The Next Ride: Sunday 30 November – Berwick Circular c 14 Miles only

18 November 2014

Our now traditional  last ride of the year –which might even turn out to be that this year if no one volunteers for 14 December –  is a really short and flat-ish one that maybe will tempt everyone out unless the weather is atrocious – like it was in 2010 when I had to cancel it. [Finally did it in February!] Before that we had mixed experiences – only two of us on the first, 2004 ride and things have not been without variety since.

It was icy in 2011  Poor Jenny came to grief even before the ride started though fortunately we had no further problems of that kind.   As she reported:

“The sky was clear and blue, the sun was beautiful and bright, but the temperature was still deceptively low even at 10.30 in the morning, and ice was lurking on the country lanes. As I discovered when I turned right at the Langtye Lane crossroads on the way to Berwick – the bike slid from under me and I hit the deck. Luckily I was going pretty slowly but it was a shock to the system nonetheless – no lasting harm done though, and most importantly the bike was undamaged apart from a dislodged chain!”

In 2012 it was lovely and sunny and, carried away by the winterwonderland of it all I led the ride straight past the pub for about half a mile!  As Leon’s report put it:

“Ian’s story was that they were possibly in a state of enlightenment as they passed the pub, or was it true that they were just daydreaming, or blinded by sun reflection off the road. Who knows.”

Who does, indeed!

Will we have decent weather this year?  Fingers crossed!   But wrap up warm in any case.

We’ll do the usual loop round the Berwick, Ripe, Chalvington area  and stop for lunch at the Yew Tree pub. There’s no point trying to “book” at such a popular pub at this time of year, but we should be there by 12 (or soon after) and if it was too full we could always try the Lamb at Ripe, which would add just a couple of miles to the ride or just wait until we got back to the Berwick Inn.

Distance: c 14  miles.

Hills:    If I say there aren’t any  hills, someone is bound to point out that the road went ‘up’ for 10 or 20 metres at some

point – but it really is pretty flat with just one mod

Off road: None

Traffic: Quiet roads 

Catering: Yew Tree  for lunch.*
Possible tea stop (depending on train times and our own progress) at the Berwick Inn  for tea

*see ride outline

Catch the 10.20 from Brighton station or meet at Berwick station at  10.43 .

[There’s only one train an hour –so I can’t suggest an alternative.] Train  back at  14.48   reaching  Brighton at   15.12  or 15.48  (16.12)

(Be at Brighton Station by 9.50 for Groupsave – I assume that’s still going.)

My mobile number is 07770743287

The Last Ride: Sunday 16 November 2014: Polegate – Hailsham – Hurstmonceux – Rickney – Polegate

18 November 2014

Devised by Sikka and Tessa

At Brighton Station, despite the rain forecasts, Adam, Chris, David, Fred, Julian, Mick, Sikka, Terry and Tessa boarded the 10.22 train to Eastbourne and got off at Polegate where Rob joined us.  Anne and had missed the train due to a puncture and only caught up with us after lunch.

The start at Polegate station, minus Rob and Anne (Fred took the picture)

Fred corralled us to take the group photo, and then persuaded a passing lady to take another to include him [and Rob], whom he told off when her two shots were blank. To his embarrassment, he realised after a while that the battery needed changing. We were soon going northerly up the Cuckoo Trail (NCN 21) often for 25 minutes falling behind a young couple running ahead, her knee-length socks an astonishingly bright yellow. Many dog lovers and grandparents with grandchildren had to give way as we streamed past and when occasional rapid transit cyclists raced by. After going through the middle of Hailsham, where two sampled fallen apples, and having covered about five miles, we turned east off the Trail and then northeast to Cowbeech for a longish uphill climb when irritatingly we could hear the purr of Fred’s electric-powered bike as our leg muscles cried for mercy.

Leaving the Cuckoo Trail

Down we went through Stunts Green and Herstmonceux village and briefly along the A271 to the Lime Cross Nursery for lunch, with nine miles clocked up by 12.20. They kindly reorganised the tables so ten could eat together, some for soup, others for pork with crackling, followed by cakes and hot chocolate.

Lunch at Lime Cross Nursery

After a short wait, Anne joined us having taken the faster main road route from Hailsham, but instead of eating her boxed lunch she bought three potted white flowers, and only started to eat sitting alongside Polegate Church at the end of the ride, and finishing it off on the train.

Outside Lime Cross Nursery

The return trip took us south through small settlements and across the Pevensey Levels to Rickney. But, unlike on the 4 May ride, there were no birds singing in the reed beds, and just gulls and corvids on the marshy areas – and two Mute Swans. Then we turned westwards – when Rob went on his own way – reaching the Shepham Lane bridge over the A27 and along some back streets to the station, completing over 18 miles (averaging 6mph). Sikka, Terry and Chris were ahead and caught the 15.06 train while the rest of us were critically held back by the level-crossing barriers being lowered. Notably no-one had gone across to the Loom rooms for a tea break and we waited for the 15.44, bidding our farewells once back in Brighton Station.

seeing where we'd been

The double irony of the day lay in two issues: some suspected that three ladies may have been put off by the forecast rain – but there was none. The three ladies who did come, were unusually in the minority, at the very time when Ian had called for “Help!” from any lady member to write about how successful the B&H Clarion Cycling Club is in attracting females and often equalising the gender balance on rides. Notably Sikka and Tessa had earlier biked on a recce together [twice, once each way] and had successfully led today’s ride, which gained our thanks.


More photos on Flickr.


18 November 2014

Dear All

Well, thanks to Joyce for her prompt response to my plea for “help!” with regard to that Boots and Spurs report.  We’ll all look out for it in the next issue.

The next ride on 30 November is the one I’ve been leading as “the last ride of the year” since 2004.  Since I can’t make our actual  last ride date on 14 December – the day after the “Social” – it’s not supposed to be the final one this year.

But, assuming I can get out from under this wretched cold which has reduced me to a feeble shadow for the last week and  a half, and assuming the weather forecast the day before is not so awful I have to cancel (always check your emails after 5 on the Saturday before a ride) it will be the last one after all – unless someone volunteers to take on 14 December.  Any offers?  Or perhaps we should just finish a bit earlier this year?

The Christmas Social 

Will take place, let me remind you on  13th December  at 12.30 at Stanmer House.  I trust everyone has paid their deposit and let Angela know about their menu choices?


In the last issue I asked for  those intending to come to the AGM – particularly office-holders –  to get in touch with me not later than the beginning of December to let me have  any dates in the first half of January let’s say up to 16 January that they can’t  make. It might also be as useful if people let me know of any days of the week that are impossible for them.  I realise these things change as time goes on and that inevitably, whenever I call the meeting there will be someone who can’t make it.  But I want to pick the best date possible.  So far, I’ve heard only from Julian.  I’ll be fixing the date for the AGM in the next newsletter – so please don’t delay

Tessa’s Open House 

As usual as Christmas approaches  Tessa will be holding an “open house” with her own work and a wide variety of that of other artists.  Always worth a look. More info on the Open House here. And more on Tessa’s ceramics here.


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 170 The Nottingham Camp

18 November 2014

From the Clarion 4 July 1696


The Next Ride: Sunday 16 November 2014 –  Polegate to Herstmonceux

5 November 2014

Special Note  from Sikka 

Tessa and myself cycled our Polegate route in reverse today and we may decide to do this on the day itself.  It will depend on weather conditions, especially the wind, but today we thought it worked better in reverse because it meant the worst hills were before, rather than after, lunch. The route was the same, we just cycled  up the Cuckoo trail first and back across the Pevensey Levels.

Terrain:   This ride is relatively flat on the whole, mainly when we are cycling across the Levels in the morning and down the Cuckoo Trail in the afternoon.    However, just before and after lunch there are hills. Nothing outrageous, but just to let you know! Length of ride – we guess it is about 16 miles or thereabouts.

Route:  We will start from Polegate station, cycle through the carpark, and out for a short ride along the cycle track on the pavement of the B2247 to the pedestrian crossing after Levetts Lane.  Up this lane to the bridge over the bypass and along quiet roads to Rickney.  Then  north across the Pevensey Levels to the village of Herstmonceux where we will join the footpath by the main road for a few yards to cross over to Lime Cross Nursery.   There we will have an early and, hopefully, leisurely lunch.

Back to the footpath followed by a brief journey along the main A271 through Herstmonceux village. There we take a right turn signposted  to Cowbeech. Now for the bad news.  This road takes us up Cowbeech Hill which is a long, slow, relatively gradual climb, through Stunts Green, and on to the top  at Beech Cross.   Nothing too challenging but it will be on full stomachs! We turn left at this junction onto a slightly busier but wide road, mostly downhill but including a couple of minor upward slopes. This takes us back to glimpse the main road before we slide past it to take a right turn into a wide, quiet road. Along this for a mile or two when we cross the verge into a disused and gated off  road on our left for a short stretch.   Then  straight over another busy road into Station Road. A good clue suggesting we may be approaching the Cuckoo Trail! A short way along just before a bridge we diverge off the tarmac and down an unmade track for a few yards,  joining the Trail and remembering to turn left which will take us South towards the delights of tea at the Loom tea rooms.

After tea,  about a mile left to the end of  the Cuckoo Trail and into Polegate to catch a train home.

Train from Brighton leaving at 10.22, arriving Polegate at 10.49.
Return trains from Polegate to Brighton 15.06 and 15.44,  16.06 and 16.44.

PS  The cafe has asked that we give them good warning we are booking a group for lunch as they expect to order in extra food.   So if you know you are joining the ride, do let us know. Perhaps email me, Sikka, at or phone:  07787402229.   Thanks.

Tessa and Sikka

The Last Ride: Sunday 2 November – Shoreham Circular in the Rain

5 November 2014

There were still patches of blue sky when I arrived at Shoreham station for a 10 o’clock departure, and I wasn’t really expecting anyone to be there, with a start from Portslade always being the best option. At 10.45h, after the customary group photo, I set off for the start of the Dyke Railway Trail where I thought there might be a couple of more riders to join me.

Group photo

Rendez-vous at Dyke Railway

Undeterred, I started the leisurely climb to the top of Devil’s Dyke and shared an animated discussion with some other visitors about the breath-taking views from the summit.

The Devil's Dyke

Cruising back down the hill and passing the Dyke Golf Course Clubhouse, I contemplated whether I should snap up this special offer for spending my winter months hacking towards some sodden greens.

Cheap golf at the Dyke

It was now downhill all the way to Saddlescombe Farm and a spot of lunch at the Hikers’ Rest.

The Hikers' Rest

After some surprisingly tasty organic coffee, I was able to direct some fellow cyclists who had come over the Downs from Amberley, back to Brighton station, as one of their group had got his bike stuck in top gear.

Stuck in top gear

As it had just started to rain quite heavily, I opted for a hearty lunch of an organic lamb pasty, just when another group headed off to conquer the Downs Way in the mud.

A hearty lunch

After an hour the rain temporarily ceased and I headed off through Poynings and Fulking, to meet up with the second group of cyclists who had been washed off the Downs and we joined up to cycle back to Steyning together.

Honduran coffee at Tom's Foolery

I was back in Shoreham by 3pm for a cup of the best Honduran coffee on the south coast at Tom Foolery, and in plenty of time to get to Ropetackle for a Glynebourne-style picnic and production of Tosca.

Somehow along the way I had missed Julian, who I can only think had started from the Railway Trail just before I arrived, and got to the Hiker’s Rest while I was still sight-seeing on The Dyke, and then decided not to stop for lunch.


News (Guido Fawkes edition)

5 November 2014

Dear All

I have a nagging feeling that someone has expressed interest in taking on the final ride of the year on 14 December and that I may have misplaced the message.  If so, please accept my apologies and remind me.  If not – any offers?

Hats off to David, who when there were no takers for last Sundays’s ride carried on on his own in the best Clarion tradition!

Cancellation of Rides

Of course a ride may have to be cancelled at any time of year. But it’s most likely to happen in the winter months.  So now is, I think, a good time to remind everyone to check emails after 5 pm on the day before the ride.  Any cancellation or last minute changes will be circulated then.

Using the Google Group – Message from Jim

Dear Clarion members

There have been a lot of messages going around the Google Group recently, and it’s reminded me that there may be some new members who aren’t aware of it and would like to join. The Google Group is both an on-line discussion forum and a mailing list; it is ideal for discussing cycling-related matters or passing on messages about events etc that may be of interest to members. I know that there has been some confusion in the past about what the Google Group is and how it works, so I have put some text on our website which will hopefully make all this clearer, including how to join the group. You’ll see that there is now an extra item on the top menu called “Google Group” (rather inelegantly placed below the others – sorry about that, I could not find a way to shorten the other menu items to make room for it!) – click that, and hopefully all will be revealed.


Boots and Spurs

I’ve had an email from Matthew and Kirsty  which begins “Thank you for contributing to the last edition of Boots & Spurs” and goes on to tell us that the deadline for the next issue is 16 November.

There was quite a lot from us in the last issue and we might be tempted to “sit this one out” – but I hope not.

The following bit from the message – especially the final sentence which I’ve italicised caught my eye.

The big question

We will be printing an article about club runs and how to organise the perfect group ride. Has your section come up with the good way to keep a group together? Do you have any tips for riding in a group? Does your club runs have ride leaders? Some section like Bury and Tuxford appear to have large (and cohesive) groups taking part in their weekend rides – how have they succeeded? Has your club been successful in encouraging women to participate?

As you’ll recall, our section came out “top” in respect of gender balance among all the Clarion sections.  I think it would be good if someone – not me (wrong gender) – did just a little piece on why you think we have had a little success in this area and how we might improve further .  If anyone would like to take this on I’ll forward the Boots and Spurs email which includes a great deal of detail on how to prepare a contribution.

Don’t delay!

The Christmas Social 

You will have already received the most recent details – but in case you missed it for any reason here are the essential bits again.  The menu is attached [in the newsletter].

The Stanmer House  booking is confirmed for 13th Dec at 12.30 under the name Angela Coulter or Clarion Cycling Club.

We all need to have done 2 things ASAP and not later then 14 November in the case of menu choices

1.   phone Stanmer House (01273680400, Line 2 for the office) to pay our £10 deposit by card.
2 choose from the menu and get our choices back to Angela at

The New Year Brunch Ride

The “turnout” – if that’s the right word – for the vote on whether to stick to the traditiona1 1 January or follow this year’s precedent of having it on 2nd January was pretty low (rather like  Police Commiossioner elections)  but we have a decisive result.

8  voted for 2nd January and 1 for New Year’s Day.  So subject to weather forecasts much nearer the time the ride will be on 2nd January.


On this issue the participation rate was no greater but the result was even more decisive.  8 for having it early in January.  None against.

I’d be grateful if those intending to come to the AGM – particularly office-holders – would let me know ASAP and in any case not later than the beginning of December of any dates in the first half of January let’s say up to 16 January that they can’t  make.  I realise these things change as time goes on but please let me have known dates when you  can’t attend.

Protect your wheels?   A message from Leon

I missed Leon’s email which appeared early last month in the google group;  I’d just got back from holiday and was having the usual problems catching up with things.  But since many members are not in the group it’s certainly worth repeating here.

Dear Clarion members, with the rise of bicycle and bike parts thefts comes a rather smart invention to deter a would-be thief from removing your wheels. I recall an incident when Jim had his front wheel tampered with on a train. Louts removed the axel from his front wheel because a quick release was fitted. It could happen to any of us when our bikes are out of sight.

BOOTS  and best wishes. Leon

To find out more about Quick Caps visit”Quick Caps website“.


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s: 169. Blatchford’s (not entirely serious) advice for “cautious riders.”

5 November 2014

This comes from a longer piece by Blatchford in the Clarion  June 1896

You’ll notice that it is signed “Nunquam” and since it’s a while since I’ve explained this and many people have joined us since then I’d better do it again.

Before starting the Clarion with a group of like-minded friends Robert Blatchford had already found unexpected fame as a journalist on the Sunday Chronicle.  He was particularly admired for a series of articles exposing the awful living conditions of people living in the slum areas of Manchester.  These were signed  “Nunquam Dormio” ( = I never sleep.  Though Blatchford whose formal education was almost entirely confined to what he learned in the British army as a young man had to ask his friend Alex Thompson what it meant).   The name stuck and Blatchford became “Nunquam.”  Other members of staff – and frequent correspondents such as Tom Groom (“the O Groomio”) –  also quickly acquired nickmamses.  Thompson became “Dangle,”  E F Fay “The Bounder”,  Blatchford’s elder brother Montague “Mont Blong” and the artist and designer William Palmer “Whiffley Puncto” – apparently because he “whiffled” ( No, please don’t ask me!).


Next time:  The Nottingham Camp