News and Easter Meet report

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!).

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