The Last Ride. Jim’s Report

17 April 2018

15 April 2018: Hove to Shoreham

On the path

On their last ride, Sikka and Tessa introduced a revolutionary idea – having the lunch at the end of the ride rather than the middle. Not content to rest on their laurels, for this ride they pushed the boundaries even further by having the coffee stop at the beginning – at Tessa’s house, in fact, where Angela D, Marilyn, Prudence, Sikka, Wendy and I were served our chosen tipples by our attentive hostess. This was actually the first of two coffee “stops”, the second one being at Saddlescombe Farm, where we enjoyed either second breakfast or (in Wendy’s case) what looked more like first lunch; for David, a fruity ice lolly; for the rest, various teas, coffees, scones and cakes. Later we had our proper lunch stop, of course, at the Kings Head at Upper Beeding, where Wendy had her second lunch and everyone else their first. Unfortunately, plans for a proposed third lunch, or third coffee stop, or afternoon tea, at Shoreham Airport were shelved in order for us to fully appreciate the new extension of the Downs Link path right down to the Ropetackle centre in Shoreham.

David and lolly

In between the eating and drinking, there was actually a bit of bike riding. We cycled through Hove Park to the Engineerium (scandalously, still closed), then, skirting Hangleton, we arrived at the footbridge over the A27 where, after a few minutes’ rest, David caught up with us, having cycled from Shoreham. At the top of the path we joined the road, then down to Saddlescombe for the aforementioned breakfast/coffee/lunch, then whizzing on down to Poynings (this ride did appear to have more “downs” than “ups”, somehow) and Fulking, stopping to admire the two antique drinking fountains on the way.

Along the road towards Edburton, with the glorious backdrop of the Downs to our left, the ride leaders came across a horse in a field struggling to get up. Prudence knocked a couple of doors and found the owner, who explained that the horse was 27 years old and suffered from arthritis, but thanked her for telling him. Further along, we came across another horse with its head poking out through a seemingly purpose-built dip in the wall. Unfortunately we had nothing to feed it with. Behind, a tiny pony stood in the yard.


After a scary mile or so of the A2037 round Windmill Hill, we came at last to Upper Beeding and the aforementioned lunch stop. Obligingly, the forecast rain arrived just as we got inside; disappointingly, however, it refused to yield on our emergence an hour later. But it did eventually let up and we saw the sun again, whilst riding southwards along the Downs Link.

Thanks to Sikka and Tessa for a very enjoyable ride and for arranging the weather so neatly.


Devil's Dyke from the viewpoint above Poynings



The Last Ride: Shoreham to Worthing: The Breaking of the Fellowship

3 April 2018

Photos on Flickr

Having ridden from Brighton to Shoreham as anything between 16 and 20 riders (we were never near enough to the same place at any one time to count!) our strung-out cat-herd finally split up into two factions: the “Remainers” and the “Leavers”. The Leavers … well, they left. That left the Remainers (Angela, Angela, Chris, David, Mark, Prudence, Richard, Wendy and myself) to remain, and enjoy a coffee (and, in Angela D’s case, a second breakfast) at one of the few cafes that was actually open. Before she followed her comrades over the bridge, Helen (whose Easter benevolence has already been noted on a previous ride) kindly gave each of us a small chocolate egg.

On the Adur Ferry Bridge

Once refreshed, we followed the Leavers over the footbridge to Shoreham Beach, where we met Anne on her way back. We turned right into Riverside Road and basically continued along the seafront from there on. Eventually the road leads you onto a shared footpath and cycle path, which we shared with a number of dogs and their (slightly less numerous) owners. I’ve noticed that as you travel along the coast from Saltdean to Worthing, the Rampion Wind Farm appears to move with you – an optical illusion which I think is caused by it being a lot further away than you think (it’s actually over 13 kilometres from the coast, which is greater than the distance from Brighton to Shoreham). Apparently, although the 116 turbines are currently being tested and commissioned, the wind farm has already started supplying power to the grid. I sincerely hope that the City of Chichester, a huge dredger that we saw in Shoreham Harbour by the locks, does not accidentally dredge up the undersea power cables linking the turbines to the grid!

City of Chichester (2)

Wendy and I regretted that it had not been possible for us to join the Easter Meet ride from Southend to Foulness Island, which was happening simultaneously with our ride, as numbers were strictly limited, and one had to sign up for it after arrival in Southend, which is a long way to travel if you’re not even sure you’ll get a place. Perhaps next time …

Coast cafe

David had been somewhat vague on the subject of a lunch stop. When we got to the Coast café on Worthing seafront, he went in to reconnoitre and pronounced it a suitable place for us to refresh ourselves. The café has grown by a factor of about 4 since I last visited it, and has a very pleasant atmosphere and plenty of dishes to choose from. Most opted for soup; I had the veggie mezze and a bottle of pale ale. All very nice. As we sat in the café by the window we saw the Leavers, obviously regretting their decision, coming back. We banged on the window; Tessa seemed to hear us, but in the end she did not stop. Had they done so, we would have welcomed them with open arms and given them their maroon passports back.

I left at this point to visit my daughter, the other 8 turning eastwards for home. Thanks to David for a nice easy hill-less Easter ride, and congratulations on such a bumper turnout!

There were no April Fool jokes.


This ride became rather confusing and fragmented as the day progressed, to say the least. I am assembling only my impression, not exactly an accurate account of the entire ride.

I think there were about fifteen riders at the start by the Palace Pier. Shortly after riding the network 2 cycleway westward toward Shoreham, We were joined by one more, followed by four more before reaching the Hove Lagoon.

We were by now a large group that was difficult to manage as some fell off the back and one sped off at the front. I’m not sure of the details.

On arriving at the Place in Shoreham near the footbridge we were greeted by Mick with a grin a mile wide, he told us that he’d been in a café waiting for us slow-coaches to arrive. At this point the group became split, our sub-group wanted to continue straight-on to Worthing, while the other stayed to enjoy something in a Shoreham café. We didn’t see them again.

Now we were on to the cycleway to Worthing and experiencing heavy footfall in the form of ambulating families, children and dogs running aimlessly among the casually strolling adults. It became extremely frustrating for some of our group of eight to a point that at least one wanted to call it a day and quit the ride. None the less we all continued to Worthing safely. At Worthing we found eight seats in the Pier-head restaurant and all enjoyed good food and pleasant conversation.

Riding back to Brighton with a tailwind was great. Just after going over the lock gates at the harbour I spotted John Clinton, cycling head-down into the wind, toward Carats café. I called out to him and again our group became split as Joyce, John and Leon rode back to Carats for a coffee and a chat. John has not been able to ride for a few weeks due to a fall and subsequent injury to his left knee.

Finally on our return home we find out total mileage to be 28 miles, but that was home to home.

Overall this for me, and I hope others it turned out to be a lovely day out cycling.

Thanks to David for offering to organise and lead it.


The Last Ride: Report

7 March 2018

No report on the 4th March: the ride was cancelled because of bad weather.

The Last Ride: Sunday 18th February 2018 – Hassocks to Lewes

20 February 2018

Group photo

L-R Tessa, Sikka, Wilma, David, Richard, Peter, Wendy, Angela

On a crisp February morning, at the somewhat luxuriously late hour of 11am, eight cyclists stepped off the Bedford train at Hassocks and met with a ninth who had arrived by other, undisclosed, means. And so the Nine Riders set off on their grim pursuit of the One Ring, the Ring that … oh, hang on, that’s the wrong story! Angela D, David, Jim, Peter, Richard, Sikka, Tessa, Wendy and Wilma came just to enjoy a nice ride, beautiful scenery, stimulating conversation, and some well-earned refreshments at the end of the ride.

After dodging cars between Hassocks and Ditchling, Spatham Lane brought a welcome quiet and the chance to ride two abreast and natter. Then off-road on the farm track to Hayleigh Farm and beyond. The view across to the South Downs from this track is utterly breathtaking. We looked in vain for landmarks, but saw none except a curiously shaped wood on the scarp slope that takes the form of a giant letter V. Sikka explained that it is thought to stand either for Queen Victoria, or possibly for Victory. Unfortunately a photo was difficult to obtain because of the sun behind it, so I contented myself with a south-westerly view of a bare tree against the backdrop of the Downs.

The Downs from Streat

Later we encountered a certain amount of mud. A certain amount is OK, but more than that can be unpleasant. It was for this reason that we eschewed the northbound track from Hayleigh Farm in favour of the easterly route to Streat Church; the former track was pronounced too “mushy” by our valiant leader – and thus another word enters the Clarion lexicon.


                                                 Mushy mud

At the end of Streat Lane we turned east and made for the Plough at Plumpton, which we were supposed to speed past, but, Clarionettes being Clarionettes, we ended up having an impromptu coffee stop here. The Plough has featured on many rides, standing as it does at the confluence of five roads. (Interestingly, we learn from the internet that the present pub was built by the RAF in 1942, the original having been demolished to make way for Chailey airfield, half a mile away.)

We saw many other cyclists during the ride – some of the speedy Lycra set, and others going at a more leisurely pace. Most seemed in quite good humour, but one of the former group definitely wasn’t. As he approached us at speed in Chiltington Lane, he snarled “Get off the f___ing road!” OK, we were, perhaps, rather spread out laterally across the lane, but we would have let him pass anyway without such rudeness. His remark was for me a chilling echo of that uttered by a cyclist in London who, seconds later, hit and killed a pedestrian two years ago. I wondered how many cyclists there are out there who, untrained in road use, believe that they have some kind of monopoly of the road.

Warning us or warning others?

On to Cooksbridge, then a little detour along Hamsey Lane to avoid a section of the A275, crossing briefly into the Eastern Hemisphere at the Greenwich Meridian on the way.

Meridian sign

Rejoining said road at Offham, we were able to ride along the pavement until we got to the turn-off into Offham Road, where it was safe to re-enter the carriageway. On the way, Peter, Wendy and I stopped to look at the old Offham Chalk Pit which used to send lime down tunnels under the road to barges waiting on the river Ouse.

And so at last to lunch, at the John Harvey Tavern in Lewes. The food was excellent, and we agreed that there was something to be said for having the lunch at the end of the ride rather than in the middle, when the thought of getting up and cycling another 10 miles can be rather daunting on a full stomach.

Conversations over lunch and on the ride covered such topics as future rides, the Easter Meet (Wendy and I may go for the “social rides” … anyone else up for that?) and possible future weekend rides. We have not done one of these since 2014; there was a suggestion of a return to Kent, or another re-run of the New Forest, or even another trip to France. But my favourite option would be a repeat of 2012’s Bath-Bristol weekend, augmented this time by the Two Tunnels Route, which opened a year after that last trip. What does everyone else think?

We raced to the station, with Tessa, Peter and me just catching the 16.22 train, and the others no doubt not far behind. Thanks to our joint leaders, Tessa and Sikka, for another most enjoyable Clarion ride.


The Last Ride: Sunday 4th February 2018 Haywards Heath – Wivelsfield

6 February 2018

Four very well wrapped up Clarionistas (Jim, Sikka, Sean, Angela D and one guest rider, Peter) met on a bright but bitterly cold Sunday morning to go to Haywards Heath, that glorious centre of commuterland and suburbia. Our leader led us skilfully away from the traffic dominated excrescences of the outskirts, but not without some rumblings of discontent about the cold and the lack of coffee. One particular malcontent suggested coffee at Cuckfield, but then blithely cycled on when she failed to hear the others agree (being hard of hearing and with multiple scarves around my ears); however she redeemed herself by finding a café with a view, at Cuckfield golf club. For those who wish to follow in our tracks, the grid reference is TQ295258.

View from Cuckfield Golf Centre

A rather grainy photo of the view from the café with a view

Much restored by elevenses/second breakfast/morning coffee we sped off (this may be taken in more of a metaphorical sense, especially in the case of the writer, who is well-known for alighting at the bottom of a hill and wheezing loudly all the way up) to turn southwards after Slough Green along the delightful Broxmead Lane, where we navigated puddles and bridges and a pony rider with a duvet wrapped around herself and her horse. Clarionistas were united in the desirability of such winter garb and we promised ourselves to follow suit on further rides.

Broxmead Lane

Broxmead lane

At Goddards Green we lunched extremely well at The Sportsman; roast dinners and puy lentils done imaginatively. Talk was agreeable and united on such subjects as the failure of the railways and unreliable narrators, although I believe rugby or some such was also discussed. We toasted Julian in absentia and wished him a speedy recovery.

The leader has kindly provided the writer with a detailed breakdown of mileage and timing; alas it is well known that Jim’s strengths lie in the art of fiction, while the writer never deviates from fact, so these have not been incorporated into the report.

An excellent, pleasant ride, perfect for a cold but sunny winter’s day; an invigorating and enjoyable time was had by all. Many thanks to our leader who navigated us so well and found us the obscurely hidden cycle friendly ramp up to the southbound station at Wiveslfield.

Angela Devas

To which Sean adds: You’ll all be relieved that I retraced my steps to cuckfield golf club and collected me bag 👍🏻🚲

Cuckfield Golf Centre

The Last Ride. Sikka’s Report

12 January 2018

Sunday 7 January 2018: Cooden to Catsfield circular

Catsfield's other church
Catsfield’s other church

Present:   Jim, Wendy, Angela D, Tessa and Sikka.   On the long journey to Cooden Beach we changed trains at Eastbourne.    Attempting to leave our bikes locked on the platform we were warned we risked a £50 fine as police surveillance had already alerted the security staff of the potential threat they posed!   We moved them.

Out of Cooden Beach station we cycled northwards through quiet residential streets, eventually climbing our first hill up Peartree Lane. The discovery of hills on this route, having been absent from the outline for the ride and presumably not experienced on the previous, identical, excursion, it was concluded that climate change, with consequent continental drift, had caused tectonic plates to collide and raise the land around Cooden to new heights. Satisfied with this explanation we ploughed on.

We paused at High Woods carpark and noted signs for a quarry on the opposite side of the road.   On the way back we would pass on the other side of this quarry and see massive high towers of  building bricks.  Must be a brick-works??

Donkey silhouette

Skyline at the top of Potman’s Lane. Can you spot the donkey?

A delicious lunch at the White Hart in Catsfield was followed by an adventure in mud and water when the group opted to follow the longer, off-road route back to Cooden via Coombe Valley countryside park.     To recover from this ordeal, we took refuge in the Cooden Beach Hotel for a celebration of Tessa’s birthday with tea and scones and the singing of ‘happy birthday’.

The weather was cold but sunny with blue skies, a fine day to be on a bike.   The countryside was varied, lots of woods and fields and quiet lanes – and hills.

Altogether a delightful ride in good company.   Thank you Jim


Sunset sky at Cooden Beach

Sunset sky over Cooden Beach


The Brunch Ride – 2 January

12 January 2018

Clarion at Carats

L-R Anne, Mick, Coralie, Joyce, Leon, Wendy, Sue, Ian, Julia, Jim, Suzanne, Angela.

Reporter: Did you have a good start to the New Year?

Clarionette: It was great. We went to Carat’s café and had a good old chin-wag.

Reporter:  Who’s “we”.

Clarionette:  Well, there was Angela C and Angela D; Coralie, Fred and Ian; all the Js – Jim, John, Joyce and Julia with Leon, Mick, Roger Sue, Suzanne, not forgetting Wendy.

Reporter:  And what were your chins wagging about?

Clarionette:  The usual:  aches and pains; slipping gears and soggy saddles; Corbyn, Lucas and May; golf and grandchildren; holidays and housework; housing and homelessness. Everything really.

Reporter:  And a good ride there and back?

Clarionette:  Bracing might be the word.  A brisk south-west wind didn’t really slow us down after we’d set off from the Palace Pier on the way there and the tipping rain was more or less on our backs on the return journey.

Reporter:  And I suppose you all got there on your bikes?

Clarionette:  No comment.

Reporter:  Not even a hint?

Clarionette: State secret!

Reporter:  OK.  OK.  See you next year.