The Next Ride: Sunday 28 May 2017 – Cuckoo Trail and Pevensey Levels

22 May 2017

Only c 16/17 miles and mainly pretty flat. NB With Picnic!

This is quite like one of Julian’s rides back in April – but going the other way round. But it’s even more like the one I led back in March 2014. As Nick reported at the time, we were incredibly lucky with the weather and there was a record turnout. Let’s hope our luck holds

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

In 2014 we had lunch at the Catkins Tea Rooms adjacent to a “high quality” cattery , but the café – unlike the cattery – is no longer in being. I did think about going on into Herstmonceux perhaps to the Woolpack (though the report from Julian’s ride was not encouraging) or a bit further to the excellent Lime Cross Nursery café but either would entail more main road (and a bit more uphill to boot). At this point I thought ‘If you can’t have a picnic at the end of May, when can you?’ But should the weather forecast be horrible I will cancel the ride and we’ll do it another time when things look better. So make sure to check your emails after 5pm the day before the ride.

So, we’ll get away from the traffic ASAP and turn by the famous “Truggery” shop and go down Cricketing Lane and across the Levels to Rickney – stopping on the way for a picnic at whatever likely spot we encounter; perhaps like Julian’s ride having a stop at New Bridge. Then from Rickney it’s along the usually quiet Glynleigh Road eventually rejoining the Cuckoo Trail just north of the Old Loom where we can make the usual tea-stop before returning to Polegate. Anyone who has forgotten sandwiches will be able to avoid starvation by stoking up there.

One of the things I particularly like about this route – apart from lack of traffic and hills – is its scenic variety and ‘feel.’ The contrast between the ‘closed in’ Cuckoo Trail and the open vistas on the Levels with Constable-style skies is striking and then the road from Rickney at the bottom of the Levels is different again. You can’t always enjoy such variety in so few miles

Catch the 10.12 from Brighton Station (there is another at 10.17 but it involves a change at Lewes- phone me if you end up on that one and we’ll wait for you)

Meet: at 10.40 at Polegate station

Trains back at 34 minutes past the hour (non-stop). There are others involving a change

Remember the picnic!

My mobile number is 07770743287


The Last Ride: Sunday 14 April 2017

22 May 2017

Nine of us met at the Adur Recreation Ground Car Park and the weather for the ride was looking good after weeks of very chilly winds.  
So Dave led the way onto the Downslink and Pru, Jenny, Sikka, Wendy and myself followed. Also with us were Dave’s son, Ian, and two friends of his, Olga and Jay.

The Downslink at this time of year looks very lush and the cow parsley was looking at its best in the sunshine. Part of the way up to Bramber is very open and there are lovely views across the fields. Other parts are closed in by over-arching trees, providing a good deal of shade in the sunshine. Most of us found that the layers of clothing we had on, were no longer needed as it was beginning to really warm up as we approached Stan’s Bike-shed Cafe for lunch. We were able to sit outside in the sun and it really felt as if ‘proper’ spring was on its way.

After some discussion at lunch, Wendy and Sikka took the decision to go back the way we had come, via the Downslink. The rest of us decided to take the road to Steyning and then back to Shoreham via the Downslink.

At Steyning we said goodbye to Olga and Jay who were going off to the Steyning Bostal to do some serious hill riding. The rest of us continued onto the Downslink and then back to Shoreham.

Thank you very much, Dave, for organising and leading a very lovely ride.



22 May 2017

Dear All

We sometimes have had difficulty finding people to take on rides in the winter months – understandably – but usually come the Spring it’s been more a matter of saying ‘sorry, but X has already taken that date. Would you be able to do it on Y?’

It may still turn out like that this year. But at the moment what we need especially is an offer for 11 June.

As promised (threatened?) I’ve written a piece about the beginnings of our club. Like Topsy it kept growing and growing so I’ve relegated it to what’s usually been our ‘history’ slot after the details of the next ride and Angela’s report of the last one.

Much more succinct is the message I received a while back from John:

It takes two to tandem
It certainly does. I have one hanging from my workshop ceiling. It’s collecting lots of dust and hasn’t been used for years. Anyone fancy a spin? It’s a beautiful machine, hand built by Richmond Cycles and light. I used it quite a lot years ago. If you like speed, push the pedals and away it would go. Who needs an electric bike when you can have a partner.
 I would suggest a test ride at some point along the prom.  If that satisfies a suitable ride with the Clarion could follow. 


Sorry about the spacing of the last line, John. Don’t know what went wrong.


How We Started: the beginning of the Brighton and Hove Clarion

22 May 2017

I have hesitated for quite a long time before trying to write an account of how the current Brighton and Hove Clarion came into being – although several people have suggested it from time to time. The problem is that if I tell it like it was it starts off in a very autobiographical mode. But I can’t think of a way to avoid that – so here we go!

It was back in the second half of the 1970s that I first became aware of the (national) Clarion Cycling Club – but only as an organisation that had existed long, long ago. My research involved , among much else, reading all issues of the Clarion up to 1914. I wasn’t primarily interested in the cycling activities associated with the paper but since I was a fairly keen cyclist, given mainly to solitary touring apart from occasional Sunday rides with the local CTC, I did take an interest in the early days of the national Club. Among other things I read about how the ‘Boots’ and ‘Spurs’ call and response thing came about – but at this stage I imagined that the cycling club had died out with the paper in the 1930s – or probably even earlier.

Then a few years later, just before Easter, I was in the Members’ Kitchen at Bourne youth hostel – in centre of the Fenland haunts of Hereward the Wake. I’d cycled from Kings Lynn that day and was off the Nottingham on the next one. I can’t remember what sort of simple meal I was preparing myself – might have a been just warming up a tin of baked beans or something similar. But I became aware of two other hostellers busy in the kitchen. They seemed incredibly old to me, bowed down with years – ie they were probably about 20 or 25 years younger than I am now.

Suddenly I noticed that one of them was wearing a large Clarion ‘trumpet’ badge and, amazed to see any sign of an organisation I then believed must have died out decades before, I found myself saying “Boots!” Much consternation from my two ‘elderly’ companions who naturally wanted to know how I knew about this esoteric greeting – which elicited the usual “Spurs!” I explained and discovered that they were on their way to the Easter Meet at – if I remember rightly – Skegness. I was suitably amazed to find that Clarion cycling was still up and running (or rather riding).

This was long before the internet and suchlike but I got from them the address to write to and – since there was no local section in those days – spent a few years as a ‘central section’ member – what’s now going to be called a ‘private member.’ But after a while I sort of half forgot about it and my membership lapsed.

I was so busy with both work and putting two books together in the ’90s that my cycling activities declined appreciably. No longer would I do a 50-70 mile ride or go off on a mini tour for a few days or a week. So when I retired towards the end of 2003 I was keen to get back into cycling – though with much more modest ambitions. I thought it would be good to rejoin the Clarion and now of course with emails and suchlike it was much easier getting back in touch. I discovered that only 3 members were needed to start a local section so I started asking around.

I knew my former work colleague Joyce was keen on a bit of not too energetic cycling and needed just one more person to make up the three necessary. It had been my habit since the mid 1980s to wind down, with a pint our two, from the week labouring down the salt mines with a Friday evening at Brighton Jazz Club and when I mentioned what I had in mind I got a very positive response from another regular, Ed (aka Ted) Furey, who I’d known for many years. So, early in 2004 I became secretary, Ed chair, and Joyce treasurer – although it didn’t involve any of us doing very much. As it turned out Ed – as far as I can remember – only ever came on just one ride – but he made up the necessary trio – so the section was formed. Hot on his heels came Joyce’s Brighton council colleague Sheila Schaffer – a former mayor of the town. Sadly, neither Ed nor Sheila are still with us.

If it was my idea to start – or as it turned out re-start – a Brighton (and Hove!) Clarion it was Joyce who came up with at least two key ideas; that we could start our rides at convenient railway stations and – stroke of genius – that we would take it in turns to write a report of our rides which would then be circulated as part of what we then called a ‘circular’ to members and others who expressed interest. To begin with it fell to me to organise most of the rides – and I also wrote the first report on our first ride which took place in April 2004. Here it is:

Three of us managed the ‘inaugural ride’ in the end – Joyce, our newest member (we’re now up to 7 with about as many more prospective joiners) Sheila Schaffer who some of you at least also know.

The weather was awful – cold, wet and windy and the Golden Martlet pub where we’d reckoned on having a break was covered in scaffolding and closed – but having survived World War II we were not going to let a spot of rain deter us. In spite of the weather we had an enjoyable day – and thanks largely to Joyce thoughtfully bringing a flask of hot soup we survived.

We decided that for the moment – and subject to general agreement – we’d reckon on waiving a ride every other Sunday and have sketched out plans for a couple of nice easy-peasie little ones of no more than 23 miles at the most for the next two.


As I said earlier I had no idea about whether or not there’d ever been a Clarion section in our area. But quite soon after our first ride I was able to report as follows:

Our predecessor 

As a result of the piece that Adam Trimingham put in the Argus the other week I had a call from Brian Hutton. Brian is the paper’s long time cycling correspondent and may be known to some of you (eg Alun). He was a member of a Brighton section of the Club in the later 1940s. Apparently the leading figure was Wally Newman, a local Labour councillor, who I’ve certainly heard of and I’m sure so have some of you (Andy being my best bet on this one). They apparently went in for racing pretty seriously and included some local champions. Most of the members, though, like Brian himself, tended later to concentrate their efforts with other local clubs like the Brighton Mitre (Bob has sent me an e mail about a jumble sale they’re having in May which I will send on later) and the Clarion, Brian believes, disappeared sometime in the mid-1950s. Certainly, we know from that Handbook for 1962/3 that Ed turned up that it had disappeared by then. Brian has sent me a copy of an article he did some time ago about his early days as a racing cyclist in Brighton of which I’m getting some copies made for you as well as suggesting he sends a version of it for possible publication in Boots and Spurs. [See Autumn 2004 issue]

That was the start of what has become over the years a very welcome feature of this newsletter – further information about the old Brighton section and the memories of people involved – most recently from Ken Wells.

By this time Bob had established contact and he alerted us to a Veteran Cycle Day at the Amberley Working Museum and this became our second ride – from Arundel. In my report I noted that “There were lots of interesting machines from all periods – I did note that ‘the youngest’ entry (in the ‘Sports Machines’ Group) was only two years older than the bike I’d just ridden to Amberley on.” It’s even older now, of course.

Our first “social” or at least non-riding activity that year was to venture one evening into the wilds (by car rather than bike) to the King’s Arms at Fernhurst, near Haslemere for a rare visit that far south of the Mikron Theatre group (who usually toured on the canals). They were presenting Pedal Power, an excellent piece about the early days of the Clarion cycling clubs.

Afterwards, or it may have been during the interval, I recall a very “knowledgeable” woman – not I hasten to say anyone to do with the production – confidently informing me that there was no Clarion cycling club in Brighton. I told her that I was in fact its secretary but, as too often is the case with such folk, she preferred to believe what she “knew” in spite of the evidence talking to her! Trump clearly didn’t invent the ‘Fake News’ concept.

Well, after that we grew steadily. Sikka (then known as ‘Sue Pringle’) first joined us on our second ride in May 2004. We had four participants but there’s been six on the first ride that month. Soon we were joined by Jim, Anne and Mick, Roger and Suzanne and many others.

We’d already established what’s become our distinctive pattern – a not-too-demanding ride every fortnight with a report to follow in 2004.


The Next Ride: Sunday 14 May 2017 – Hove Lost Dog Cycle Search Team and Clarion Cycle Ride

3 May 2017

The ride will start at Adur Recreation Ground car park beside the A259 just over the river via the new Norfolk Bridge and Shoreham High Street. The unused Adur Outdoor Activity Centre is the landmark opposite the Recreation Ground Car Park and toilets.

For those that might be arriving by car the car parking is free (at least it was when I parked there earlier to plan a walk over the Downs!). The proposed route is via the airport perimeter road to the old toll bridge and then along the Downs Link Bridleway/ Cycle Route via Bramber and Henfield to Partridge Green and Stan’s Bike Shack where tea, coffee, cakes and burgers etc can be obtained. (22 round trip miles)

Should everyone be fighting fit and feel the desire then the ride could be extended to the old West Grinstead Station platform where the small museum in a railway carriage might be open as well as the chance to use the Orchard Tea Room. (27 round trip miles)

If desired we could press on to Southwater Country Park for refreshments by the lake! (32 round trip miles)

There are several options but the leisurely one would be to Partridge Green and then back to the Art Deco Shoreham Airport Building to admire the scene of so many films from Tenko to Poirot and to have a coffee whilst there!

If required there are cafes and pubs in Shoreham as well and M’s Cycles can be very obliging for any cycle bits and advice There are some minor hills north of Bramber and in Henfield but being the old railway it is flat and easy going for any bike.

Train times
Depart Lewes 09.22
Arrive Shoreham 10.15
Depart Hassocks 09.35
Arrive Shoreham 10.15
Depart Brighton 10.00
Arrive Shoreham 10.15

It is only about 5 minutes from the station to the start point but please note my mobile number in case you are delayed: 07940 796934.
I don’t use trains so some of you seasoned travellers will know the ins and outs of your journey, I have just used the national timetable for the above in case it helps!


The Last Ride: Sunday 30 April 2017 – The Level to Brighton Pier via Falmer, Woodingdean and Rottingdean

3 May 2017

Ten of us set off from the Tomato Dolce & Salato family-run Italian Cafe / Restaurant (formerly The Velo Cafe) on The Level at 10.40 (Angela C, Angela D, Anne, Dave, David, Julian, Mick, Prudence, Tessa and Wendy) and rode on the cycle lane along the Lewes Road. We passed the gyratory and up to the turn off to Sussex Uni, with the head wind and slow accumulation of height making this slower than expected. Then Mick led the way up through Brighton Uni at Falmer until we reached the Falmer pond. Dave kindly sorted out Julian’s locked chain twice. A brief visit was made to the local artists’ exhibition in the St. Laurence church, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary. Then onto the cycle path that runs south – parallel to the winding Falmer Road – on which at some of the undulations most got off and walked. 
Before we turned left into Bexhill Road, Angela C booked a table for lunch at the Coach House Inn in Rottingdean in the upstairs room. We sped on down at the eastern side of Woodingdean through housing estates, so as to avoid the main road (ie Falmer Road, B2123), until we joined it just north of Rottingdean, then riding on the east-side pavement until we reached the church and village pond. Just before this Tessa peeled off to meet Helen, and Dave also headed off a little later. As is becoming usual, Prudence was often ahead enjoying to go at her fastest.
In the Coach House, after a longish wait, the food arrived for eight of us, ranging from chips with beans, jacket potatoes with tuna mayonnaise or beans, up to a large meat pie slice with vegetables. Discussion was long and intense on political and green issues, particularly involving government spending, and with the case made for proportional representation in elections, instead of first past the post.
After lunch, Angela C headed east to Saltdean accompanied by Anne (who caught us up later) while six of us cycled westwards along the undercliff path back to the Brighton Pier by 3.30 pm or so – a distance of about 13 miles.  On passing the Marina there was light rain for about ten minutes.
Thanks to Angela C and Julian for a pleasant ride.


(Fairly Recent) History

3 May 2017

The last newsletter was a bit of a rush job but the one before featured quite a lot of Ken Well’s reminiscences of the mid-20th century Brighton Clarion. I have had a few more emails from Ken since then which I have arranged into what follows. Ken was a pilot officer in the RAF during national service, about which he has some interesting things to say. But we begin with one of the photos that appeared in the 4 April newsletter.


Sidecar 1959

That picture of Tandem and Sidecar. The tandem was a Claud Butler one, and I rode it in quite a few Tandem Time Trials with various stokers. When my wife Pearl became pregnant we acquired a standard “Watsonian” sidecar. I don’t know when they stopped making these. They only took one baby. When second child was on her way, I built a new body from scratch on the same chassis. I had to strengthen the attachment bracket, but it served until our daughter, the rear passenger, was about five. Then we acquired a car.

Back in my era, National Service was compulsory, which often led to people giving up cycle racing. Being sent to far off shores without a bike for two years often led to that. I spent nearly all my two years on Aircrew training, so I was in this country, although quite a bit of it took place in Northern Ireland. I did get a bike across there, my sports afternoon was ride to Belfast (30 miles) and go to cinema.

There were a few club cyclists on the station, and I organised a four-up team time trial between the three RAF stations in NI on our perimeter track. Another snippet, about my time with the RAF in Northern Ireland, I managed to get a bike over there. Found a set of rollers in the Gym, and amused others by demonstrating you did not need holding up, and could even ride “hands off” on rollers.

We were allowed an afternoon off for sports. Mine was often to ride to (Belfast) 30 miles) have a meal, go to cinema then ride back. I did ride down to Newcastle Co. Down, on edge of Mourne Mountains near the Irish Border. There was no local club nearby, unlike Scotland when I rode for Clachnacuddin CC in a couple of local time trials.

Some people did manage to keep up cycling while on National Service. When I was on basic pilots course at Derby, I used to take bike to and fro when going on leave, I could get across London faster than a taxi.

In my era, most of us found girl friends and eventually wives from club members or members of other clubs I met mine on a club excursion. Few of us had cars in those days, so coaches were hired to visit major cycling events, often at Herne Hill. I met my wife to be at a roller race meeting in Bognor while I was on leave from the RAF. The club (Prestonville) had hired a coach. It worked out well. We have been together now for nearly 70 years


Thanks Ken. Can’t remember who said it, but someone at our AGM did say that it was time we had something in the newsletter about our own history as the current B&H Clarion. I think Ken’s contribution is probably enough history stuff for this time but I have in mind to tell the story of how we started back in 2004 – possibly in the next issue.


News and Easter Meet report

3 May 2017

Dear All
I know Jim has some ideas for rides, but apart from Dave’s ‘next ride’ I haven’t been overwhelmed with offers – so I’ve put myself down for 28 May. But I’m not going to be available for either of the June ones – so suggestions for them are very very welcome.

The Easter Meet
As promised last time, here’s a brief-ish report on the Easter Meet at Chester. Bob wasn’t able to make it so Brighton and Hove (or ‘Benson and Hedges’ as Ian Clarke insists on calling us – I’m planning to get him at playtime) was represented only by myself and Sue. We made it the beginning of a little holiday – enjoying walking round the world famous Rows and the city wall in Chester and taking a little river trip on the Dee. We followed this by a drive through Wales taking in some of the very best bits – Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons and the Gower Peninsula. In my own defence I have to add that I have – admittedly in the now distant past starting with an Eagle Club – remember the comic? – tour of mid-Wales in the early 1950s -done a fair bit of cycling in the principality. But you won’t want to hear any more about this.

The annual conference took up the whole of Saturday morning. Only 20 of us attended.Votes depend on the number of members who’ve paid their subs by 1 April. At 34 we are almost exactly in the middle in this regard. Sections cover a huge spectrum in terms of membership from 4 (Heanor) to 225 (North Cheshire).

3rd Party Insurance
The most rather disturbing thing that the national secretary reported is that there has been a lower than expected take-up of the new insurance offer. There is now possibility that the new Clarion scheme will have to be wound up next year since at the moment it is costing the club a significant amount of money because of the low take up.

Of course, many of those who race – and most other sections do go in for this – are already covered and many others – like me for instance – rely on Cycling UK (former CTC) membership.

I’ve written about this several times before in this newsletter, urging everyone to make sure that they have 3rd party cover. Anne’s experience of not having it a few years ago was – to put it mildly – not a very happy one. (And quite an expensive one).

The scenario that worries me most is the one where on one of our rides I crash into someone else and damage their machine. In the old days this might have been less of a worry but nowadays when bikes often cost thousands rather than hundreds of pounds it could be very expensive.

Actually, there is nothing to worry about in this instance since I’ve had 3rd party cover since I joined the CTC in 1954. I’ve never had to use it, by the way. But if I did accidentally damage your bike on a ride I could be quite honest and straightforward about it since my insurance would cover the damage – however much it was. But suppose I was someone without 3rd party cover. There’d be a strong temptation to try and contest the cause of the accident claiming ‘it wasn’t really my fault.’ No one would be happy about having their bike damaged. But one can easily imagine the additional bad feeling that a would be generated in such a scenario – which I don’t think is a totally unrealistic one. Hardly ‘Fellowship is Life”!

Vacancies for Assistant Secretary and Membership Secretary
Much praise was given at the conference to our London friends Alec and Alan who had been carrying out these roles with great distinction. But they have both resigned and no one was able to come forward at Chester to replace them. I suggested that one of the reasons it is so difficult to find people to take on national positions is that few people have a clear idea of exactly what sort of commitment they are being asked to take on. My proposal that detailed job descriptions be circulated was agreed. Bob, by the way, was re-elected as Standing Orders secretary.

Motions from the National Committee
Most of these concerned racing or were uncontentious – such as the proposal to continue the already agreed winding up of the ‘Central’ section by transferring existing members to the category of ‘private members’.

The one on which we did have some discussion at the AGM was the proposed new rule 3.6 which was to say that ‘only members who have paid an annual subscription to the National Clarion Cycling Club may describe themselves as a “Clarion Cycling Club” or use the National Clarion logos and trademarks.’

I think it’s true to say that we were not opposed to this in principle but had some concerns about whether it was enforceable without quickly running through our c £27,000 reserves in legal fees. It became evident that the situation is – isn’t it always? –complicated. There are 3 existing sections that allow people to opt out of national membership. This goes back to fears that some had about the direction the Clarion seemed to be going in the early part of this century. They are to be allowed to continue as in the past on the understanding that efforts will be make to persuade people to fall in line with the rest of the Club.

But what triggered this motion was apparently the activities of a group calling itself the ‘Glasgow Clarion’ which had nothing to do with the Clarion proper. Ian Clarke also explained that the intention was to make sure that new sections confirmed to the new rule. In any case there’s no intention to engage in expensive litigation. Our AGM had instructed us to ‘listen to the arguments and vote accordingly’ so Sue and I duly conferred and supported the motion – which was then passed.

I don’t think there is much else I need report – except that the 2018 Easter Meet will be at Southend – organised by the London Section. Southend may not be such an obviously attractive venue as Chester – but from our point of view it is a lot nearer – so maybe we will have a larger contingent next year.

The Annual Dinner
The guest speaker – actually he preferred to simply answer people’s questions – was Barry Hoban, famous before the age of Wiggins, Froome and Cavendish for winning many top races including no less than 8 stages of the Tour de France. His contribution was interesting and entertaining and went down very well with the assembled Clarionettes (a great deal more of them than turned up the day before for the conference!).