Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  




Dear fellow members and friends

6 April 2010

Sackcloth and Ashes!

In planning our ride schedule and the ride for 18th April. I'd overlooked the impact of the Brighton Marathon. Fortunately, Fred has alerted me. Looking at the road closures - and the route which goes exactly the same way as we were planning - [Carats Cafe is for example recommended as a place to watch the runners go by] it's obvious that we can't do the Upper Beeding ride (about same distance as the marathon but a more interesting route!).

My next thought was to look for a different ride to do - but it became clear very quickly that a) it will be very difficult if not impossible for many people to get to the station and b) with 12,000 people actually entered for the run the trains will be full of marathon participants and spectators at the times we would want use them.

So, it looks like we'll have to miss out 18th April altogether. Which means that the next Sunday run will be Jim's one on 2 May. Except of course for our intrepid Dieppe party!

We'll try for Upper Beeding again on 16th May (unless there's something else I've overlooked!)

Apologies again



This is longer than usual – but there's a lot to report. Especially

The 115th National Clarion CC Easter Meet at Eastbourne

This was, of course, organised by our own Bob and Colette and took place at the Cumberland Hotel on Eastbourne seafront - and out on the road.

Helen, Jim and Mark took part in the 'leisure ride' (see Jim's report below); Fred, Jenny and Joyce, Sue and I also participated in at least some of the other events of the Meet - Jenny and Joyce for the first time. So, I'll begin this report with an overview from Jenny.

Easter Meet dinner

As a new Clarion member, and unaware of the history, I wondered what an Easter Meet entailed: Eastbourne's only a few miles away, so I went along out of idle curiosity to find out for myself. The hotel was very comfortable, and a little like a trip back in time to the 1950s, in the nicest possible way - must be the spirit of Eastbourne. The annual conference was an education in the minutiae of committee meetings. I was nominated as a teller (thanks Bob) - luckily no ballots were close enough to rely on my woeful maths. Sunday's marathon leisure ride through Pevensey Levels was fantastic (thanks Ian), in spite of the hailstorm and white van man*. The annual dinner and prizegiving was full of laughter, especially the arcane cross toasting (as in 'across', not 'bad-tempered'). Ian Clarke sold me a badge and a copy of Fellowship is Life, so now I understand the club's long and distinguished history. I thoroughly enjoyed my first Easter Meet - what a pity more people couldn't have been there to share the fellowship.
[See one of my notes on Jim's ride report - IB]

And Joyce writes:

It was a very pleasant sociable time, very good to meet so many open friendly people. It was particularly good to see the delegation from the West Lothian, who had cycled all the way following a circuitous route.

While Sue adds:

It was good to share the Easter Meet weekend in sunny Eastbourne with other Brighton and Hove Clarionettes. 

The route Joyce refers to certainly was circuitous though some of the West Lothian delegation - including not surprisingly 8-year-old Alex and his mum, Kirsty - had come by car. But what Matt and the rest had done - allegedly having been guided to this route by one of those electronic devices that purport to tell you the quickest way from A to B - was cycle down to Newcastle, get the ferry to Holland and then cycle (at c 80 miles a day) through Holland, Belgium and northern France before taking the ferry back to GB. Don't think I'll suggest doing likewise for the next Sunday ride.

Nothing of any great controversy was decided at the conference which occupied two and a half hours on Saturday morning. By general consent the best bits came at the end when as part of a (far too short) discussion on the future development of the Clarion reports were given by Matt, Secretary of West Lothian - which in 3 years has grown to more than 80 members - and Giles from North Cheshire which started in October 2009 (or thereabouts) and has now reached 38 members (i.e. about our size) on how they did it. We all found ourselves in agreement with everything they had to say - and indeed have done many of the same things - (but not always so energetically as these young folk!) As Joyce says:

It was the open discussion about the 'Future of the Clarion' which made me think. I was impressed with the dedication and commitment to the Clarion of the speakers. Essentially it was the beginning of what will be a continuing discussion about things like - do we continue with the Easter meets, how to get more people taking positions, is there a place for use of Facebook, Twitter etc? On membership - after a massive decline since the '30s it seems the club is on the up again and there is a concern to nurture this. West Lothian, a very new section, has 90 members! We heard from them about what they are doing to encourage people to join. In fact we are doing the very same things - 'nobody gets left behind' etc. However they do have several different groups.

Early on, our amendment - which would have reduced the junior subscription to £2 for everyone - and not just Go-Ride participants - surprisingly (well, I was surprised) provided the only controversial debate of the conference. The amendment originated with Bob at our AGM and he was to have moved it at the conference. Unfortunately having picked up a nasty bug in Ireland a few days before he felt ill at the crucial time and had to leave. So I did my best without an adequate brief. We lost the amendment - which given the strength of feeling on the issue it was clear we were always going to - but I think we clearly 'won' my point of order when the national secretary announced that if the amendment was passed the national committee was going to withdraw their original motion.

What! Have these people never read Citrine! Joyce backed me up with her usual procedural skill. A bit later I was able to make a contribution - badly needed - to hurrying business along by suggesting that there was no need to take a card vote when there was no opposition. So despite losing the amendment I felt our participation had a positive result.

At least there was time to hear what Matt and Giles had to say. But I don't want to give the impression that the conference was fractious and bad-tempered - far from it. I don't think I've ever been to one - of any kind - that was less so. And we all agreed that Go-Ride was something to be welcomed and supported. As Joyce puts it:

I was also interested in the discussion and decision on setting aside funds for 'Go-Ride' programmes. This is something to learn more about, but essentially it is about bringing younger people into cycling.

Earlier I'd asked a question on the accounts that Roger had suggested - and I'm afraid he will not only be getting a personal reply from the national treasurer but also be urged to take an active part in the auditing of the national finances. Sorry, Roger.

Jenny, Joyce, Sue and me then recovered from our conference exertions having decided against (No! really?) the 35 mile ride over Beachy Head. And, after a coffee and a sandwich, we strolled to the Towner Gallery where we were able to look at two new exhibitions - including Underwater which included a Bill Viola piece and which earned a rave review in Sunday's Observer - as well as the permanent collection. Our only complaint - or at least mine - was that none of Fred Pipes's work appeared in the East Sussex Open exhibition of local artists. And thanks to the permanent collection we all came away - if we weren't already - fans of Eric Ravilious's work from the 1930's and '40s. The evening featured a disco - and we all leapt around a bit - well, a lot in some cases, especially the super-energetic Joyce - but just a bit in mine. [Joyce says she could 'hardly walk' on Monday and blames Sunday's ride, but I think all that dancing in those salsa shoes the night before may have had something to do with it.]

Easter Meet disco queen

Jim reports below on the ride - I've just a few things to add which I'll save for that (see * in the ride report)

Fred, Jenny, Sue and I, as well of course as Bob and Colette, attended the annual dinner on Sunday evening. The 'cross-toasting' which Jenny refers to consists of individuals leaping up and saying that they'd like to 'take wine' with some category of those present - e g those who attended the 1948 Meet! Not something I take to very much to be honest (and why not, for a change?) and I've kept quiet at this point at the previous Meets but I felt it was appropriate to have a go this time and say I'd like to take wine (or Tizer) with anyone under the age of 10 who had been with us up the Cuckoo Trail and back over the Pevensey Levels. Little Alex who was wandering about taking photos at this point raced back and leapt onto his chair to acknowledge the toast!

The Clarion sometimes seems to have more cups and shields than members. Most, but by no means all are for racing achievements. I can't see us ever winning the award for the section with the largest total of bike miles ridden to the Meet - and like I'm sure, the rest of the Brighton contingent (except possibly Bob - in which case he might have warned us) we were astounded to suddenly hear Brighton and Hove section summoned to receive a cup. But I'll leave this story to Sue:

Easter Meet trophy

What a surprise when we won the splendidly impressive Neil Duckworth Memorial Trophy (more photos on Flickr) awarded to the Section with the largest number of members attending the Meet ... in spite of us all not being there together for the entire weekend and two of us strictly 'walking' members.  Prepare for next year's challenge, Brighton and Hove Section: competing for the trophy awarded to members cycling the greatest distance to reach the Easter Meet. It's likely to be held in Stirling.

So, if we want to go for the total mileage ridden award we'd best set out for Scotland next week - if not sooner. [Before the 'leisure ride', when I showed Alex the map of where we were going and got to the bit northbound up the Trail he said 'We going towards Scotland then'. I replied 'Yes, but we're taking a lunch break at the Kings Head'.]

We might possibly have kept the cup for the year - but even if custodianship had been confined to all who attended some part the Meet - 8 separate household by my count - sharing it out equally would have been a bit of a nightmare and we'd have actually had to make sure to get it back with our 2010 award suitably inscribed in time for next year's meet. So, reluctantly, we decided to surrender our custodianship after posing with it for a few photos.

All that remained was the raffle. Fred was one of the prizewinners but I can't remember what he chose! [I won a miniature bottle of whisky! - Fred] I'd had an email from Bob earlier in the week suggesting that each Section should provide a raffle prize. Sue and I thought it should be 'Brightonian' in some way and Sue bought a selection of teas, chocs and other goodies from the Pavilion shop - including an iconic stick of Brighton Rock and made it up into a small hamper. It was won by someone from West Lothian [North Cheshire, actually!].

Easter Meet raffle

So, there you have it. A good time was had by all - and see Jim's excellent report of the Ride below.

Thanks, once again, to Bob and Colette for their hard work in making it all possible.


Friends into Members? A Message from our Chair

Our membership is a healthy 41, but we also have about 60 other people receiving messages, some for years, who have never joined. In the light of the AGM discussions around membership I can't help wondering why that is.

There are a number of possible reasons of course:

Maybe people just don't get around to asking to be taken off? Maybe it's for information (although here I wonder why they don't just use the web site at their own convenience, where there are photos). Having become aware that we seem to be unique in this, I would be very grateful if those who are on the list but choose not to join the club (at a modest £6) could take a second out to let me know (and as I know Ian would want to say ... this does not mean you have to join).


Do reply to Joyce at

Better still, if you're not yet a member to go to the bottom of the home page, fill in the form and send it to Jim

Future Rides … for the rest of 2010

Sundays 2 (Jim), 16, 30 May; 13, 27 * June; 11, 25 July (Leon?); 8, 22 August; 5, 19* September; 3*, 17, October; 7, 21* November; 5*, 19 December.

Offers to organise/lead rides are more than welcome. The ones marked with a * are ones I already know I can't make - and there are likely to be a few others.

* * *

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s latest episode, as usual, are at the end of the circular. As with last time's advice on bike control, the details of bike maintenance may have changed but the principle is still a good one.


The Next Ride

Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us we each take part in rides at our own risk.

Sunday 18 April 2010
Upper Beeding - cancelled because of Brighton Marathon!

This is one we've always done at this time of year - except in 2008 when the Toll Bridge was closed for renovation. We have 4 members who live in Upper Beeding - the Beeding Sub-Section we might call them. It would be nice to meet all or any of them at the pub.

We'll follow the usual route to just before the Old Toll Bridge then the Coastal Link/Downs Link track to Bramber and on to The Bridge at Upper Beeding for lunch in the garden by the river if it's warm enough. For the return, as usual, we'll cross onto the Coombes road near Botolphs and then go to Shoreham Airport for tea. And then back over the Toll Bridge and through suburban back streets to Brighton (or Hove).

Architecture notes
After the seafront and Shoreham Harbour we'll be passing near a number of medieval churches - including the two Romanesque-Gothic Transitional ones in Shoreham: St Mary de Haura and St Nicholas. Near the latter where we'll join the Coastal Link along the track of the old railway line, there's a very good view across the river of Lancing College Chapel, described by Ian Nairn in The Buildings of England of expressing perfectly 'that elusive dream of the Gothic Revival'. At Bramber there are the ruins of the castle and what's left of St Mary's 15th-century house and on the way back more survivals from the Middle Ages in the parish churches at Botolphs and (my favourite) the tiny 11th-century one at Coombes before we get at least a distant glimpse of the terminal at Shoreham Airport which was used in at least one episode of Poirot to impersonate a Croydon airport and has appeared in similar disguise on a number of occasions.

Meet 10.30 by Palace Pier. If you live at the Hove end I suggest joining us near the King Alfred - outside Marrocco's café on the seafront where the cycle track goes round the houses
Distance: about 25 miles (Pier to Pier). Adjust according to where you live. We will be passing Shoreham station on the way back so anyone needing to could get the train for the final bit saving 6 or 7 miles.
Hills: Nearly as flat as the proverbial pancake except for a couple of small hills (we dodge the bigger one) on the Coombes road on the way back.
Off road: Seafront cycle path to (and from) the vicinity of Hove Lagoon, Link from Shoreham to Bramber and back as far as Botolphs.
Refreshments : Lunch at The Bridge. Tea stop at Shoreham Airport.

My mobile: 0789 985 1172

The Last Ride - Jim's Report

[I've added a few extra bits at the end – see * Ian]

Sunday 4 April 2010(Easter Sunday)
Clarion Easter Meet: 30-mile* 'Leisure' Ride

[More photos on Flickr]

This ride produced a record turnout, but then one would expect that given that it was the Clarion Easter Meet, and therefore open to all 550-odd members in the country. Those participating were: Ian, Fred, Helen, Jenny, Joyce, Mark and myself from the 'home team', with Bob joining us at the pub*; Charles Harvey from London; Bill Edgington from Dorset; Kerstin Bonau, Tobias Bauer, Matthew Ball, Alex Ball and Neil Heyes from West Lothian; John Clayton from Calder; Giles Perkins from North Cheshire; David Bisset,* Tony Bowles and Stephen Menhams from Bolton; and Ian Clarke* from Fenland. There was also someone wearing a jersey emblazoned with the slightly alarming words 'Bury Clarion', but after a few seconds of thought I realised it was not a command but an affiliation - however I unfortunately did not get the person's name. The Brighton & Hove contingent was particularly pleased to welcome Mark, who has recently re-joined after a spell in the USA.

Easter Meet leisure riders

Mind you, the number of riders seemed to change by the hour; 21 set out from the Cumberland Hotel in Eastbourne, but only 20 arrived at the pub, the King's Head at Lower Horsebridge. (We never did find out who the missing person was, or where they went!) Then when we left the pub there were only 14 of us (some of our number having gone off to see the Long Man), and pretty soon we were down to 12 - we had lost Joyce and Jenny! They had gone the wrong way, repeating (but the other way round) Anne's mistake six weeks earlier during what has become known as 'The Wet Ride'. In recognition of that, the junction of the B2104 and A271 has now been named 'Barry's Bane'. Mobile phone communication saved the day, however, and we were soon reunited, and in fact augmented by another group who had possibly gone by a different route.

Over the bridge

Earlier, we had put the more boring bits of Eastbourne behind us and joined the southern section of the Cuckoo Trail at Willingdon Levels, running alongside the A22 before branching out westwards towards Polegate, This was my first experience of this section of the Trail, and it was interesting to note that it appears to follow the course of the old railway line from Polegate to Stone Cross for part of its length. (Of course, railway buffs will know that the main Cuckoo Trail is part of the old railway from Polegate to Redgate Mill Junction near Crowborough.)

Inside the Kings Head at Horsebridge

Doing our best to suppress horrific flashbacks of that cold, soggy ride on February 21st, we entered the pub to find a chaotic scene - the place was full of Clarionettes and yet there were even fewer tables than last time, the restaurant having encroached into the bar space. I'll never understand how, but somehow we all managed to have some lunch, with cheesy chips and other goodies being duly photographed by Fred.

Kerstin's cheesy chips

Leaving the King's Head, we took the B road to Hellingly and then struck out eastwards towards the Levels via Magham Down. Around this time it started to hail, and waterproofs were hurriedly donned. We followed the inspiringly named Under Road and Lower Road, and somewhere along here Neil got a puncture.* Of course, since our motto is 'Fellowship is Life', we left Neil and his colleagues to it and pressed on. Well, they were the super-fast brigade anyway, and sure enough, before you could say 'Lack of Fellowship is Death', they were alongside us once more.

A puncture (but not our group!)

We got very spread out as we crossed the Levels, and when we reached the top of the hill (oh yes! the Levels do have a hill! It is at Horse Eye, where the sole 10-metre contour is encountered) there were yellow coats and red-and-yellow jerseys stretched out as far as the eye could see. In fact we lost some of our number for good here; by the time we got to Pevensey Castle we were down to the core group of a dozen or so once more. Jenny told me that there used to be an outfit known as 'The Pevensey Levels Mountain Rescue Team' which found it had very few opportunities to spend the money it raised and consequently spent an awful lot of time in the local boozer. Hmmmm.

Pevensey Castle (Roman wall)

The silvery dome of the Isaac Newton Telescope at Herstmonceux shone in the sun on the horizon; this was the last dome to be built, and since the Observatory was already established by then, the requirement for green domes was dropped by the local authority. At Rickney*, Stephen and I took a wrong turn and had to use the phone again. All my fault: I had asked him to pose with a horse while I repeatedly pressed the wrong button on my camera.

Stephen and the Horse

Arriving back at the hotel (having passed the intriguingly named Pennine Way en route), the clock was showing nearly 30 miles and various parts of our anatomies were approaching paralysis. As we sat down to the long-awaited cup of tea and cake, we were sobered by the thought that Alex, at EIGHT YEARS OLD, had completed the same 30 miles as the rest of us at the same speed! That lad will go far. Well, in fact, he already has.

Alex and Matthew from West Lothian Clarion

Thanks to Ian for organising the ride. It was a rare opportunity to meet Clarionettes from other parts of the country. It was particularly good to meet our relatively near neighbour, Bill from Dorset, and I remain hopeful that we may manage a joint ride in the New Forest sometime. Also Charles asked to be added to our mailing list, and we hope he will come out with us again; in fact, with five members and one 'honorary member' in London as well as Charles, perhaps we will even manage to do another London ride before the year is out.


* 30 miles? Not according to my computer. I think Jim may be forgetting that he - heroically - went back to rescue those left behind at the pub - which added about a mile. I did some back-tracking too as well as riding to the station and back to collect the Brighton contingent before the ride. With all that included my computer gives 29.06 miles. But I guess both my prediction - c 26 mls and Jim's 30 mls are near enough

Bob had led a longer (44 mile) Club ride and had left at c 9.30 with two others.

David Bisset is chair and Ian Clarke secretary of the National Clarion. David came with us from the start. Ian had been involved in racing earlier in the morning and joined us at the pub.

Neil and Co - the superfast brigade - had done the longer ride and overtaken us at Magham Down - about ten minutes before we came on them changing the tyre. One of Neil's friends (?) suggested that he ask Tobias (originally from Germany) what schadenfreude meant.

Jim was a little bit 'off the back' and the front of the ride was waiting at the Rickney junction when the 'white van man' incident that Jenny refers to in the Meet report took place. The driver seemed to think that we'd no right to be on the road and not only shouted at those of us gathered near the junction but also drove intimidatingly and bawled at the next group rounding the bend. I was so angry I shouted back and suggested he come back and have a fight! Fortunately, my challenge was not taken up.


The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s

58. Manchester CCC's Knutsford ride and Swiftsure on cyclists and pedestrians

At the end of his regular "Cycling Notes" in the Clarion on 4 May 1895 Swiftsure wrote:

I am requested by the secretary of the C.C.C. Manchester and District to mention that tomorrow (Saturday) their club run is to Knutsford* and they propose to make it a social. Friends and relations are invited to come by train. Cheap excursions are usually run to Knutsford on Saturday afternoon, and given fine weather it is hoped that a goodly number of Clarionettes will avail themselves of this cordial invitation.

* Knutsford is, of course, the 'original' of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford.

And the following week - 11 May - Swiftsure alerted readers to more dangers to cyclists - and pedestrians.

The publicity which has latterly been given to the fact that a society has just been started in Paris, having for its object the obstruction of cyclists by pedestrians has made me think that a few words on this subject may not be thrown away. It is the general opinion among cyclists that the proper place for the foot passenger is the pathway, and if he persists in walking on the roadway the cyclist would be justified in running into him.

Whoever thinks this, however, had better disabuse their minds of such an idea at once. By law the pedestrian has the first right of way on the road; the footpath is merely made for his convenience. All vehicles - amongst which bicycles are included - must be driven so as not to be dangerous to the pedestrian. If every cyclist will bear this in mind, and accommodate his progression accordingly, much of the friction and annoyance felt by the general public towards cyclists would speedily disappear.

Next time: More Clarion Cycling Clubs

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