The Next Ride: Sunday 29th June 2014

21 June 2014

Cuckoo Trail Summer Meander

Polegate – Abbotts Wood – Arlington – Ripe – Berwick – Polegate

Distance: Approx 18 miles.

Hills: None to speak of.

Off road: a couple of shortish sections at Oggs Lane and Hempstead Lane. Should be suitable for all but the skinniest-tyred roadworthy bikes but can be muddy if there has been recent rain.

Meet: 10.55 outside Polegate Station

Trains: 10.20 from Brighton; 9.47 from London Victoria. Returns to Brighton approximately half hourly: 15.42, 14.06 etc.


The Last Ride: Kent Weekend, 14-15 June 2014

21 June 2014

In the true spirit of fellowship, this report has been produced by a relay team of four Clarionettes, passing the baton at each break.

Saturday Morning (Tessa)

The Crab and Winkle Way from Canterbury to Whitstable started on the doorstep of the Victoria Hotel where seven Clarionettes had spent the night, Corinne having stayed with friends and Jim arriving on the morning train. Angela, Anne, Corinne, Joyce, Jim, Leon, Mick, Sue and Tessa set off just after 11am. It was gently uphill through a few suburban streets till we hit the track itself. Skies were overcast but we stopped by a wheatfield for a beautiful view of the cathedral and the town. Kent lived up to its name of being the ‘breadbasket of England’ on this track. As well as wheat, we passed barley, broad beans, cherry trees and hops.

The track led us through the University campus halls of residence and sports grounds into Blean woods. The board outside the 13th century church of St Cosmus and Damien told us it had been the site of a Roman villa’s chapel which around 598AD had been dedicated, by monks accompanying St Augustine to Britain, to those two saints. The track was also a salt route between Seasalter marshes and Whitstable.


We stopped to talk to a group of lads on bikes festooned with England flags. They had stopped for beer and loud music (Rolling Stones) at a picnic area on the site of a railway winding engine. There was camaraderie and group photos before we continued downhill through the woods. We stopped again and were aware of a multitude of birdsong, Leon recognising them all.


Along the track there were carvings of crabs and shells on gateposts and even one of a cyclist having his bum nipped by a crab! We met the woodcarver, Peter at one of the gates. He was a Sustrans volunteer and he was clearing the overgrown path for us! Corinne’s friend Sheila who we had met the night before, was also a volunteer and had told him a party of cyclists from Brighton were on their way.


Peter in conversation with Sikka and Mick

The last part of the trail which led us into Whitstable was called the Invicta Way named after a famous steam train. On arrival at the harbour we divided, some to eat at a seafood restaurant, others to continue along the coast for a mile to Tankerton for lunch in the Royal pub.

Saturday Afternoon (Sikka)

Leon, Joyce, Tessa and Sikka left other members of the group settling down to have lunch at the harbour and made their way to The Royal, a pub on the Tankerton Slopes at the Eastern end of Whitstable. Corinne had made her way there expecting to meet with us after she shot ahead of the group in the morning while we were having lingering ‘Clarion moments’ with the cycling boys, and Peter the Sustrans volunteer. They had lunch here, some sampling locally caught fish. Very tasty.

After lunch, all assembled at the Royal before heading off back to Whitstable centre and the beach, unaware that Corinne’s chain had stuck fast, and needed all Tessa’s ingenuity, allen key and brute force (nothing personal, Tessa) to extricate it. Meanwhile Sikka watched admiringly, not wanting to get her hands dirty.

All together again back on the seafront, we passed 2-storey wooden fishing huts for hire at only £75 a night, and peered into a hut on the pebbles advertising Biennueve – a local arts festival which was in full swing.

We all divided for a while to visit galleries and charity shops. Corinne was pleased to find a bookshop she knew when she was studying at Kent University, and purchased a ‘bargain’ book. Tessa and Angela visited the museum and heard recordings of ‘screaming choirboys’ which they anticipate will linger in the memory! Jim met up with old friends Chris and Hilary who now live in Whitstable but were colleagues in the Brighton Labour Party, and who were also known to Ann and Mick. Ann found a bench dedicated to Brian Haw, the CND protester.


l-r Hilary, Mick, Anne, Chris


The Brian Haw Bench

While Leon and Joyce chose to make a leisurely return to Canterbury early so as not to feel hurried, the rest of us paused for hot drinks at Zizzi’s cafe. We then made our way back along the Crab and Winkle trail which was so well-signposted we were able to split up into ones and twos and make our own way each at their own pace.

Sunday Morning (Leon)

The days had been very warm and sunny up until now, but with bright but overcast skies and a brisk northeasterly breeze we set out in ones and twos to arrive at Canterbury West railway station only a short distance from the Victoria Hotel where we all were staying.

The station had been refurbished and subsequently had lifts to platform two, making the transition almost effortless. The short journey to Margate went well with space for all nine bikes despite not having a cycle compartment.

Arriving at Margate we quickly assembled and made our way to the Turner/Mondrian art exhibition on the seafront.


Another exhibit – the little pots by Edmund de Waal (best observed while lying down, apparently)

I can’t comment on what others felt about the paintings, but because we arrived just in time for a free guided tour, all was explained to a group of about twenty people by a very helpful woman with a quiet voice. I like to think of such voices as a fart in a hurricane.

My impression of the art was that as we progressed from what was something that can be recognized as a seascape or landscape to paintings of fog or coloured chess boards, not for me I’m afraid.

Then a snack in the adjacent cafe and at 12.00 hours we set out toward Herne Bay with a wonderful following breeze.


leaving Margate

Sunday afternoon (Jim)

It was like Lord of the Rings: nine riders speeding westwards from Margate in search of … Vikings? We were on the Viking Trail after all, or maybe it was the Oyster Trail and we were looking for Oysters? Who cares? (Well, it turned out to be important – see below).

For the first three miles we were on a lovely flat, wide, concrete promenade with hardly anyone about. The sea was lashing and crashing against the sea wall and sometimes spilling over, so if anyone had forgotten to have a shower in the morning, they could get one now. In some places there were rows of beach huts and even the odd café. There were some brave canoeists in the sea, and even a man swimming.


I was fascinated by the many bricked-up openings in the weathered cliff face. A few were not bricked up, and revealed mysterious steps disappearing into the cliff; some were more like slipways; a few were open “gullies”. I imagine they were once used by fishermen to access or launch their boats, but were made redundant by the building of the prom, or more likely by the decline of the fishing industry or the move to bigger boats.


At Reculver (which the Romans knew as Regulbium) there was a ruined fort and church. In Roman times there was a seaway to the east of here called the Wantsum channel, and the Isle of Thanet really was an island. The Wantsum gradually silted up and the resulting marshland was drained, so that by 1600 Thanet was part of the mainland. With global warming, though, I couldn’t help wondering how long it will be before it is once more an island.


After Reculver we turned inland along a lane, following blue signs. The lane contained some undulations – the first of the ride – and also seemed to be going in the wrong direction; when a large dual carriageway (A299) loomed up, we consulted the maps and found that we had indeed taken the wrong path. (Leon: “It makes the report more interesting!”)


Back to the seafront, up hill and down again, and we discovered that we had opted for Vikings instead of Oysters: the Viking Trail goes back to Margate, making it circular, while the Oyster Trail continues westwards along the seafront. But – and this had been our downfall – both routes had the same number, NCN15! We all agreed that this was Not a Good Idea, and hoped that somehow our friends in Sustrans could be lobbied about it. (Think of the chaos that would ensue if roads were similarly numbered; e.g. if all roads in East Sussex were called the A23 …)

We were no longer on the prom, though. The trail went over the headland instead of round it, so more hills; also it was grassy, with only a thin path that was easily cyclable-on, where plastic netting had been laid. It led to some quiet roads, and eventually back to the seafront. On the way we stopped to read a plaque about “Local Heroes” with metal outline statues: a Roman woman, an oyster fisherman, and a Dambuster. (No Vikings here).


We also spotted a young Collared Dove sitting on a signpost.


As we continued towards Herne Bay, we noticed a strange structure out to sea. It looked like the end of a pier, but where was the pier? It turns out (thanks to Wikipedia) that this is the landing-stage end of a very long pier (1154 metres) that was destroyed in a storm in 1978, leaving just the landing stage and a stub at the land end.


Finally we came to King’s Hall (opened in 1913, and named in honour of King Edward VII). Importantly for us, they did food – since mealtimes had been slightly chaotic, with some having eaten at Margate and some not. As it was now about 4pm, the hall was a welcome sight, and we were soon tucking into panini, rolls, baked potatoes, and in one case a croissant salvaged from breakfast. The conversation was mainly about i-phones, i-pads, i-pods and operating systems, and might as well have been in Danish for all it meant to me – in fact perhaps it was, as there was talk of a Danish ride next year.

Then came the Breaking of the Fellowship, to continue the Tolkien analogy. Four keen cyclists – Anne, Mick, Sikka and Tessa – opted to cycle on to Whitstable and Canterbury, a further 10 miles. Five wimps – Angela, Corinne, Joyce, Leon and myself – content with a 15 mile tally, limped to Herne Bay station, which was the last station on the line to be served by trains, as there were engineering works in progress. (Yes, around those parts they do actually call it engineering work rather than the Orwellian “improvement work”). We waited for our train in the company of some strange creatures who had attended a “Sci-Fi By the Sea” convention.

The other four got off at Canterbury to collect their things from the hotel, but as I already had all my stuff I stayed on to Ashford. There had been some debate about whether we’d actually get to Brighton with our bikes, as it was the day of the London-Brighton ride and Southern had imposed a “blanket ban” (but only on blankets, it turned out – bikes were OK, and I got on the Brighton train without difficulty). Tessa, Sikka and Corinne were on the following train, an hour later. There must have been a jinx on us, because Tessa left her pannier on the train (and had not got it back at the time of writing) and I had a rather strange experience, as I will now relate.

I have often poked fun (mentally) at people who sit right next to their bikes on the train, seeing it as overprotective and possessive. On this journey I was to find out why they do this, and was forced to eat my (virtual) words. When I got off at Brighton, my bike sounded “clunky”. Assuming I had a loose rear wheel, I looked down only to discover that there was nothing holding the wheel on! The quick-release lever, the nut on the other side, and the spindle joining them, had been removed. Casting my mind back, I recalled that some young louts had got on at one point, and had sat near my bike; I had heard one of them beeping my horn, but ignored it.


I was, of course, extremely lucky to notice this and realise my bike was unroadworthy. Had I ridden home, I might have lost the wheel, and much more. Quite how anyone can consider that sabotaging the bike of an unknown person (I was sitting half a carriage away) so that it becomes potentially lethal, is a fun thing to do, is utterly beyond me. It is indeed a sick world we live in. Be warned!

Thanks to Angela for a great weekend – from the Canterbury Nine!


21 June 2014

Dear All

Amanda to the Rescue!

I can’t complain about the response to my “Final Appeal” for someone to take on the next ride.  Problem was that most of those who sent messages were in a similar postion as me = otherwise engaged on  the 29th.  But the problem was solved by Amanda who replied immediately but at that stage didn’t have a definite ride in mind.  Since then Roger has “bagged” the 13 July and Jim is looking at a ride that might involve our London Clarion friends for 27July.  Offers for  August, September etc now very welcome

Message from Fred

I’m selling my top-end Freego folding e-bike (not the one that had mechanical problems on the Hassocks ride!), with the souped up 36V 16Ah battery which offers a theoretical range of 65 miles. Hardly used, £699 ono, cost over a grand new, two years old. Recently had the electronics serviced at Saddlesoar in Shoreham. Telephone 01273 697962 or email me. Photo and full spec on request.


With the Kent Weekend report – which I am going to try to edit down to a length suitable to offer  for the next Boots and Spurs , I think that’s enough for this time


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s

21 June 2014

160 Rochdale club report

But before that: somehow or other, the final bit of Swiftsure’s advice on touring got left out of the last edition. It should have read

“It is a good plan when touring to carry a spare tube, A sudden burst or bad puncture may make a spare tube come in most sueful.. A good supply of strong rubber and solution is also a necessary part of one’s outfit when touring.”

Still true

Now – Rochdale CCC report from 7 June 1896

Rochdale On Saturday July 11th, the Rochdale I.L.P. give their third annual treat to Cinderella children in a field adjoining Oakenrod Hall Farm. Upwards of 50 poor children will be provided with a substantial meal of buns, coffee and milk. The children will be selected from the very poorest in the town, irrespective of creed or nationality.At 2 30 pm the children will start from the Labour Hall, Water Street, headed by the Rochdale Old Band, and will proceed  (street route) to the field. The Rochdale and District Clarion Cycling Club will take part in the procession, and we mean to do all in our power to give a few hours of pleasure to the poor little children who, alas, all too rarely see a green field or a pure blue sky , and in many cases have not enough to eat. Should the weather prove unfavourable the treat will take place at the I.L.P.Rooms, Water Street.  H Fielding.

Next time: Report from Nottingham

The next ride: 14-15 June, Kent weekender

3 June 2014

Saturday 14 June
The first ride is from Canterbury to Whitstable and back, along the NCR1, ‘The Crab and Winkle Way’, which is 15 miles as an all round trip.

The cycle route starts from Canterbury West Station, which is a 5 mins ride for those staying at the Victoria Hotel and a 9 mins ride for those staying at the Youth Hostel.

11am meet at Canterbury West Station
1pm arrive in Whitstable.

I have estimated 2 hrs for the 7.5mile ride so that we may have time to view the 13th century church of St Cosmus and St Damian and also to take in the delights of Blean Woods, an RSPB nature reserve.

1pm – 4pm lunch and sight-seeing in Whitstable

We could either have a sandwich lunch on the beach if it is a nice day or at a pub, ‘The Royal’, which is right on the seafront and has reasonably priced food with a good vegetarian selection.

I have estimated times so that we could visit Whitstable’s Museum and Gallery which has both permanent and touring exhibitions. We may also wish to go for a stroll along the Saxon Shore Way and the cliff-top lawns of the Tankerton Slopes with their colourful wooden beach huts and which offers a great view of ‘The Street’ – a narrow shingle ridge stretching half-a-mile out to sea at low tide.

4pm – 5.30pm return to Canterbury

Sunday 15 June
Margate to Swalecliffe, ‘The Oyster Bay Trail’, 15 miles.

10.30am Meet Canterbury West Station
10.39am Train to Margate arriving 11.10am
11.10am – 3pm Visit Turner Contemporary or the famous Shell Grotto and have lunch either on the beach or at one of the many pubs or eating places in the locality.
3pm – 6pm Cycle Margate to Reculver – 8 miles
Reculver to Swalecliffe – 7miles

Return from Swalecliffe to Canterbury either by bike along the Crab and Winkle Way,making a round trip of 24 miles, or by train to Canterbury West Station.

Please feel free to comment or make suggestions for any changes for the weekend.

Contact Angela if you still need any details:

The Last Ride: Sunday 1st June 2014 Hassocks – Plumpton – Wivelsfield

3 June 2014

The first day of June brought blue skies, sunshine and a near record number of Clarion cyclists to Hassocks station: Angela, Angelica, Ann, Chris (on his first Clarion ride), Corinne, Fred, Helen (our leader), Ian, Jenny, Martin (also a first timer), Mick, Nick, Rob, Roger, Sean, Sue and Tessa.

Hassocks start

Fred was riding his most recently acquired bike – an electrically assisted machine on its first Clarion outing. Just as we were setting off he discovered a fault, not anything that a simple twist of a spanner could solve, but a split in a place where splits definitely shouldn’t be. So he had to abandon us and jump on the train back to Brighton – tough luck Fred! [A mechanical problem – The bottom bracket had worked loose! – Fred]

June 1, 2014: Hassocks - Wivelsfield – Plumpton

So sixteen of us sped up and down the country lanes to Plumpton. Here we discovered that Nick had left us for another engagement. Meanwhile Jane joined us for the last few miles to the Cock Inn at Wivelsfield Green, where the prompt service, well prepared food and re-arrangeable garden seating were all much appreciated.


On to Ditchling where our leader presented us with a choice:

  1. a visit to the museum
  2. or a visit to Oldland Mill where, it was rumoured, tea and cakes could be had for a reasonable price
  3. or both!

After due deliberation the vote was in favour of number 2, even though Helen had warned us that getting to the mill would involve a hill.


I don’t think she mentioned the muddy track which came after the hill. So I won’t mention it either, except to say that most people wisely walked, slipped and scrambled along it, rather than trying to ride.

Once we emerged from the mud, we found that the rumours about tea and cakes were true, and it was possible for those with any strength left in their legs to climb up into the mill and learn about its inner workings.

Many thanks to Helen for a great day out!


[More photos at Flickr]


3 June 2014

Dear All

I began the last newsletter “We’re still open for offers to lead rides from 29 June onwards.  Anyone interested?” Apparently not.  Well, not so far.  At that stage I anticipated that I’d be able to act as back-stop for 29 June.  But I now find  that  I’m going to be in the Netherlands that day; bit far to come back to lead a ride. So I must renew the appeal for volunteers.

I’m aiming to have the next newsletter out – assuming that there is  a “next ride” to advertise – on Wednesday 18 June complete, I hope, with reports from the Kent Weekend.

Message from Caroline – small tandem for sale

I have a Dawes Duet tandem for sale.. It is a 16 inch front and 13 inch rear kiddyback mountain bike so good for child up to about 5ft 3 inches. I am asking £495.00 but open to offers. It is in good condition with rack and skirt guard.

Anyone interested please get in touch with Caroline at who will send you a photo and any further details  you might need.

Accommodation in the Dieppe area

I’ve also recently had this message from Anne-Marie Bur. Sounds like it might suit anyone looking for a temporary base in the Normandy countryside.

Over the last few years a number of cyclists have stayed in our house in Offranville, 7km from Dieppe, and have suggested that it might appeal to other cyclists. Offranville is on a spur of the Avenue Verte, which goes all the way to Forges-les-Eaux. You can cycle all the way to the beach at Pourville on cycle paths. Our family has had this house since the seventies – it is not modernised but has all the basic facilities and a great fireplace. We charge just enough to pay the bills – £300 a week any time of year ( we don’t charge more in summer than winter). It’s not a commercial initiative but we do like to have people staying there – no point in having a house that’s not used and we do need to pay the annual costs and repairs so we charge enough to cover those costs.


PS We have a very basic website:

Finally, some items you may have missed from the CTC’s “Cycle Clips” including one of local interest.

How do you combine the Great British Bake Off with cycling? In preparation for this year’s  Brighton Breezy Randonée on 7 September, Brighton and Hove CTC are holding a cake-making social event after their ride on Sunday 16 June. Riders have a chance to sample all the entries, decide the bake-off winner and choose the star cake for the ride’s refreshment stop. Mary Berry need not worry.

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Showing why  Space for Cycling is so important are York rider CarefulCyclist and his YouTube videos. The first showed errant cyclists, the second discourteous drivers. Now, he has captured pedestrians stepping off pavements without looking and walking down cycle lanes in a third heart-stopping filmTraffic Droid goes one step further by castigating bad road users on the streets of London. [He was also the subject of a Channel 4 documentary The Complainers.]


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It will be eight years before safer lorries will be seen on the roads, despite support from several countries, including the UK and Germany. Sadly, France and Sweden called for the delay to protect lorry manufacturers Renault and Volvo. Although his support was ultimately unsuccessful, we would like to thank the 700 CTC members who wrote to the Transport Secretary urging him to oppose the measure.


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 159 Swiftsure’s advice for touring

3 June 2014

From   the Clarion  24 May 1896.  After some detailed advice on mending a puncture – much has changed since then in that respect – Swiftsure continued with the following advice – which is st ill pretty relevant after the best part of 120 years.

Those who intend touring next week, and have never previously taken such a journey , will do well to take a  few necessary precautions, in order that they may derive the greatest benefit from their outing.

In the first place, a good map of the district you intend touring should be purchased and the road mapped out there from with the approximate distances from each large village or town.

As much as possible should also be learnt of the district beforehand from all available sources. Dangerous hills should be carefully noted.

It is a good plan when touring to carry a spare tube, A sudden burst or bad puncture may make a spare tube come in most useful… A good supply of strong rubber and solution is also a necessary part of one’s outfit when touring.

Next time:  Some more club reports