Dear fellow members and friends
27 February 2006
I've now heard from nearly all existing members plus three new ones and will be sending off our national subs (£4 per person) at the end of the week.
I attended the B&G Cycle reps meeting last Thursday, but there are one or two points I want to clarify before reporting back to you. In the meantime please send me your suggestions for issues for the next meeting and for ideas to pass on for publicising and promoting cycling in the city.
And this time, Brian Hutton takes us back to the days of the old Clarion section in the early '50s with memories of the Shoreham toll-bridge – back when tolls were collected. Next time he'll fill us in on 'cycling' tea-rooms and cafés from those days.
The Next Rides
Sunday 12 March
Centurion Way and loop towards the Hampshire Border – about 19 miles
The problems with what we've done on the Centurion Way to date have been 1) the unpleasant bit of main road between West Dean and the turn-off for the Lavant Valley … and one or other of the fairly big hills to climb out of it before gliding down to Chichester.
My idea is to take the trail as far as Lavant and then head west through West Stoke and Funtington to Woodmancote (which is quite near to the Hampshire border) where we might have lunch at the imaginatively-named Woodmancote Arms.
Then we head back towards Chichester, at first paralleling the main road but then veering north-east to rejoin the Centurion Way at the access point below the one we left at. From there we return to Chichester.
Catch the 10.17 * from Brighton or meet at Chichester station at 11.20. Best trains back 15.15 – arrives 16 00 or 15.53 arrives 16.56.
* There is the possibility of changing at Hove for a faster train. Both are Southern trains but changing platforms at Hove can be awkward so let's stick to the slower version.
Sunday 26 March
Haywards Heath – Borde Hill – Horsted Keynes – Lindfield
This ride takes us close to a route we took last Summer but uses different roads where possible and one or two new bridleways. Quite a few ups and downs but nothing too severe and not too long at 19 miles.
Meeting up at Haywards Heath station we'll head north and take a new path through Borde Hill Gardens. Diverting east we'll take the College Road to Ardingly and detour using a bridleway that goes through the College grounds. At Ardingly itself we'll head south and take the road to Horsted Keynes with the option of a stop at the Bluebell Railway. Taking the road to Cinder Hill we'll veer right and follow some quiet scenic roads and lanes through the grounds of Broadhurst Manor. We can have lunch at The Green Man in Horsted Keynes and then make our way back on quietish roads to Lindfield, where we can stop for tea, and on to Haywards Heath.
Catch the 10.16 from Brighton or meet at Haywards Heath station at 11.00. Plenty of return trains (3.33, 3.41, 4.03 etc.).
The Last Ride – Anne's report.
Sunday 26th February
Hassocks – Wineham – Hassocks
Bitter northeasterlies of 17 mph and cloudy skies were ominously forecast, but Joyce, Anne and Tessa assembled at the station and Sue soon joined us. Fred finally awakend from his post-party slumbers at 10am and realising that Ian's words on the web 'for late-risers' applied to him, rushed down and up to the station for the 11am train. Alighting at Hassocks we were met by Neil and Ian, the latter being on his home territory and the former having arrived by car. An innocent passer-by was press- ganged into an alluring photo-opportunity – the start of the Brighton Clarion Feb 26th ride. A text to Tessa announced that we need wait no longer for Suzanne (is that right?) [Helen?] as she would join us at the pub.
Tessa, Joyce, Sue, Anne, Neil, Ian and Fred
So we were off behind Ian in the yellow jersey soon cycling down pleasant country lanes with purple crocuses, clumps of snowdrops and great views to the right of us of the Weald and the world beyond, so we must have been going uphill a bit but barely noticed it as we were bustled along by the easterly wind. We passed a farm with a table offering some tempting bags of chicken manure which at first I thought would be just the thing to heat up my 5 compost bins, but then the threat of bird flu and its intimate connection to bird faeces made me realise it would be an unfortunate addition to my bike basket and thence lungs, for the rest of our trip, but I doubt there would be many enthusiastic takers in the present atmosphere of bird flu panic as France and Germany succumb.
Crocuses or is that croci?
Ian soon presented us with the choice of a shorter ride if we were feeling weak and wan in the wintry weather but all were for braving it out and how right we were as the sun shone, especially after lunch and then blue skies,even if a little light snow and a gentle sprinkling of rain in the morning did make me ponder.
Into Bob Lane – where's Tessa?
At Bob Lane with its pretty cottages and host of giant snowdrops, or early daffs, my eyes aren't so good and we didn't approach closely – we turned down. Tessa nearly made a spectacle of herself as she added to the puddle in a secluded gateway and 2 cars seem to appear from nowhere and pass her private moment.
The author of this report
On our right again was a huge Transco sub station taking us about ten minutes to circumnavigate the plantation. Pylons and electric derricks and Danger of Death signs proliferated. On our left was the line of the Downs so we were heading west again.
Ian looks out for stray spronketts
A few more lanes and farms, one with ponds and geese and 2 or 3 elaborate tree houses, a little bit of up and a little bit of down and we were at The Royal Oak at Wineham; a thirteen century inn with great rural charm but not the roast dinners that some of us had been craving, not even the hot soup that is promised for winter on the website.
Website says the same family have run it for the past 200 years and looked like little has changed. However, the sandwiches were hot, toasted and tasty and the rooms were quaint and friendly with delightful little nooks and crannies, doors and passages, inglenook fireplaces and helpful children delivering the food. I officially joined the Clarion Club and precipitously agreed to do the report, without having read the detailed previous reports on the website. Had I realised, I might have taken a few notes as I've probably got this all wrong and someone will have to edit, censure and rejig it to make it worthy of the website. Suzanne [Helen] and her friend [Marilyn] joined us at the table and regaled the chilled with tales of recent easycruising with Stavros in the Carribean and Joyce rejoiced in reminiscing of her life in Martinique. All this exotica heralded a sunny afternoon.
Outside The Royal Oak, with one extra rider
Feeling somewhat refreshed, a few extra crisps and calories still being consumed and a few more photos taken by Fred, we resumed our ride homeward to Hassocks. The hills seemed a bit harder as we faced the east wind, even though Ian told me, before correcting himself, that we were still heading west, then he said south. Blackstone Lane (?Is that right?) was an avenue of overhanging trees, 4 Elms Farm had magnificent elms that over arched the lane, oak leaves peppered the path and I thought I heard a bittern (unlikely) and Joyce saw an ostrich, maybe the source of putative bittern's boom.
View from the rear
At, was it Blacklands Farm(?), Ian stopped and offered Anne, Tessa, Neil and Sue the choice of going in for tea thus missing the 3.38 train, and having to catch the 4.38. We all chose 3.38 and Fred and Joyce started the trek uphill towards Hassocks without even stopping for discussion. The last lap, against the wind and against the clock proved challenging. I was desperate to keep up with Tessa who had looked at her watch and calculated that we needed to sprint. I was hopelessly lost and disoriented and didn't look back. We finally reached the station, in spite of my doubts and misguided shouts to Tessa, to take the wrong road. Neil said his goodbyes and Fred soon made up the rear. But where was Joyce as the train approached? I left my bike to go and search but she wasn't in sight. We hoped Ian was with her. As I got on the train with Sue, and the doors closed , Joyce just hoved into view and I shall be haunted by her image the wrong side of the train door, with an hour's wait, alone. Some Clarion members said Ian may be with her and sweep her up and ferry her home in his car. Sue tried to contact Ian or Joyce on her mobile but tunnels and cuttings cut off the signals and their phones were off. When we got to Brighton Fred tried again to make contact with our missing member, but his credit ran out and I had a half an hour trek home eastward uphill to get home and other distractions at home so didn't manage to phone Joyce either. So guilty feelings of lack of solidarity towards Joyce, whom I knew to have sciatica and to have been pedalling furiously, and who had encouraged me to join you all, will haunt my sleep, but, otherwise, a tremendous day and thanks very much to Ian for organising and shepherding and hopefully, saving Joyce from a long and lonely wait at Hassocks station.
[Note from Ian. I was convinced that Joyce had caught the train. Should have checked properly. Mea Culpa]
The Shoreham Toll-Bridge – half a century ago
by Brighton Clarion's Brian Hutton
The mention of Shoreham Toll Bridge in the 2005 Annual Report revived some old memories.
In the mid-1950s there used to be two toll collectors who stood in the road at the Red Lion end. One would collect money from the cars coming onto the bridge and travelling west and the other would collect the toll from cars coming off the bridge. They carried leather satchels. Cyclists had to pay an old penny.
I would often be among a dozen or so riders who headed west over the bridge during an evening training ride. Approaching the bridge we would get into single file and cross at speed. The front rider would callout that the rider behind would pay and so on right down the line – with the last rider taking evasive action as both collectors tried to thump him! It wasn't a question of not wanting to pay but of not wanting to hang around fumbling to find the money and if the riders in front hadn't stopped then you had either to follow suit or pay up for all of them and then have to chase to catch up.
The real fun came on the return journey a couple of hours later when the collectors would be on the lookout for us. Some riders would filter through the queuing cars, but if you didn't time it just right you would get a cuff round the ear when you passed by. Still it was good practice for taking evasive action during a race when riders fell in front of you during the final sprint!