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!).

The Easter Meet

30 April 2014

Clarion trophies

The 119th Clarion Cycling Club Easter Meet took place this year at Beverley. It is a town with many claims to fame apart from being the county town of the East Riding of Yorkshire. Among the horse racing fraternity it is well-known for its race course. Those interested in British nineteenth century history recall that criminal malpractice during parliamentary elections there reached such heights that even parliamentarians, most of whom had at least dabbled a bit in bribery and corruption, were shocked into taking action. Shoreham in our own area was probably the other most notorious example (see below).


Devotees of gothic architecture go there for the magnificent Beverley Minster and, at the other end of the town, opposite the Beverley Arms hotel which served as this year’s HQ for the Clarion, the almost equally magnificent St Mary’s. The hotel itself is known among the literati for its appearance, thinly disguised as the Percy Standard, in Trollope’s “political” novel of 1871, Ralph the Heir which among other things dealt with election corruption based on Trollope’s experience as a Liberal condidate in Beverley – which appears as Percycross in the novel. The Beverley Arms was also the goal of many of Philip Larkin’s cycle trips from Hull. He always treated himself to a cream tea there. Opposite, in St Mary’s its white rabbit is, allegedly, the inspiration of the Lewis Carroll character. Much remains of the Georgian elegance of its fashionable 18th century past and the medieval gateway at the North Bar still survives.

The White Horse aka Nellies

The Brighton and Hove delegation – Bob, Fred, Sue and myself – were also delighted with a unique pub, conveniently near the hotel. Fred, who had done his research on such essential matters before leaving Brighton, had already flagged it up as well worth a visit – or two. Officially the White Horse, it is universally known – even in the local tourist information office – as “Nelly’s” (sometimes spelled “Nellies”) after a notable landlady of the past. The Samuel Smith beer at £1.80 a pint is certainly one of its attractions, but its singularity lies in the fact that it resisted – and long will continue to resist, one hopes – the trend of knocking everything into one open-plan bar and retains a labyrinth of comfortably sized small rooms all lit – and this is the most amazing bit – by gaslight.

Brighton Clarionettes

So, a good time was had by all. Only Bob, among the four of us, had remembered to take a bike and he did make an error, rather reminiscent of some of my own “exploits” by setting off a little late to catch up the other riders – but in the wrong direction. But all came out right in the end. The rest of your delegation confined themselves to more sedate activities such as the local history tour of the town.

North Bar Gate, Beverley

But serious business was not entirely neglected. At the AGM/conference one mystery was solved. Julian and others have asked me about the non-appearance of 2014 membership cards. It seems that the increase in national membership has made the membership secretary’s job – at least in the form it has been carried out – so onerous as to be almost impossible, and Donald Lever is stepping down in a few months time. It’s hoped that a solution will be found before then. This problem which may need paying for professional assistance if it is to be resolved, together with the costs of producing and sending out Boots and Spurs are the main reasons for the move to increase the membership fee by £2 p a. Our own AGM had instructed us to listen carefully to the arguments for the motion that proposed this with the expectation that the increase would probably need to be supported. At the conference the only opposition to the increase came from a minority that argued that a larger increase would be necessary to solve the outstanding issues and that the decision should be deferred until the costs were more precisely known. We listened, conferred, and cast our 28 votes – reflecting our membership as of the “cut-off point” of 5 April in favour of the motion.

In the words of our AGM minutes “It was agreed to ask the National Committee to consider extending the date for section AGMs by a month to 13 March” I had managed to sort this out before the Meet so there was no need to raise it formally at the conference. The next AGM is not till next year and this report is getting rather long so I’ll save further explanation till another time.

Bob was re-elected as Standing Order Secretary but there were many positions for which there were no volunteers. One can’t complain when one isn’t prepared to take something on oneself. But North Cheshire did say they would sort out the national website (for free) and our friends from the London section volunteered to have a serious look at the membership problem.

It was nice to see old friends from other Clarion sections, not least our friend – and fan of this newsletter – Peter Roscoe. We learnt – from others rather than Peter – of his exploit a few weeks ago on 30 March which took the form of abseiling down the Peel tower to raise money for charity. Peter said it was easy – he’d done it before. But that turned out to have been in the 1960s – not at the age of 79! Don’t miss this on YouTube.

Moves are now afoot to persuade him not to take up sky-diving.

One thing that was very noticeable was the preparations for and promotion of the first two stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire – even in parts of the county well away from the race route. Sue and I visited Wensleydale after the end of the Meet. The peleton will flash through Hawes in about 30 seconds on the 5 July and may miss the large banner welcoming them to the Wensleydale Creamery – which raises visions of Gromit contesting the sprint with Mark Cavendish et al at the end of the stage in Harrogate!


Beverley Minster

The 118th Clarion Easter Meet

8 April 2013

The Brighton five

The Clarion Easter Meet this year was in the hilly Yorkshire resort of Scarborough, in a hotel with magnificent sea views. The weather was surprisingly bright, with no snow in sight. It started on Good Friday evening with a Meet-the-Mayor reception with added home-made cake. She seemed pleased to have the Clarion in town. On Saturday morning, it was the AGM (or was it the annual conference?). Along with the (re)election of officers, there was a heated debate over what standards to apply to veteran’s race results. The outcome was to leave things as they are but review in two years. Pity Andrea, the poor North Cheshire delegate, a newish member, alone at her first Meet, with no mandate and 225 votes to wield! She wisely abstained (as did we). Our membership secretary issued a plea (from afar) for ideas on how to make issuing membership cards easier, now that we are the biggest cycling club in the UK.

The other big topic was how to attract more people to the Meet – only 66 from a membership of 1150 were here. Matthew of West Lothian suggested we change the time of year. Ian confirmed that there was no historical reason why it had to be Easter, and it was decided to hold a survey of members. The rest of Saturday was free, some going on a local history walk, some even cycling. Those that cycled to Flamborough Head and back even had enough stamina to bounce around at the Ceiligh that night. Again, there was a great spread to tuck into.

Group shot

On Sunday, after the group photo, Sue drove Ian and I up to the popular town of Whitby, via Robin Hood’s Bay. Climbing back up those steep steps was my work-out for the day. As a reward we took a diversion to Grosmont and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, mainly so I could report to Jim all about the interesting foot tunnel – and of course to breath in that sulphurous coal smoke.

At the gala banquet on the Sunday night, the Brighton Five – Ian, Sue, Bob, Colette and Fred – shared a table with Stockport section. Needless to say, we didn’t win any of the magnificent racing trophies or the important Tom Groom trophy named in honour of the “O Groomie O” who appears in the Clarion extracts from the 1890s so frequently. Bob did at least take part in the cycling, and we were able to bask in the reflected glory of Stockport’s, and particularly Duncan Mclaren’s, achievements. All the results will be in Boots and Spurs in due course. There was much mirth at the traditional cross-toasting, led by Bob, and the guest speaker did a very egg-citing experiment, leaving everyone, particularly the junior members, open-jawed. We still don’t know the location of next year’s meet, but wherever it may be, it’ll be a great weekend. Why not come and join us!


Scarborough, from the hotel

All I can add to this characteristically eloquent report is that on the Saturday afternoon the entire B&H contingent – minus Fred, who had “bailed out” on account of the likely gradients involved – took part in a local history walk organised as part of the Meet. We began at a churchyard near Anne Brontë’s grave and learnt much about the fascinating past of Scarborough. The most surprising thing as far as I was concerned was the survival of at least two late medieval timber-framed houses just behind the seafront of more or less continuous “amusement” arcades. But wasn’t it bitterly cold? – as Colette and the others will I’m sure agree!


News and Easter Meet Report

17 April 2012

Dear fellow members and friends, 

Joyce and Leon were quick to jointly respond to my appeal for volunteers for 6 May (see rides list below). That takes us up to June, but don’t delay if you have an idea for a ride!

I mentioned the work still ongoing on the Cuckoo Trail in the last newsletter and included the Southern Water contacts for anyone wanting to check exactly what’s happening. But somehow the “uk” got left off Keith Jeffery’s email. It’s

Joyce will be leading her intrepid band on the Bath–Bristol weekend at the end of the week. Everyone who’s going will have all the necessary info. You will all have had the details I sent out last week about the Chichester-based “stay-at-homes” ride – which are repeated below. To date I have two (more or less) “definites” and another two “possibles”, so I think we will be able to go ahead with it. Anyone else interested? I’ll confirm it (or otherwise) in good time later in the week (late Friday or early Saturday).

This is a bumper issue for reports. John nobly leapt into the breach and provided an account of the 1 April ride – I know it’s already appeared via the Google group and on the blog, but not everyone sees those so I’m including it here [in the emailed Circular].

Bob has done a splendid report on the Easter Meet. The Millers’ Dale cycle route sounds just our cup of tea. I think Jim – particularly – would enjoy the tunnels! I’ve cut back the 1890s extracts a bit to avoid this newsletter becoming a book.

Roger has sent on some information about “Cycling against Malaria”, a cause I’m sure we all support :

Christian Aid are organising two rides to raise funds to provide bikes for Malaria Control Agents in Zambia so they can work more efficiently.

18–22 July: London to Paris, arriving in time to see the final of the Tour de France.
22–23 September:  Cathedral to coast, from London to Weymouth, passing some of England’s finest cathedrals.

More details at:

And well spotted, Fred – the Clarion House café on Countryfile. Just over 15 minutes in, if you’re watching it on Catch-up TV. Good to see they’re still doing pints of tea!


Easter Meet 2012 – Buxton

First visited for an Easter Meet in 1912, Buxton retains an air of grandeur, being partly modelled on Bath. The snow added to the initial attractiveness. Colette and I arrived on Thursday, glad to have brought our flannel undies. The Palace Hotel, Meet HQ, was a gothic monster, now a little faded, but with glorious feature plasterwork and sweeping staircase.

Friday morning had the 33-mile mountain time-trial. Did we take part? Yes, but only to the extent of watching the 100 or so competitors warm up, and then enjoying a mug of strong tea and sponge cake at Longnor village hall whilst noting the results board.

Clarionettes were received on Friday evening by the Mayor in the magnificent Conservatory and Pavilion attached to the Opera House. We returned there on Sunday for a book fair, where I was tempted by a Hercules bicycle catalogue for 1903, but not as far as parting with £60 for it.

Saturday morning was Conference time. Expected to be non-controversial, it sprang into life over a motion from the committee to restrict Sections’ voting strength to senior members only. Remission back to the Committee was the most harmonious outcome.

The Pavilion “Gardens” were large enough for a Saturday afternoon of junior road races in one corner and, provided one was warmly dressed, proved entertaining between warm drinks. I joined a late afternoon club run round the Goyt Valley, riding between banks of drifted snow in places.

Back in the Pavilion for the evening we enjoyed a low-volume disco, with young bloods in extravagant fancy dress including two Zorros, and a lovely period buffet, probably remaining over from Abigail’s Party.

On Sunday morn I made a definite mistake. I joined the energetics club run over Axe Edge, past the Cat & Fiddle, round Shining Tor, etc. etc. Merely misty in the valleys, it was wet, foggy and windy on the tops, with the better riders charitably waiting as I grovelled up the worst hills. I walked more times than I care to admit. The run was curtailed when it was clear that only further soaking lay ahead.

The leisure riders tried the newly completed Miller’s Dale cycle route along the former Buxton – Matlock rail bed, with its five illuminated tunnels and as many viaducts, and almost level terrain. Midway energy intake was a Bakewell pudding [sic], what else? And, yes, it was merely a little misty in the valley, relatively dry. I admit I wish I had been with them!

A sparky Sunday night Clarion Dinner, with guests ranging from the fortnight-old daughter of the National Secretary (she has been a Clarion member for all her short life) to a more mature member who attended an Easter Meet in Buxton in 1948.

Special guest was the 24-hour record holder Andy Wilkinson. In last June’s event he rode 541 miles over Sussex roads! That is 198 miles more than I had previously managed. His HPV record is Lands End to John O’Groats in 41 hours in a cigar-shaped streamlining over a recumbent machine! On my first End to End I was still in Cornwall 41 hours after leaving Lands End.

It was an inspiring weekend, particularly when hearing of new Sections opening from Cambridge to Coatbridge, seeing the young riders in the park and hearing of the growth of numbers of juniors in local Sections.



116th Easter Meet

3 May 2011

The reports arrived in good time and I intended to get this newsletter out yesterday – the day following the ride – as usual, but the really bad cold that has invaded me during the last few days left me without enough energy to get it completed. Feeling a bit better now. Sorry for the delay.

116th Easter Meet

Sue and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in Stirling. So, I’m sure, did the other B&H representatives Bob and Colette. We got a round of applause when the Secretary mentioned that we had come the furthest of any of the participants – completely undeserved in our case at least since we took the opportunity of having a little Scottish break including a couple of days in Skye – highly recommended – and visiting friends en route.

Our friend Peter Roscoe, who has retired after several years as Treasurer, is a regular reader of these newsletters. During the conference he went out of his way to say that in his judgement our section exemplifies what the Clarion should be; I think if he lived a bit nearer than Bury we might be able to tempt him out on some of our rides. Anyway, the kind words were much appreciated.

There has been a huge increase in membership over the past year – from 553 last year to 810 this year; a 46% increase. The target of 1000 by the time of the 2011 Meet in Buxton looks very attainable. But the big increase is not without its problems. It’s creating more work for the national officers. Anything we can do to help, we should do.

The various motions and rule changes all went through. I did, as I had said I would, put forward the idea that when creating new competition awards we didn’t need always to think in terms of shields and cups, but the immediate problem was solved since it turned out that there was a “redundant trophy” that could be used for the new purpose the Bury section were proposing