The Easter Meet

30 April 2014

Clarion trophies

The 119th Clarion Cycling Club Easter Meet took place this year at Beverley. It is a town with many claims to fame apart from being the county town of the East Riding of Yorkshire. Among the horse racing fraternity it is well-known for its race course. Those interested in British nineteenth century history recall that criminal malpractice during parliamentary elections there reached such heights that even parliamentarians, most of whom had at least dabbled a bit in bribery and corruption, were shocked into taking action. Shoreham in our own area was probably the other most notorious example (see below).


Devotees of gothic architecture go there for the magnificent Beverley Minster and, at the other end of the town, opposite the Beverley Arms hotel which served as this year’s HQ for the Clarion, the almost equally magnificent St Mary’s. The hotel itself is known among the literati for its appearance, thinly disguised as the Percy Standard, in Trollope’s “political” novel of 1871, Ralph the Heir which among other things dealt with election corruption based on Trollope’s experience as a Liberal condidate in Beverley – which appears as Percycross in the novel. The Beverley Arms was also the goal of many of Philip Larkin’s cycle trips from Hull. He always treated himself to a cream tea there. Opposite, in St Mary’s its white rabbit is, allegedly, the inspiration of the Lewis Carroll character. Much remains of the Georgian elegance of its fashionable 18th century past and the medieval gateway at the North Bar still survives.

The White Horse aka Nellies

The Brighton and Hove delegation – Bob, Fred, Sue and myself – were also delighted with a unique pub, conveniently near the hotel. Fred, who had done his research on such essential matters before leaving Brighton, had already flagged it up as well worth a visit – or two. Officially the White Horse, it is universally known – even in the local tourist information office – as “Nelly’s” (sometimes spelled “Nellies”) after a notable landlady of the past. The Samuel Smith beer at £1.80 a pint is certainly one of its attractions, but its singularity lies in the fact that it resisted – and long will continue to resist, one hopes – the trend of knocking everything into one open-plan bar and retains a labyrinth of comfortably sized small rooms all lit – and this is the most amazing bit – by gaslight.

Brighton Clarionettes

So, a good time was had by all. Only Bob, among the four of us, had remembered to take a bike and he did make an error, rather reminiscent of some of my own “exploits” by setting off a little late to catch up the other riders – but in the wrong direction. But all came out right in the end. The rest of your delegation confined themselves to more sedate activities such as the local history tour of the town.

North Bar Gate, Beverley

But serious business was not entirely neglected. At the AGM/conference one mystery was solved. Julian and others have asked me about the non-appearance of 2014 membership cards. It seems that the increase in national membership has made the membership secretary’s job – at least in the form it has been carried out – so onerous as to be almost impossible, and Donald Lever is stepping down in a few months time. It’s hoped that a solution will be found before then. This problem which may need paying for professional assistance if it is to be resolved, together with the costs of producing and sending out Boots and Spurs are the main reasons for the move to increase the membership fee by £2 p a. Our own AGM had instructed us to listen carefully to the arguments for the motion that proposed this with the expectation that the increase would probably need to be supported. At the conference the only opposition to the increase came from a minority that argued that a larger increase would be necessary to solve the outstanding issues and that the decision should be deferred until the costs were more precisely known. We listened, conferred, and cast our 28 votes – reflecting our membership as of the “cut-off point” of 5 April in favour of the motion.

In the words of our AGM minutes “It was agreed to ask the National Committee to consider extending the date for section AGMs by a month to 13 March” I had managed to sort this out before the Meet so there was no need to raise it formally at the conference. The next AGM is not till next year and this report is getting rather long so I’ll save further explanation till another time.

Bob was re-elected as Standing Order Secretary but there were many positions for which there were no volunteers. One can’t complain when one isn’t prepared to take something on oneself. But North Cheshire did say they would sort out the national website (for free) and our friends from the London section volunteered to have a serious look at the membership problem.

It was nice to see old friends from other Clarion sections, not least our friend – and fan of this newsletter – Peter Roscoe. We learnt – from others rather than Peter – of his exploit a few weeks ago on 30 March which took the form of abseiling down the Peel tower to raise money for charity. Peter said it was easy – he’d done it before. But that turned out to have been in the 1960s – not at the age of 79! Don’t miss this on YouTube.

Moves are now afoot to persuade him not to take up sky-diving.

One thing that was very noticeable was the preparations for and promotion of the first two stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire – even in parts of the county well away from the race route. Sue and I visited Wensleydale after the end of the Meet. The peleton will flash through Hawes in about 30 seconds on the 5 July and may miss the large banner welcoming them to the Wensleydale Creamery – which raises visions of Gromit contesting the sprint with Mark Cavendish et al at the end of the stage in Harrogate!


Beverley Minster

The Next Ride

24 April 2014

Sunday May 4 2014: Polegate Circular

Polegate – Rickney – Herstmonceux – Wartling – Pevensey – Polegate


This was originally intended as a bold plan to get from Polegate to Battle, thus satisfying both my love of the Pevensey levels and also my urge to explore new places. Unfortunately, on the practice ride, the ratio of undulations to availability of suitable lunch stops reached a critical level and I abandoned the plan, turning the ride into a circular instead. So there is unlikely to be much new terrain here, but we can enjoy the relatively flat and quiet lanes, the head-high grass, the swans, cows, and all that.

We’ll set off in a north-easterly direction through Rickney and then over New Bridge to Ginger’s Green (all together now: no it isn’t!), approaching Herstmonceux from the far side of the A271. We will have lunch at the Woolpack at Herstmonceux at about 1pm, then after half a mile of said A271 we will be back onto quiet lanes again.

A major problem in these parts is Herstmonceux Castle and the jobsworth security men who won’t let us ride through their grounds on the road, insisting that we use the bumpy, and possibly muddy, footpath instead. I’ve written to them to ask permission to use the road, pointing out that we are all of a certain age etc, but have not heard back yet. We can decide whether to do this on the day, the alternative being more A271 and a bit more of the scarcely pleasanter Wartling Road. The upside of using the path is that we get a pretty good view of the castle, the silvery Isaac Newton Dome and the Science Centre with its six verdigris domes. (Click here for a report of a Herstmonceux ride in 2011, complete with historical footnote on the castle by Ian. We have been that way more recently of course – in March this year, when we had lunch at the garden centre at Cooper’s Croft but did not venture north of the A271.)


Crossing Waller’s Haven at Horse Bridge, we scarcely reach Hooe before turning back towards Pevensey. Here begins a game of cat-and-mouse with the extremely dangerous A259, where I think we will have to act as traffic policemen to get across (three times in all). We’ll use the lane which presumably was the old A259 before it was straightened and widened, and snakes around its modern successor, with a few bits having fallen away altogether like ox-bow lakes. The last bit is a mile and a half of straight, overgrown, moss-covered road which crosses back over the Haven at Middle Bridge, where one gets a strangely Continental perspective of the canal sweeping away to the sea. This lane might be new to Clarionettes; I certainly don’t remember using it before. (I think, though, that we might want to lobby the local authority about putting more signage, cutting back vegetation, and providing islands in the dreaded superhighway to allow cyclists to get across alive).


The view from Middle Bridge

Then through Pevensey, with the Royal Oak as a possible tea stop, and a bit of NCN2/NCN21 to Polegate once more. Those wanting a shorter ride can peel off at Peelings Lane and get the train back from Pevensey & Westham station.

There will be lambs (two of which are pubs) and possibly bluebells.


Start at 11:00, Polegate Station. Take 10:20 train from Brighton (or get the earlier train at 9:20 and have a coffee with me at the Mill Coffee House at Polegate). Londoners can get the 9:47 from Victoria.

Length: 23 miles (18 if finishing at Pevensey & Westham)

Duration: About 6 hours including lunch and tea stops.

Return home from Polegate at 06 or 42 mins past the hour to Brighton; 06 mins past to London. (41 mins past from Pevensey & Westham).

Terrain: ¾ mile off-road section at Herstmonceux if agreed (see above). Otherwise hard surfaces. Three short ascents: 15m in 250m (1 in 17), 20m in 250m (1 in 13), 35m in 500m (1 in 15). Otherwise flat.



The Last Ride – David’s Report

24 April 2014

Sunday 20 April 2014  (Easter Sunday) – Hassocks to Lewes

Another dire weather forecast for rain and a chill wind, and others with family commitments for Easter Sunday, I suppose it was not surprising that only Tessa, Sikka and David ventured out to Hassocks station for this ride to Wivelsfield for lunch and on to Lewes for tea. With such a small group, we were able to take the first Clarion ‘selfie’ at the station before we set off.


The first Clarion “selfie”

We then shot off eastwards with great enthusiasm and sped through Keymer and on to Ditchling, where having pedalled ourselves a substantial one and a half miles, we decided we needed a well-deserved break and nipped into the Ditchling Tea Rooms for coffee and croissants. The management very kindly opened the adjoining garage so that we could store our bikes whilst we plotted the next part of our ride.

By this time, light rain had begun to fall, so we decided not to take the new off-road track to Streat, but carry on up Spatham Lane, turning east after Blackbrook Wood, before rejoining our originally-planned route North past the American Farm to the Cock Inn in Wivelsfield Green, where the welcoming publican invited us to hang our dripping weather gear over the chairs in the Public Bar.

Having now cycled more than six miles, David decided he needed to try a pint of Harvey’s Georgian Dragon Ale, an intensely hoppy, ruby ale that was first brewed in April 2010 for St.Georges Day. The interesting label on the beer tap actually commemorates a lesser known hero, Dr Gideon Mantell, locally believed to be the original Father of Paleontology. This respected Lewes Doctor has become regarded as the person responsible for clearly identifying the prehistoric reptiles we today refer to as ‘dinosaurs’. It is understood that the label depicts Dr Mantell discovering his Iguanodon near Cuckfield, in Sussex in 1821.

Tessa and Sikka had pre-ordered the lamb roast, but when it arrived ‘bleu’, Sikka decided to ask for it to be a little more ‘bien cuit’ and was appreciatively presented with a whole new meal cooked perfectly to taste. David tried the fish pie, which was stuffed full of succulent salmon with five-a-day on the side. Over the meal, we discussed transitional towns, community alternative energy schemes and the lost generation of professional engineers.


Lunchtime Downpour

The plan was now to head off for afternoon tea at the French café on Cliffe High Street in Lewes, via Cooksbridge, Hamsey and Offham, where David’s support team (aka Terri) would meet him to go home by car. On stepping outside the pub into the pouring rain, new plans were hatched, and discretion being the better part of valour, we simply headed back the way we came to the welcome warmth of the Ditchling Tea Rooms, arriving quite drowned, just as Terri was parking her car at the bus stop just outside.


Tea with Terri

Pots of tea, coffee, granola bars, chocolate cake and scones soon replenished our energy levels, leaving Tessa and Sikka to cycle the last mile back to Hassocks, and David with just time to sling his bike onto the back of the car before a traffic warden arrived to dampen the day even more.

Thanks to Tessa and Sikka for a fun Easter day out.




24 April 2014

Dear All

Ian is away at the Clarion Easter meet so I am circulating this newsletter.  Well organised, as ever, Ian has provided most of the content apart of course from the next ride details from Jim and the report of the last ride from David.

As on so many occasions in the past Jim has come forward to save the day.  So there will be a ride on 4 May in spite of earlier fears to the contrary.  We’ve also had other offers, so we now have rides planned up to 15th June, which is excellent news – many thanks to all involved.

Needless to say the weeks speed by so if you’ve got an idea for a future ride, please let Ian know the date and short description, checking train availability first if relevant.


                    *          *          *

What should I bring on a ride?    Someone asked me this a few weeks back. Well, when I’m the ride leader I always bring along my full bike repair kit – even though I’m a bit hazy on how to use some of the gadgets.  But that’s too much when you’re “just along for the ride.”

Always wear gloves or mitts and bring something to put on in case of rain – whatever the forecast says.   There are lots of things that can go wrong with a bike – and more that can go wrong with its rider – but the most common mishap is the puncture.

So make sure you’ve got tyre levers, a spanner that fits any wheel nuts that aren’t quick release, a spare tube to put in and a pump to blow it up.  I don’t recommend trying to actually repair punctures by the side of the road.  It can take an age to find a minute hole without a handy bowl of water and these are in short supply in country lanes.

If you’re unlucky enough to have a puncture on a Clarion ride you can rely on getting lots of help – but not on anyone else having the right size tube for your wheel or a pump that fits your tyre valve.

                    *          *          *

This will have a limited appeal but Liz Davies has written to me as follows:

I am organising a bike event this Summer called The Ultimate Brighton to Paris Cycling Challenge. I was just wondering if you think anyone in the Brighton and Hove Clarion Cycling Club might be interested? Would it be possible for you to promote this event to the members?

The ride is in aid of Brighton homelessness charity ‘BHT’ and is an endurance 130 mile bike ride, from Brighton to the Eiffel Tower from dawn to dusk on the longest day of the year. It will be a challenge but should be fun too!

There is more information about the event here:

                     *          *          *

Tessa’s Open House.   As usual Tessa and friends are participating in the Festival open house scheme. For some reason my attempts to copy and paste the details from her email have failed completely but you can get them from Tessa at

38 Lorne Road, Hove will be open from 11 to 6 at weekends and bank holidays throughout May


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 156. More Club reports

24 April 2014

156 More Club reports (from Clarion 16 May 1896)


The meet at Bakewell will be long remembered by the Liverpool contingent, which numbered over a dozen During the month of April we have visited various; places in the district, our; propaganda work consisting in the distribution of leaflets and our local; paper the Labour Chronicle at the cottages and to pedestrians.  On Sunday April 26, we forgathered with the Potteries CC at Knutsford, 15 attending the run. The inter-club runs are good business. A cycle parade is to be held here in June, and our Clarion C, C will l take part, and with the aid of the Liverpool Socialist brass band and fancy costumes, we expect to paralyse the natives. Our position, financially and otherwise, is sound, new members continue to roll in, a lady member amongst them.  Saturdays meet headquarters at 4 30 pm, Sundays meet headquarters at 10. a.m. for Lancashire runs. For Cheshire runs landing stage 2 30 p.m.  Impromptu runs from headquarters every Monday and Wednesday evenings.

W BEVAN, Hon Sec Wigan

The Wigan Clarion C.C has reformed this season, and is now based on rules in accordance with those drawn up at Ashbourne. We have nine members, all good and true, and more in prospect, all that is wanted being machines. We have no intention of setting the Douglas on fire, “, but as every little helps”, we mean to contribute our mite as we go along in the shape of leaflets, “Merrie England”* &c On Saturday May 9 we journeyed to Winwick, and met Manchester, Bolton, and Liverpool Scouts. After a photograph was taken of the large gathering and an open air concert arranged, Manchester, Bolton and Liverpool comrades giving excellent songs and recitations, but the gem of the evening was a song “There is a flower that bloometh” by Comrade Crow, who has a sweet tenor voice and knows how to use it. The evening closed with “Auld Lang Syne” then home. We “Wigans” were highly; pleased with our out and don’t care how soon we have a similar one and” many of them. “


Next time. Even more Clarion club reports


* As you may recall, this was Blatchford’s 1893 book advocating socialism, which was based on articles first appearing in the Clarion.  It was translated into many languages – including Welsh – and is reckoned to have sold nearly a million copies worldwide.

The Next Ride: Sunday 20 April 2014  (Easter Sunday) – Hassocks to Lewes

8 April 2014

We will catch the 10.44 train to Hassocks (buy return tickets to Hassocks) arriving just before 11am.

As it is Easter Sunday we have planned an early lunch at Wivelsfield to avoid the crowds. Menus will be handed out on the train and lunch orders phoned through to the pub before we set off from Hassocks.

We head off through Keymer  to Ditchling then turn left on Spatham Lane.

After a few yards we turn right onto an offroad track (weather permitting). A good easy surface for most of the way, there is a short section that some may choose to walk.

Arriving at Streat we turn left and head towards Wivelsfield on a small road that gently undulates.

The Cock Inn is our lunch stop where we plan to arrive between 12-12.30.

After lunch we set off for Lewes avoiding Plumpton Green, arriving at Cooksbridge where we take a small road to Hamsey then Offham. Arriving there we cycle the pavement of the busy A275 (the law having clarified that where it is dangerous to use the road, its ok to cycle on the pavement) before turning left into Lewes for tea.

Trains to Brighton: 06, 19, 44 past the hour.

Lunch details
On our practice ride we asked the pub to email me the menu so that we could all preorder (it being a busy day).

We will distribute  printouts of it on the train to Hassocks on the day,but would encourage people to make a decision beforehand. We will be phoning through our orders from the station carpark.

Please  phone Tessa on 01273 777574  if you are definitely planning to come on the ride so the pub can be alerted about numbers, beforehand.

Tessa & Sikka


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 6 April 2014 – Burgess Hill and Borde Hill

8 April 2014

The weather forecasts were dire – “heavy rain” and the Brighton Marathon was to complicate travel to the station, but we’d already cancelled this ride once, so we proceeded early for the allotted 10.00am train. 

We managed the first crossing of London Rd section of marathon route successfully but then were held up for 20 minutes as thousands of runners, hemmed in by metal fencing, trooped along Jubilee St to New Road. The two stewards by the crossing point were sympathetic, but pointed out that the runners had been training for months for this & we were unlikely to  be able to catch that train! Fortunately one mentioned a gap & Mick & I shot across, raced to ticket office, where Mick again told of our plight to the lady in front of us & was allowed passage. We both ran to platform 4 & joined the right train with only seconds to spare. 

Sue had also had problems. She had to race along with the runners & her bike in order to cross the lines!  

5 Clarionettes alighted ahead of us on the train & were surprised to see us! A young man with wife & baby volunteered to take the group photo at the station as we debated how much wet gear to put on before the start.


We trailed through suburban Burgess Hill until we hit Gatehouse Lane & relaxed at the lack of traffic, the joy of birdsong & spring blossom. As we headed north the lanes began to undulate. There was some dismounting, brief explorations of the surrounding woods with a chance to pick some wild garlic for tea & opportunities for David to practice falling off his bike onto soft grass, as he was trying out new pedals, shoes & cleats. We passed a pony & rider & then, on an uphill section, pony & rider passed us at barely a trot. A few more roads & few more undulations [or, it has to be admitted, climbs] & we were north of Cuckfield without rain & warm from the exercise.


Once in the grounds of Borde Hill Gardens we had superb views of surrounding countryside, even a few early, pink rhodedendrons & I spotted a dodo inside the grounds near the ruined house.


Food at the Elvira Cafe was enjoyed by all. There were cakes [pear & almond & lemon polenta] & ale [Harvey’s Prince of Denmark], I had spinach soup, Mick had rabbit, Leon & Joyce had quiches, David & Julian had fishcake [1 each] & Sue had a super kids roast.


Although most of us had thought we would make an early exit at Haywards Heath station due to being soaking wet, it turned out dull but dryish, so 5 of us decided to return to Burgess Hill, having been warned off Wivelsfield by Jim & Sue, who remembered it had a difficult flight of steps to platform. Joyce & Leon kept to the plan of returning from Haywards Heath & we bade them goodbye near Lindfield, continued through that pretty village & enjoyed Slugwash Lane. Even before reaching Slugwash Lane, Sue & I were lucky enough to see a weasel run in front of Sue & dart across the road with a vole in its mouth. No pics unfortunately, but shared joy.


Due to a misunderstanding between Mick (who had planned to turn right at the bottom of Slugwash Lane) & Leon (who suggested a left turn) we took a wrong turn  & ended up with Sue standing underneath a sign that said “Burgess Hill”, me saying we should turn right & Mick [our leader], maintaining that we turn left. Julian & I were disappointed that we couldn’t just catch a train now, partly as he feared that he had lost his i-phone whilst cycling in the morning & had a dinner engagement in the evening back up near where we were But we all followed our leader who didn’t stop until it was quite obvious that we were almost into Ditchling!


Sue gallantly pointed out that it was now only a short ride to Hassocks station but us moaners suspected that there would be a long wait at Hassocks.

In the centre of Ditchling, Mick left us as he wanted to cycle home as more miles needed for training for a Friday Night Ride to the Coast Ride in 2 weeks time.The remaining 4 of us arrived at the station only to see an 8 carriage train pulling out on its way to Brighton! Assembled on the platform we puzzled over the digital display which said that next Brighton train would be in 1 minutes time! Had it left early? If so we were in for a half an hour’s wait. No, another train pulled up, so previous mirage must have been late, unless trains were now running every few minutes to Brighton to cater for Marathon traffic. We gratefully piled on the train.

 All agreed that All’s Well that Ends Well &, fortunately, Julian even found that his phone, was, in fact, safely waiting for him at home. Mick still managed to arrive home before me, after cycling up Ditchling Beacon. All agreed we’d had another grand day cycling with the Clarion.

More pics on Flickr.



8 April 2014

Dear fellow members 7 April 2014

I haven’t long been back from holiday – so this newsletter is a little on the sparse side. Thanks to Roger for holding the fort while I was in Italy.

Unless I’ve missed something – please email me at once if I have – we have no one to take on the 4 May ride. I can’t “backstop” this one. So, unless there is a volunteer (and ride details) in the next week and a half there won’t be anything to report, ride-wise, in the next issue. I’m going to be away (“What, again!”) for the next issue which Roger will be putting out so it’s best if you send those details both to Roger and to me and Send the ride report for Tessa’s and Sikka’s ride to Roger.

* * *
Jim emails me to say:

On the last ride, someone (Suzanne?) mentioned that Boots & Spurs had published the membership stats for all the sections, including gender breakdown, and we were almost unique in having equal numbers of men and women (actually 23:22). Only one other section (Yorkshire Coast) has equal numbers, and they only have 16 members! The overall % of women members nationally is just 17%, ours is 49%. Something to be proud of!

Quite right. And our gender balance is reflected in those who take on the tasks of active membership such as organising rides and “socials”, writing reports and so on.

* * *

If you’re in the google group you will have already seen Fred’s message about “A Passion for Rationals” [Friends Meeting House 3-5 May] which I mentioned in the last newsletter after Bob drew my attention to it.

Cycling on Pavements
Responding to Suzanne’s letter, Mick said that he “totally disagrees” with what she said. Reading it, I did wonder about the world “totally.” Mick’s defence of pavement riders excluded those doing so “carelessly or recklessly” – precisely the people Suzanne was condemning. Mick goes on to say that “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.” But if I’m injured by someone on a bike – as I nearly have been on more than one occasion while walking on the pavement – it is not that much consolation if they get their comeuppance in court. Better, surely, to try as Suzanne says, “to change the ethos” so it becomes unacceptable to ride in such a way.

I suggest there are just two rules which need to be observed

1. Riding on pavements should be avoided; it should be a very rare exception.

2. If you do ride on a pavement you get off and walk if there is anyone walking ahead of you or towards you.

And on a different but related issue I picked this up from the CTC’s “Cycle Clips”

Another CTC member challenging the status quo is John Sugden, a transport consultant who has represented CTC at public inquiries. Cycling on footpaths – as opposed to pavements or footways – has long been considered a trespass. But John argues that a 15-year-old legal judgment could mean that ‘reasonable’ cycling is permitted on any footpath, unless it has been specifically excluded.


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 155. Advice from Swiftsure

8 April 2014

Swiftsure was always very willing to give, or to pass on advice on anything to do with bikes and cycling.  Here’s a couple of examples from “Cycling Notes” in the 16 May 1896 Clarion. You can judge for yourself how relevant – or otherwise – they are to cycling today

In a recent issue of the Paris edition of the New York Herald, there appeared some excellent advice on how to ride properly and safely in busy towns and thoroughfares. Much of the advice has been given several times in this column; and the most important item worth repeating is the advice given by M Leon Tarnout – to use the bell or whistle seldom or never, to always keep ten yards behind or before a vehicle, and to travel at a pace which will permit a dismount in almost a moment. Particular stress is also laid on the necessary ability to dismount backwards.

*         *       *

I believe regular town riders would welcome a police regulation that required a cyclist never to ride at a faster pace than six or eight miles an hour within certain confines of the city. It is positively a nuisance and a danger to steady riders, who know what pace is, to be continually subjected to the erratic movements and rushing about indulged in by so many who have just found they can travel at some speed.

Next time. More Clarion club reports