|Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club|
Reports from Spring 2009
[More photos on Flickr]
Sunday 30 May 2010
Assembled at the Palace (sorry, Brighton) Pier were Anne, Ian, Jenny, Joyce, Mick, Nick, Roger, and Suzanne, soon to be joined by John just after we set off. At Marrocco's we were joined by Alice, Richard and Sandra.
There was a chilly headwind as we made our way past Carat's Café ('How do you make gold soup? Use 22 carrots') and over the lock gates at Shoreham. In Portslade all too soon Suzanne bid us farewell. The rest of us rode along the Coastal Link track, where before too long we came across Leon. He had been on his way to meet us when he fell in with a group of young lady cyclists who needed the use of his bicycle pump while mending a puncture (at least that was his version of events).
And so eventually we came to the Rising Sun at Upper Beeding, having been unable to go back to our usual haunt The Bridge, which has closed. We took over the conservatory and most of us enjoyed lunch. However, those who chose the tomato soup found it pretty well inedible - an unpleasant taste and smell, and too much cream. Perhaps it was what the late US comic Milton Berle used to refer to as 'cream of yesterday' - it didn't even warrant a photo. (In fact this report breaks new ground in not including any pictures of food, as far as I know - I'd rather see pictures of people anyway!)
After lunch everyone adjourned to the garden and sat in the sun before setting off back to Shoreham. Leon left us along the way. Some of us went to the airport for the now-traditional tea and cake on the terrace - Anne and Mick didn't stop but went on to catch up with Alice near Carat's and check she wasn't suffering from after-effects of the unbeautiful soup ('Beautiful soup, so rich and green. Waiting in a hot tureen!', sang Lewis Carroll's Mock Turtle), which had made Anne feel unwell. We should all be aware that the 18th-century name for a tomato was Lycopersicon esculentum, which translates as 'edible wolf's peach' (they were believed to be rather poisonous…).
Leaving the airport we headed over the Toll Bridge, past the mud flats disappearing under the tide, and into Hove through Southwick and many little suburban back streets. As we rode along, one by one riders left the group to head home, after a very enjoyable day covering what was familiar territory for most of us. Thanks Ian - lovely ride as usual, apart from the soup! If only it had been bean soup, I could have included the old joke: 'I know it's bean soup, but what is it NOW?'
Sunday 17 May 2009
8.30 am Pitter-patter raindrops, pitter-patter raindrops (Trad.)
10.30 am Joyce's wet through! (anon.)
11.30 am Hail, Hail, the gang's all here (D. A. Esrom 1915)
12.30 am 'Watch out you don't get mashed' (I. Bullock 2009)
1.30pm Picnic time for teddy bears (Jimmy Kennedy 1932)
2.30 pm Everything stops for tea (Goodhart, Hoffman and Sigler 1935)
3.30 pm Show me the way to go home (folk song popularised by 'Irving King' in 1925)
4.30pm I'm dying for a piece of cake (J. Edmund-Smith 2009)
PS. If you're not taking part yourself, Joyce is more than willing to accept your sponsorship for the Tollbridge Ride on 5 July She's at email@example.com
Sunday 3 May 2009
[More photos on Flickr]
We had had several 'apologies for absence' for this ride, so I was wondering how many would make it. And sure enough, the group of Clarionettes that assembled at Hassocks Station did seem rather meagre, until one realised that that was only in comparison to recent bumper turnouts of 16 or 17. In fact there were nine of us – Ian, Jeff, Jenny, Jim, Joyce, Leon, Richard, Roger and Suzanne – a very respectable number.
Ian's plan had been to take the usual route – the B2116 – to Hurstpierpoint, but Leon stepped in with his local knowledge and showed us the back way, via Semley Road – the way we went on 8 March (not 22 February as it says on the website) but then turning left into Friars Oak Road, across the A273 and onto the golf course. Was this a Clarion first – riding on a golf course? Some of us were rather worried about the prospect of getting cuffed with a No. 12 iron (or whatever it is that golfers use) or simply being accidentally knocked out by a stray ball moving at nearly the speed of light – but off Leon went, across the grass, then through a narrow passageway, and all nine of us made it through alive. We emerged into College Lane, back onto the original route, and Ian took over the lead. We saw a stunning carpet of wild garlic, and fields of brilliant yellow oilseed rape, under a canopy where blue sky seemed to fight a constant battle with the clouds, and coats came off and went back on again as the temperature demanded.
Round Hurstpierpoint College, then into Pomper Lane and Pookbourne Lane, two more names to be added to the Interesting Road Names gallery. These were both lovely, quiet, flat, Clarionesque lanes; nevertheless, Leon managed to fall off at the start of Pookbourne, and, trying in vain to steady himself on my bike, eventually brought me down too. No broken bones though, and we continued to the bridge over the A23 intersection at Hickstead, which had been the scene of a much more serious accident in 2008 when Marie Vasco was knocked off her bike and killed by a car whose driver was too busy negotiating the slip road to notice her.
Leaving that horror behind, we took Hickstead Lane to Twineham Green and then Bob's Lane; and so to our lunch venue, the Royal Oak.
Disaster! No cheesy chips! So Jeff broke with tradition and had a ploughman's, along with most of the rest of us; two had soup, and Leon had brought a picnic. The lunchtime conversation was fascinating – first Joyce gave us a first-hand account of her G20 protest experience, when a line of aggressively-clad police had advanced on a group of non-violent demonstrators, pushed a musician hard in the chest and knocked both him and Joyce over in a completely unprovoked attack. Then the conversation developed into a political argument in which the crisis of capitalism and various remedies for it were passionately discussed. When I protested that it was going to be hard to get it all down in the report, Roger quoted a poem about the trials and tribulations of the minute-taker:
After lunch, we continued southwards through Wineham, and over the River Adur, here a much diminished cousin to the great estuary at Shoreham, and some of us wondered exactly where it rises, since none of the tributaries that feed it to the east of the bridge are named on the map. On to Blackstone, with its fake well; then to Woodmancote, crossing the A281 and taking Bramlands Lane, where we saw what some of us thought were emus and others thought were ostriches – my birdwatching friend has now confirmed that they were ostriches. Then Holmbush Lane, and finally the A281 claimed us for a short death-defying dash to what is shown on my map as Poynings Crossways (but nowhere near Poynings) and the slightly less dangerous B2117.
A tea stop at Washbrooks Farm was suggested, but Joyce needed to get home, so Leon gallantly went with her, reporting back by phone when she was safely despatched to Hassocks Station. The remaining seven of us joined the chickens, turkeys, ducks and other wildlife for a cup of tea or coffee and (in my case) a slice of lime drizzle cake, and Ian and Roger continued the political discussion (I distinctly heard the names 'Marx' and 'Engels', so it was not exactly idle chit-chat!), before summoning up the energy for the final leg, back to Hassocks. Here we found we had just missed a train, so the five of us (the Washbrooks Seven minus Ian and Jenny who had brought cars) spent 45 minutes chatting pleasantly about all manner of things including the silliness of some of our school friends' names.
This was my last ride for a while, as I have my toe operation coming up – so I hope everyone enjoys the next few outings, and I will be back as soon as I am able to cycle again. Thanks to Ian for a lovely meander around rural Sussex on a beautiful Spring day.
Sunday 19 April 2009
There was sunshine but a cool wind as we assembled at the Palace Pier to ride to Upper Beeding. We were Ian (our leader), Alan, Fred, Geoff, Leon, Roger, Sue, Suzanne, Stephen and Terry. Three more joined in Hove, Alice, Jenny (on her first Clarion outing) and Richard. And waiting at the Toll Bridge in Shoreham were Angela and Jim.
The ride was easy, one hill (after lunch unfortunately but no one complained) and some patchy mud on the Coastal Link between Shoreham and Bramber. The large number meant going single file and still delaying a few motorists in the heavily parked suburban streets (but no one complained – not even the motorists, at least not audibly).
Lunch at The Bridge in Upper Beeding. The weather was just good enough for most of us to sit in the fairly sheltered garden. A small contingent chose to go inside. It says a lot for a pub that the arrival of fifteen hungry and thirsty cyclists on a Sunday lunchtime was met with calm and friendly efficiency. The meals took a little while to arrive, but there were fifteen of us (and no one complained, in spite of growing hunger pangs).
There was much chat about the Clarion Easter meet in Ramsbottom, attended by Fred and Ian, and about the Isle of White two-day event led by Jim. We were joined after lunch by yet another member, Bob our racing secretary and also a member of the national Clarion committee. He told us that he had volunteered to organise next year's national meet in Eastbourne. His reward was to be allowed to have a go at fixing Angela's front brakes, which had been causing trouble for some time. Having fixed the brakes he demonstrated the effectiveness of his work by using them to throw himself over the handlebars!
Seconds after leaving Upper Beeding we were in Bramber and some minutes later we were sitting down to tea and other delights at Shoreham airport. Several flights from the airport may have been delayed by those members who had chained their bikes to the gate used by the pilots to get to their planes.
The final leg of the journey took us over the newly re-opened Toll Bridge. At which point the peeling off started, so that by the time the ride arrived back at the pier (26.5 miles later), there were only three riders left. It was 26.5 miles pier to pier, according to my milometer – and no one complained!
Thanks to Ian for another enjoyable day out!
4 & 5 April 2009
[Many more photos - and videos! - on Flickr]
Participants: Fred, Angela, Angelika, Amanda, Nick, Jeff, Annie, Jim, Tessa, Joyce, Catherine and Alice
Day 1 Saturday 4 April
After a week of wonderful sunny weather, five of us, Joyce, Fred, Jim, Jeff and Alice arrived at Brighton station to catch the 09:03 train to Portsmouth Harbour. The weather was grey and overcast with rain in the air. After a brief discussion on the advantages of one or two panniers and quickly learning how to balance the bikes with the extra weight, we boarded the train. At Hove station, Tessa joined us and at Portslade, Annie. We spent the journey viewing a selection of old and new maps excitedly looking at our intended route on the Isle over the next two days. Soon we were at Portsmouth harbour where Angelika, Angela, Nick, Amanda and Catherine [Catherine popped up in Ryde, having taken the hovercraft! - Fred] were waiting to join the party. The clouds cleared and sun sparkled on the harbour water.
After refuelling with refreshments and concerns over a possible lack of gears on Angela's bike, we boarded the Seacat singing 'I've got a ticket to Ryde'. Effortlessly we glided over the busy water to Ryde pier head passing many yachts and an American fleet aircraft carrier.
After many group photographs, we cycled along the pier and through Ryde up a steep route to magnificent harbour views across to Portsmouth and the Spinnaker tower. Soon we were off road following the footpath to Quarr and Binstead; progress was slow with stopping for many photo opportunities of thatched cottages etc and walking quietly through woods hoping to catch a sight of red squirrels. Either we were too noisy or passing through at the wrong time but no squirrels were seen. Another distraction was the sighting of a Red Kite, but it glided too quickly for photos to be taken.
After passing many white wood anemones we stopped to read a poem about a Bee written on a large stone on the ground before the gate on the footpath leading to Quarr Abbey. Once through the gate we stopped to listen to poems read by Joyce, Jim and Fred who then posted them into a box provided attached to the gate. Cycling on down the hill we came to a stop at the original Quarr Abbey where the current owner who was sitting in the garden drinking tea and reading the paper informed us that it dated back to 1132 and part rebuilt in 1586. Two minutes later we were stopping again to admire a small pony with an obviously itchy bottom being rubbed against a gate while Nick shared his apple with another pony.
On our bikes again we headed off towards Fishbourne ferry terminal where we had to leave the footpath and join a busy road. After negotiating traffic lights, busses and other assorted vehicles once again we joined a quiet bridleway past the woodlands burial ground and then stopped to admire and discuss the Fernhill Ice House. This was a deep tunnel in the ground locked by a gate that stored the ice for up to a 100 days or even longer in times past.
From the Ice House we carried on to Newport for a late lunch at the Bargeman's Rest pub. Food was gratefully eaten as most of us had worked up a hearty appetite from tackling many, many more than expected undulations since leaving Ryde.
Leaving Newport we headed out to Parkhurst Forest passing the prison on the way. A decision was made to take a diversion through the forest but this was short lived as Angela's back brakes locked onto her wheel halting any further progress. A rider caught up with the rest of the group who returned to assist in freeing the brake locks. The brake cable could not be slotted back in but Angela bravely offered to ride on despite this. Due to this problem we headed back onto the roads again to Wellow and Thorley. By now legs and bottoms were getting extremely tired and sore and the cries to Jim how much further became more frequent. At last we came to the final stretch with a promise of no more hills as we turned onto a bridle path leading past Yarmouth and through a wonderful wet lands area that provided more excellent photo stops of the birds and swans. On reaching Freshwater Bay village we stopped off at the village pound where many thought we had reached the end of our first day. Alas this was not the case and heading into Totland Bay Jim had planned for us one more killer hill that needed to be negotiated before reaching the youth hostel.
It was now six thirty and after leaving our bikes in the shed provided, we booked into the hostel and eagerly looked forward to hot showers, making beds and a drink. We had opted to eat at the hostel and eagerly looked forward to our three course evening meal, even though a lot of us could not recall what we had ordered and thought completely different things were on the original menu. Unfortunately the ale was off and red wine was opted for instead. Some negotiation took place over the final desert choices but we were most disappointed at the absence of Minghella ice cream. It was either the large meal or tiredness but it took some time to calculate the final group bill.
Meal complete we retired to the quiet games/ lounge upstairs to chat about book clubs, swapping ideas of books to read and the joys of living in Shaftsbury Rd/ St? Others read papers and magazines after which most of us opted for an early night.
Day 2 Sunday 5 April 2009
We had plenty of time to complete the return route to Ryde (via a different, more southerly route) without rushing things because we left the youth hostel shortly after 9am. However, it was only 20 minutes of cycling before we made our first sightseeing stop of the day. It was certainly worth stopping at Freshwater Bay to look at the view and pose for a few group photographs. Jeff missed the Clarion Freshwater Bay group photo, though, because he was busy looking through book bargains in the local Lifeboat Association's secondhand book stall. Even though he picked up some great Edgar Allan Poe and Dylan Thomas rarities, we did wonder how Jeff was going to carry his plastic bag of books on the handlebars of his bike. Luckily, Angelika was able to help Jeff fix the bag of books to his bike rack with some elastic straps.
Once the book transportation problems had been sorted out, we set off along a B road (B3399/3401). Jim pointed out that he had chosen this route because it would allow swift progress and only a few hills. We did indeed seem to cover a greater distance in a shorter space of time than the previous day and arrived at the potential coffee stop of Colbourne Mill at 11am. Jim said that during his practice ride it hadn't been possible to go for a coffee in the mill without parting with a fairly expensive entrance fee. We were all grateful to Angelika and Tessa for negotiating a group entry which didn't require an entrance fee. Apart from the mill, the main attraction seemed to be the many peacocks wandering the grounds. One particular exhibitionist peacock was very keen to show off its tail feathers, creating a colourful and impressive sight.
Our route after the Colbourne Mill eventually took us back to some of the familiar sites in Newport we had seen the previous day. After glimpsing Carisbrooke Castle in the distance, we had a few problems finding the cycle path detailed on the OS map and had to cycle along the pavement instead. We did find the disused railway line which was to lead us to the lunch stop of the Woodman Arms. After a hurried lunch, the group then split into two factions. The train faction (Jim, Fred, Joyce, Angela, Amanda and Nick) cycled to the nearby Isle of Wight steam railway to catch the 2.30pm train to Smallbrook Junction. Those of us who took the train option knew that we would be missing out on further cycling opportunities that day, but the train journey was fascinating. We then arrived at Smallbrook Junction and caught one of the customised London Underground to Ryde pier. We met up with the cycling faction on the ferry and shared a rather foggy crossing back to Portsmouth harbour.
Thanks very much to Jim for planning and organising such a great weekend.
Meanwhile, back in Sussex: Leon's report
Sunday 5 April 2009
The day started with bright clear skies and the promise that it wouldn't rain. One small problem faced me that morning; the usual 'train replacement bus service' that affects the line into Brighton from London during the winter / spring.
Out came my folding bike again, this bike is accepted on these busses, so off I set an hour early just in case the 09.38 was going to be full, after all it is intended to take all the passengers from an eight coach train. I arrived on Brighton station in good time to catch the 09.20 to Berwick.
I arrived with a whole hour to kill in Berwick, now this can be quite a problem as there is only a short section of cycle track south of the station and I didn't feel like doing a quick circuit of the local villages before the main ride. Ian arrived at about 10.40 and the Brighton train at 10.45 or so. Onto the platform stepped Annette and Kevin, very welcome sights indeed, as Ian said if it had been just the two of us we would both have got very fed up pretty quickly.
After all the welcomes Ian procured a willing young woman to take our mug shots, she was so enthusiastic that she took at least three photos.
Off we set in a bright and happy mood to enjoy all that lay ahead. The lanes were easy going. We saw only Very light traffic the whole day. Birds twittering love songs to each other and roadside wild flowers of blue, yellow and white greeted us all along the way.
We rode quickly and close packed without incidents such as punctures or chains falling off. Even I didn't fall off. We arrived at the Six Bells at Chiddingly at 11.45 - too early to get a well-earned pint. We sat in the garden and chatted in the sunshine until noon, and then made a dash to join a queue at the bar. The ale was good and the food well served and of good value. During our lunch break, bikers (motorcyclists) began to arrive in large numbers and occupy most of the carpark at the front of the Pub. They look as you would expect, leather jackets and long hair, but well behaved.
On our way out of the car park I noticed a sign on the pub end wall. It read 'Pratts served here'. Now if I had seen that when we arrived it would have made me feel that I was expected.
Only one mile out of Chiddingly we stopped at a large house displaying a plaque 'Lee Miller lived here'. Ian knew all about the history of this house and occupants. I could not recall all that he told us as it was quite complex but it involved a glamorous woman who became a model, a famous photographer, wartime photo journalism and Hitler.
The ride back to Berwick was leisurely but none the less much faster than our usual pace. With a half-hour to wait for the 14.48 train, we sipped tea at the Berwick Inn opposite the station to pass the time.
Thank you Ian for another delightful outing and thanks also to Annette and Kevin for the pleasure of their company.
Once again 'Fellowship in cycling'.
Sunday 22 March 2009
The turnout for this ride would have equalled the record 17 set at the previous ride, if only Fred hadn't overslept. However, the group did not attain its full strength until some way into the ride, owing to an unfortunate railway incident.
Alice, Colin, Jim, Joyce, Leon, Richard, Roger, Suzanne and Tessa arrived at Chichester Station to find Angela, Anne, Ian, Mick, Sue and Terry waiting for them. But where was Angelika? A phone call established that she had been travelling down in the train from London when the guard advised her that she was in the wrong half of a dividing train. An attempt to rectify this at Three Bridges found her stranded on the platform with her bike, and the door closing before she could re-join it in the correct place. Of course, Fellowship is Life, so we didn't mind waiting the 30 minutes or so until her new ETA. Well, in fact, most of us set off at a slow dawdle up the Centurion Way, in anticipation of being caught up with en route, and this occurred by the Roman amphitheatre, where the advance party had stopped to rest amid the massed ranks of the iron 'centurions'; Angelika and her minders arriving triumphantly on the scene and the long-overdue group photographs at last able to be taken.
It was a busy day for bikes, the sun having brought out many less hardy cyclists than the Clarion Club, but the traffic gradually thinned out towards the north end of the Way. Here, the path turns a right angle and heads for the A286, while the old railway line recedes, frustratingly, into the distance on the wrong side of a barbed wire fence. Quite why this is I have never been able to fathom; a mile further on (thankfully, a mile of cycle path rather than actual A road) we passed over the railway route, which, at that point, looks fairly well-used, though not by the public; and for a further mile, it follows the eastward curve of the A286 before swinging to the north. Had Sustrans managed to reclaim this last two miles, our journey, which now involved a mile and a half of busy A-road with no cycle path, would have been much more pleasant. Mind you, as someone pointed out later, it would have been even better if the railway had remained open; as we passed the field-sized car park of the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum (opened in 1970, 35 years after this part of the line was closed) one couldn't help wishing that the kind of visionary genius that created the Museum had been around in 1935.
Thankfully we were able to transfer to a quiet lane for the last mile or so from Singleton to Charlton, a charming old village, and so to our lunchtime rendezvous, the Fox Goes Free, where the walls were adorned with pictures, including one of a Dr Who episode being filmed in the pub in 1975.
After lunch, we knew that a long climb awaited us, and Ian advised anyone who wanted a head start to get going. Then, when the rest of us set off, it turned out that we, at least, were going the wrong way – but what about the advance party? Had they gone the same way? A lady out walking her dog said she had seen about 10 cyclists, so where were the other 6? Well, there could have been 16, she admitted; and sure enough, when we rounded the next bend, there they were.
The little lane that we were on, Chalk Road, was just a happy accident – it was a lovely, quiet, leafy lane, and it wasn't even supposed to be on our route! There's serendipity for you! During our extended 'resting period' here, we debated an idea of Joyce's about reviving the practice of having picnic lunches instead of going to pubs, and hopefully we will be able to try out this option in the summer.
Goodwood racecourse, and then a whacking great downhill section, followed, during which I clocked up 31.2 mph, equalling my record on the East Grinstead ride last September (is this getting a bit too much like the national Clarion?). We went past the aerodrome and wended our way back into Chichester; a plan to have tea at the canal basin was thwarted by the minor detail that the café was closed.
Having said goodbye to the motorists, and to a small group who decided to take a later train and have tea somewhere else, the 'rump' caught the 16.53 train and discussed picnics again, and also the Naked Bike Ride (of course). Colin, whose first Clarion ride this was, was now suffering somewhat from 16 miles in the saddle, and opted to get a taxi home and retrieve his bike from the station later. This had been a baptism by fire for him, as he has not done much on-road riding, and he passed with flying colours, including negotiating his first roundabout.
Thanks to our redoubtable backstop, Suzanne, for looking after Colin, and our redoubtable leader, Ian, for organising the ride.
[Again, even more and bigger photos on Flickr. ]