to an island or more cycling. As I was feeling fragile I stuck to dry land but the cycling was tough, due to a strong headwind & I found it hard to keep up with the pack of youngsters. Ricardo had to keep pushing me back into the pack but eventually I had to give up & take the coach. Would have liked to relax in a quiet room in the afternoon, but didn’t fancy the casa so joined the young people & 5 of us squashed into an ancient American car/taxi for the beach & had lunch & super swim in Caribbean. Met Mick from the boat but he was feeling ill too, so we missed the fun in the evening & had a calming vegetable soup & hard boiled eggs in another casa before another, slightly less disturbed night in the casa with granddad below & the young lad seeming to have caught the same bug! I believe the other 3 Clarionettes had one of their best evenings then sampling the music & paladar food of Trinidad.

Mick and Anne

The following day was billed as the best cycling of the trip as we took the coach up into the Escambray Mountains & disembarked an hour or two later to begin the trip to the next hotel at Lake Hanabilla. Corinne [who’d done the same trip a few years previously] had warned that the last climb was punishing but was glad I gave it a try & would have made it to the top had I not been told that there was another 4kms to go in the hot sun, when, in fact, we were almost there. Amanda was the last to take the coach. We both got on the coach to applause though, as only half of the group had made it to the top. Loved this new hotel. Swam in the pool, then in the lake with young Fran. We were helped into the water by the boat attendant & hauled back out again once we’d had our fill. Watched the TV in our room for the first time on the trip & relaxed. The coach took us to a nearby casa particular for our meal which we enjoyed outside while admiring the white cockerel asleep in the tree above us.

Hotel Hanabanilla, in the mountains

Next day it was off in the coach again to Santa Clara & the Che Mausoleum, which I loved. No time to see Santa Clara itself as we had to return to Havana & our hotel in Miramar. Was dreading the hours on the coach & not feeling like eating lunch at the restaurant in Australia, though the bean stew did make me feel a bit better. Cycling was over now & sight-seeing in Havana ended the trip. Once back at the hotel, was going for a swim but noticed that free salsa lessons were in progress by the pool so Mick & I joined in, unsuccessfully in my case. Had a morning walking tour with our guide in old Havana & left for the airport around 6pm. More delays & chaos till we finally sat on the airbus for the delayed flight to Madrid. We all congratulated ourselves that we made the connection for Gatwick & enjoyed the new Brazilian aircraft for the flight home, though when we arrived at Gatwick our cases were missing & we had to return to Brighton in our Cuba clothes – me in shorts in freezing queue for taxi at Brighton station – from 35C to 0C in 15hrs & same clothes. Was relieved that we had all returned unscathed. Had a lot of fun & enjoyed the Communist Caribbean, a fascinating cultural mix personified in our guide, part Chinese, part African, part Spanish, but brilliant English having never left Cuba & studied Beowolf in Anglo-Saxon at uni, along with Shakespeare etc.

Mick and Anne in big car park

Fred has written an excellent blog on the trip & there are photos on flickr.

I’d worried that we would suffer “left-wing melancholia” when experiencing the disenchantment of some Cubans with the socialist Utopia, as my Canadian friends had warned me from their trip in 2009 on the 50th anniversary of the Revolution. A Canadian cousin told us Cubans felt “caged” & I heard another guide say that they were not allowed to go on boats with their tourist charges, in case they tried to commandeer the boat away from Cuba. We were told not to give to beggars in the tourist spots as everyone was fed & housed, but really only saw one in Cienfuegos & no homeless people living on streets.

Anne and Mick at John Lennon statue

On our last night in Havana in a Buena Vista Social Club I loved the audience participation & joy from fellow South American countries – Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia etc Enjoyed an exhibition on Chavez in Havana too & seeing him described as “Our Greatest Friend” at the Che Museum. When I asked our guide about Obama’s handshake with Raoul Castro at Mandela’s funeral & contacts with Africa now he said that thousands of Cubans had died there & he did not want to go there. There was evidence of Chinese investment in Cuba in the road improvements, but China is building those roads in order to take out the Cuban nickel & other minerals. The politics is fascinating, the cycling was gorgeous – quiet, virtually empty roads with only bullock carts, pony traps & the occasional open sided bus or truck bus, the weather sunny 30-35C in Feb – some headwinds sometimes, wondrous beaches, copious food & super hotels. Our group was supportive & fun & the guide, driver & mechanic were all charming, fun & helpful. I know many Clarion members have been to Cuba & loved it & look forward to discussing with them on our local rides. It has been good to hear more of Tessa’s Vietnam cycling trip & Linda’s Moroccan cycling adventure. It just shows what a little gentle trundling round the Sussex countryside can lead to. Thanks to Amanda for the original invitation & support throughout & to Mick, Fred & Rob for enhancing the good bits & support in tricky moments!

Anne

[Lots more photos from Anne, Fred and other members of the party on Flickr]


The Last Ride: Sunday 9 March 2014 – Cuckoo Trail/Pevensey Levels

11 March 2014

The hottest day in England so far this year (temperatures reaching 20C in the South East) attracted 20 cyclists at the start of the 16-mile Cuckoo Trail and Pevensey Levels ride at Polegate station. This must surely be one of the largest groups ever to take part in an early March Clarion cycle ride. The weather was certainly a dramatic contrast with the recent wet and stormy conditions, which resulted in a couple of rides being cancelled. The Clarion twenty for Sunday’s ride were: Helen, Roger, Suzanne, Jenny, Joyce, Leon, Ian, Elaine, Mick, Anne, Amanda, Tessa, Sikka, Sue, Rob, Richard, Angela, Wilma, Nick and Julian.

March 9, 2014: Cuckoo Trail and Pevensey Levels

Although Beeching’s ideologically controversial 1963 decision to close the Cuckoo Line was a blow for train travel and public transport, the Cuckoo Trail on the route of the old railway line has become a popular route for cyclists (National Cycle Network Route 21) and walkers today. The unseasonably warm weather attracted more walkers and cyclists than usual to the Cuckoo Trail for our ride on Sunday. Reduced speed and more attention than usual was required as we shared the route with numerous ramblers, dog walkers and other cyclists.

March 9, 2014: Cuckoo Trail and Pevensey Levels

The leisurely pace adopted during the Cuckoo Trail ride was maintained throughout the rest of the ride. Many of us who hadn’t bothered cycling during the recent stormy weather rather approved of the undemanding route (without hills!) as our first cycle ride of the year.

March 9, 2014: Cuckoo Trail and Pevensey Levels

Although the Coopers Croft Garden Centre seemed like a strange choice of lunch stop initially, the Catkins Tea Rooms inside the garden centre’s grounds served some excellent soup, sandwiches and bowls of chips. The warm weather enabled us to sit outside with cups of tea and ginger beer (a particularly popular option). We were also able to add another bowl of chips to the expanding Clarion Flickr portfolio of food photographs.

March 9, 2014: Cuckoo Trail and Pevensey Levels

The garden centre’s potted plant sale proved irresistible for some of Sunday’s cyclists with large panniers or saddle bags. The collection of stone sheep sculptures were also popular, but we all recognised that cycling with a stone carving in our saddle bags might impede our progress as we cycled back to Polgate station.

March 9, 2014: Cuckoo Trail and Pevensey Levels

An impressive half moon in a clear blue sky accompanied our route back along the Cuckoo Trail, via the Pevensey Levels,  to the familiar tea stop of the Old Loom. It was possible to sit outside again for our second break of the day before cycling the final two miles to Polegate station.

Thanks to Ian for planning such an excellent ride on a day with perfect weather for cycling.

Nick

More photos on Flickr.